Humanity shines through

2010-01-19 00:00

REMARKABLE isn’t it, how it takes a cataclysmic disaster like the Haiti earthquake to show that the world still cares about people?

Governments that only weeks ago didn’t give too much of a damn about anything except stock markets, money, foreign trade and political one-upmanship, have rallied to the Haitian cause.

Dozens of nations, from the United States with $100 million in aid, to Britain, France, China and even South Africa, have sent planeloads of people, earth-moving equipment, food and water to Haiti.

But what has impressed me is a South African aid organisation that has once again led the field in rushing to the aid of those in need.

It is called the Gift of the Givers and it is amazing how quickly its members are able to react. And frankly, I don’t think they are given enough credit for what they do. Probably because they don’t expect credit, they don’t expect a pat on the back nor do they expect reward.

But, I am going to give it anyway because they are a bunch of people who give me hope in humanity. They make me forget about the death and destruction that is caused by petty political bickering the world over. They make me forget that as far as most governments are concerned, human life comes way down on their list of priorities.

They make me feel very proud to be South African and most of all they teach me time and time again that giving is what makes people happy, not taking.

The Gift of the Givers Foundation is the largest disaster relief organisation of African origin on our continent. Its assistance is purely humanitarian and unconditional. It helps irrespective of race, religion, colour, class, political affiliation or geographical boundary. It is entirely neutral in its approach to humankind in need. Its members are nonjudgmental and have an open- minded approach to all situations.

So far, Gift of the Givers has delivered more than R360 million in aid to 25 countries around the world, including South Africa. It designed and developed the world’s first and largest containerised mobile hospital, which was deployed in Bosnia. It was comparable with the best hospitals in Europe and remains unmatched to this day.

Besides disaster-relief activities, it runs 24 projects, administered by its offices in South Africa and Malawi. These projects cover things such as health, education, agricultural sustainability, life skills, job creation and entrepreneurship, feeding schemes, sport and culture, and Winter Warmth.

While, like most people, I feel so dreadfully sad for the people of Haiti, I must say it gives me a real lift not to have to devote a column to complaining about something, but rather to give credit where credit is due.

There are plenty of organisations that do wonderful things in this country, but I believe that Gift of the Givers deserves to be singled out and given a huge and resounding pat on the back.

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