“Gift of the Givers” Slide Show on visit to Gaza by Zohra Sooliman

4th March,2009

Julie had invited me to accompany her to this slide show and talk which was held in Pietermaritzburg.

The policy of “Gift of the Givers Foundation is expressed as “Gift of the Givers Foundation is the largest disaster response NGO of African origin in the African continent. Coming into being in 1992, we have evolved into an agency that stands out as one of the best in the world. Entrepreneurship, job creation, bursaries, mosquito nets, blankets, clinics, counselling and life skills services are all facets of our expanding diverse activities. Building bridges between people of different cultures and religions, instilling hope and dignity and creating opportunity are all integral aspects of our philosophy. Our assistance is purely humanitarian and unconditional.

We assist irrespective of race, religion, colour, class, political affiliation or geographical boundary. We work with governments to get our assistance delivered, but do not align ourselves politically to any party.

Our credo is “The best among people are those who benefit mankind”.

The audience consisted of women. The ladies of Indian descent were wearing a variety of outfits. Julie was not wearing anything that identified her as a Muslim, others wore headscarves with traditional attire from the sub-continent, out lecturer wore a headscarf with a western style patterned blouse and white trousers. There was only one woman completely covered from head to foot in a black chador. Her outfit was decorated with black lace something I have never seen before and she was carrying a smart black handbag. She exposed her face on arrival and covered up again on departure. There were two “white” south Africans and a “black” South African woman in addition to myself. The latter was clearly a person of education and authority.

Zohra Sooliman, who is a psychologist, her husband and founder of “Gift of Giver” Dr. Imtiaz Sooliman, medical specialists and journalists had formed a party of about forty people who had entered Gaza about three weeks after the ceasefire at the beginning of this year.

Zohra and the whole team had worked in some cases almost literally twenty four hours a day to treat people and alleviate suffering. Zohra had been helping adults and children with post traumatic stress using a technique called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).

The slides were a very powerful accompaniment to her words. Zohra made clear that the Israeli’s are clearly not following the accepted rules of war. They are using white phosphorous , a banned substance, for which there is no cure for those affected by it. The slides were a very powerful accompaniment to her words.

Zohra made a clear distinction between the policies and attitudes of the Israeli government and the Israeli people themselves. She mentioned that there are growing numbers of Israeli’s who are looking for a peaceful resolution to the present situation.

After the talk we were offered refreshments. Julie (who really is a wonderful Publicity Manager) started talking to Zohra about “Tales My Ghanaian Grandmother Told Me”. She had, with admirable foresight, brought along the publicity pack which Donnette had made up. Zohra was very interested and immediately started asking about what newspaper and radio coverage I had enjoyed. She expressed the thought that we were destined to met and said she would see what she could do to help with publicity. She has a husband, five children, works and regularly gives talks so she asked me if she could ring me in the evening in a day or two. Zohra really is a truly exceptional woman!



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