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Rediff.com  » News » Indian-origin man wins S Africa's top award for humanitarian aid

Indian-origin man wins S Africa's top award for humanitarian aid

April 28, 2010 10:11 IST

An Indian-origin man who founded a humanitarian aid organisation that has provided relief to people worldwide has received one of South Africa's highest honours.

Imtiaz Sooliman, who started the Gift of the Givers Foundation more than a decade ago, received the Order of the Baobab in Silver from President Jacob Zuma at a function in the Presidential Guest House in Pretoria on Tuesday night.

The awards are given out to deserving recipients each year to mark the public holiday of Freedom Day, April 27, when South Africa's first democratically elected President Nelson Mandela was sworn into office in 1994.

The Order of the Baobab recognises South African citizens who have contributed to community service, business and economy, science, medicine and technological innovation.

Sooliman's citation indicated that he was being honoured "for his excellent contribution through the Gift of the Givers Foundation to humanitarian aid in South Africa and humanitarian relief missions in various countries".

This year's ceremony was held under the theme 'Working together we can do more to achieve excellence'.

"This theme has always been a basic premise in all the humanitarian work that we have done for more than a decade now in countries across the globe, with assistance from the South African government and other agencies and volunteers," Sooliman said.

The organisation's previous work includes relief work after the earthquake in Gujarat, a few years ago and their latest efforts were in earthquake-stricken Haiti, where its team found the first survivor.

Sooliman had received an Honorary Doctorate from his alma mater, the University of Natal on April 23.  "It's great to be recognised in this way by the institution where I started off," he said.

The Order of the Baobab in Silver was also awarded posthumously to another South African Indian, Vincent Naidoo of Cape Town "For his outstanding courage in fighting crime in Mitchells Plain and for sacrificing his life for the safety of his community."

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