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Profile of Imtiaz Sooliman
Dr Imtiaz Sooliman was born in Potchefstroom, in the North West. He started his schooling in Potchefstroom, but moved to Sastri College in Durban in 1978. He qualified as a medical doctor at the then University of Natal Medical School in 1984.
Sooliman gave up his career as a medical doctor to pursue the field of humanitarian aid, which for him transcends the boundaries of race, religion, culture, class and geography. Alongside his studies and his medical work and throughout his life, Sooliman has been involved in several associations, religious organisations and school-governing bodies progressively as a student, medical doctor and an active member of civil society.
In 1992, he founded the Gift of the Givers Foundation, and has since then delivered more than R160 million in a 13-year period to 22 countries, including South Africa. The organisation is impartial and apolitical, and aims to serve with compassion, kindness and mercy. One of the notable gifts that he organised was the donation of a well-equipped field hospital first used during the Bosnian War.
In 2003, his organisation became the first in South African history to receive R60 million from the South African Government for humanitarian aid in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.
The Gift of the Givers Foundation is the largest disaster response non-governmental organisation of African origin on the African continent. In a 15-year period, the organisation has developed into one of the most respected international humanitarian agencies, being the first such agency to be accredited by Proudly South African.
The Gift of the Givers continues to concern itself with alleviating physical and emotional suffering. The foundation provides disaster relief, primary healthcare clinics, feeding schemes, water purification and water wells; distributes new blankets, clothing and food parcels; provides bursaries, educational support, toys for the underprivileged, agricultural self-help schemes, job creation, counselling services and drug rehabilitation; and conducts HIV and AIDS, skills development and life-altering workshops. All of these would not be possible without the dedication, energy and leadership of Dr Imtiaz Sooliman. His latest relief activity was to mobilise help for Haiti in the wake of the earthquake disaster.