Careline is a ‘gift’ to the people

2015-05-20 06:00
PHOTO: supplied

Zohra Sooliman and her staff.

PHOTO: supplied Zohra Sooliman and her staff.

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WITH 18 years’ operation under its belt, the Gift of the Givers Careline has flown under the radar, helping thousands of people.

Run by Zohra Sooliman and her staff of about 15 volunteer counsellors, the careline began from her home and has progressed to now offering face-to-face and online counselling.

Speaking to Maritzburg Fever, Sooliman said when the Gift of the Givers began 23 years ago, people would frequently visit her home and she would talk to the ladies and often they would open up about problems they were facing.

She found there was a growing need to provide a “safe space” for these people to talk about their problems and get the help they needed.

“I found that people needed to know where to go for help and in the beginning there were a lot of cultural­ boundaries that people faced and a stigma attached to speaking about certain problems they might be facing in the marriage or home life,” said Sooliman.

She said after a few years of unofficially counselling people, she felt she had an obligation to start helping the community.

“I made a pact with God to help the lost and this became my moral obligation.”

In the mid-nineties, Sooliman began recruiting people from the community to become volunteer counsellors and on 5 May, 1997, the lines for the careline were officially opened.

Although it took a while for it to take off for various reasons, after the toll-free line was opened it became­ a service that was well used.

“As we grew we learnt about other cultures and religions and were able to help anyone. The careline is for anyone with any problem­. We are all-embracing,” said Sooliman.

She explained that services offered are all encompassing and counsellors are provided with training in various social ills and issues­ prevalent in society.

The careline provides trauma counselling, employment-assessment providers, face-to-face counselling­ and a fully operational toll-free counselling line, to name a few.

There are also support groups so people can work with each other and help deal with their problems together.

“The support groups help people­ feel less lonely and they draw strength from each other and often come up with ideas on how they can deal with whatever situation they are facing.”

Sooliman said the hallmark of the Gift of the Givers Careline is confidentiality.

“When you are helping people they need to have confidence that their stories will remain private - this is most important to us.”

290 Prince Alfred Street

0800 786 786

Monday – Friday 9am to 4pm

(closed on weekends and public holidays)

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