Mankind’s best gift

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

AQUARTER of a cen­tury ago, a young South African doc­tor re­ceived an in­struc­tion from his spir­i­tual teacher in Is­tan­bul. He was to re­turn home and de­vote his life to the ser­vice of oth­ers, be­cause the best among peo­ple are those who ben­e­fit mankind.

Im­tiaz Sooli­man re­turned home to Pi­eter­mar­tizburg and did just that, see­ing nei­ther race, creed or colour as he put to­gether a dis­as­ter re­lief and hu­man­i­tar­ian or­gan­i­sa­tion, the likes of which had never been seen on the con­ti­nent.

Since Au­gust 6, 1992, the Gift of the Givers has dis­trib­uted more than R2.1 bil­lion in aid to re­cip­i­ents in 43 coun­tries, in­clud­ing our own. Much of the work goes un­doc­u­mented, like the poverty re­lief, drilling for wa­ter and food pro­grammes in prov­inces such as Lim­popo, Mpumalanga and North West.

Some of the most en­dur­ing work takes place in Gaut­eng, in some of the most des­per­ate town­ships, serv­ing South Africans and the African im­mi­grant di­as­pora alike, keep­ing them from the edge of mal­nu­tri­tion.

It doesn’t mat­ter where the cri­sis is, you can be as­sured that the Gift of the Givers will be there; Bos­nia, Haiti, Iran, Syria, Pak­istan, the Philip­pines, etc. Per­haps the great proof of Sooli­man’s suc­cess can be seen in the cal­i­bre of peo­ple who an­swer the call ev­ery time he rings, giv­ing their time for free; highly trained sur­geons, spe­cial­ists, nurses, re­lief work­ers, or­di­nary men and women com­pelled to breathe life into the in­junc­tion his spir­i­tual leader gave him that night in Is­tan­bul: “Help all peo­ple of all races or all re­li­gions, of all classes, of all colours, of all ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tions. Treat peo­ple with love, kind­ness, com­pas­sion and mercy. Feed the hun­gry, clothe the naked, pro­vide wa­ter for the thirsty. Wipe the tear of a griev­ing child, ca­ress the head of an or­phan, say words of good coun­sel to a widow; that costs noth­ing.

“Best among peo­ple are those that ben­e­fit mankind.” Oh, but we could all do the same. We salute Im­tiaz Sooli­man, a South African in the finest tra­di­tion of our coun­try. You make us proud, Doc. All the best for the next 25 years of ser­vice to mankind.

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