In a world of natural disasters and political chaos, Imtiaz Sooliman keeps a cool head. The remarkable founder of Gift of the Givers confronts a sea of troubles and never loses heart.
Next time you’re feeling really, really busy, spare a thought for Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, founder and director of Africa’s largest disaster relief agency, Gift of the Givers. “It’s insane at the moment,” he says when we meet in April. “We have chaos happening in Syria, chaos happening in Yemen and chaos happening in Somalia.”
We’re at the organisation’s Cape Town branch – a large warehouse and office complex in Athlone. Sooliman is in town for the 19th World Congress on Disaster and Emergency Medicine, where he is the keynote speaker, and he has screeched in from the convention centre just in time for our interview.
Sooliman, dressed in his trademark green Gift of the Givers tracksuit top, lays out five cellphones in front of him. A lean, animated man, he speaks with rapid-fire speed. At the same time he appears unfazed, perhaps even a little detachedly amused, at the chaos he describes.