Humanitarian organization, Gift of the Givers, has sent a yachtsman to Haiti to assess the current situation there, revealed Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, founder of the relief organization on Tuesday. Gerard Nagel who hails from Cape Town, left on Monday via Air France with a substantial quantity of medical supplies for the nation that suffered the death of aover 200,000 people in a devastating earthquake last month. He is due to arrive in Haiti on Wednesday evening.
“He [Nagel] is not a medical person,” said Sooliman. “It’s a totally different approach I’m using. Because he’s a yachtsman, he’s got lots of survival skills and he’ll do things that you can’t really do,” the innovative humanitarian explained. Nagel, who had lived in the Caribbean for five and a half years, will be traveling to Haiti with Glow Ministries International, an organisation dedicated to assisting the island’s most destitute since 1969.
“Before I send the supplies in, I want him to survey the area,” said Sooliman. “… See what are the requirements in the different parts of the country.” He added that Nagel could travel by boat to inaccessible parts of the country, as well as regions along the coast, gaining access to areas that nobody has been able to deliver aid to.
Upon Nagel’s assessment, Sooliman would decide if further medical teams are required, where they would operate and what their functions would be. “He’ll [Nagel] be my eyes and my ears there. If that need arises we still have more than 60 to 100 people ready to go in with different skills into different areas,” reported Sooliman, adding that Nagel will be in Haiti for at least three months.
Meanwhile, Gift of the Givers has been selected to serve on a ministerial committee established to oversee South Africa’s aid efforts in Haiti. “It’s recognition of the kind of work that we do and what we have been doing,” said Sooliman. The committee will be headed by the deputy minister of the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, Sue van der Merwe.
“The purpose of the ministerial committee is to integrate, to consolidate, to bring alignment across all the stakeholders that are involved in trying to approach Haiti,” said spokesperson for the department, Kgomotso Molobi. “But also it’s to provide a political oversight over all the activities that are … helping Haiti.” The committee does not only include government officials but private stakeholders as well, reported Molobi.
Gift of the Givers was one of the first disaster management teams to respond to the 7.3 magnitude earthquake which struck Haiti last month. The devastation left more than 100,000 people injured. The foundation sent four medical teams to the island within days of the quake. A further 500 tons of relief will be shipped to Haiti with over R8 million in cash donated by South Africans from all walks of life. VOC (Faatimah Hendricks)
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