Imtiaz Sooliman

Imtiaz Ismail Sooliman was born in Potchefstroom, in South Africa's North-West province, on 07 March 1962.

He attended Sastri College in Durban and matriculated in 1978, going on to study medicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Medical School, qualifying as a medical doctor in 1984.

Sooliman commenced private practice in Pietermaritzburg in 1986, but closed his flourishing practice in mid-1994, choosing instead to focus his attention on Gift of the Givers Foundation, which he had founded in early August 1992. His establishment of Gift of the Givers was the consequence of a message he had received, when he was 30 years old, from Sufi Sheikh Muhammed Saffer Effendi al Jerrahi, his spiritual leader in Istanbul, Turkey, who called on him to serve all people of all races, of all religions, of all colours, of all classes, of all political affiliations and of any geographical location ... a calling he honoured then and continues to honour today.

His endeavours in this regard has seen Gift of the Givers emerge as one of the most respected humanitarian organisations in the world; today it is the largest disaster response agency of African origin anywhere on the continent.

Since 1992, Dr Sooliman has steered the organisation to many notable achievements and world firsts, including:

  • Implementing 21 different categories of projects
  • Delivering well in excess of R3,5 billion rand of aid
  • Coming to the assistance of millions of people in no fewer than 44 countries across the globe, including South Africa
  • Designing and developing, in 1993, the world's first and only containerised mobile hospital of its kind, which was deployed in Bosnia and has been compared by CNN to any of the best hospitals in Europe
  • Designing the world's first containerised primary health care unit in 1994
  • Innovating the world's first groundnut-soya high-energy and protein supplement, known as Sibusiso Ready Food Supplement, in 2004. The supplement has proved ideal for people suffering from such conditions as HIV/Aids, TB, malnutrition, cancer and other debilitating disorders
  • Heading the first organisation in the history of South Africa to have received R60 million from government for the design and successful roll-out of 204 000 food parcels
  • Alleviating problems associated with a ravaging drought in South Africa by drilling 400 boreholes in just 18 months, from 2018
  • Rescuing 64-year-old Ena Zizi alive, after Ena had been trapped under rubble for eight days without food or water, little oxygen and a fractured hip, in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake of 2010. This was a world first for an African organisation involved in earthquake search and rescue outside Africa.

Reguit met Robinson: A Zoom conversation with Imtiaz Sooliman, founder of Gift of the Givers

Freek Robinson, Imtiaz Sooliman Onderhoude 2021-08-18

Imtiaz Sooliman shares with Freek Robinson his late-night calls to get people out of hostage situations and evacuate them from countries under siege, and how, right now, he is involving foreign governments yet again to help South Africans under siege.

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