Pietermaritzburg – Gift of the Givers founder, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, has challenged parents to act more responsibly around their children.Sooliman delivered the keynote address at the Alan Paton Memorial Lecture, which took place at the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Pietermaritzburg campus on Tuesday, talking on the theme of human rights and humanitarianism.He argued that the behaviour of young people, whether in schools or at tertiary institutions, was sometimes due to the example set by parents. “As parents we have absconded from our parenting duties. We tell our children to do something and we do the opposite of that. That is not the example that we should be setting,” said Sooliman, giving the use of cellphones while driving as an illustration of bad parenting.Service to humanitySooliman, who has visited war torn countries since 1994 providing relief through his organisation, said students driving fancy cars when coming to classes was a sign that society had placed the pursuit of materialism ahead of service to their fellow man.He challenged institutions, including universities, to emphasise the importance of serving humanity.He also urged South Africans to look beyond their religious beliefs as this presented a chance for people to help each other. “Our problem is that we want to put labels and forget that we are all human and are basically the same, regardless of skin colour,” he said.Sooliman gave an account of the challenges experienced by Gift of the Givers' volunteers during the NGO's 24 years of existence including coming into contact with gun-wielding individuals as the team provided relief to affected communities in areas such as Bosnia and Somalia.Prefer actionSooliman said there was much scope for NGOs to work together as this would have a greater impact, adding that this would require some of the NGOs to change their modes of operation, which focused on meetings as opposed to action.“I do not like meetings, I prefer action,” said Sooliman. He said one of the reasons behind the success of Gift of the Givers was the support that the organisation enjoyed across religious and colour lines. “We are only able to do the work that we have because of the people of South Africa who embody the spirit of Ubuntu,” he said.According to Sooliman, Gift of the Givers had provided aid in 48 countries worldwide and raised more than R1.4bn.