Team from SA is thankful to be back

TWO more South African search-and-rescue teams arrived back in the country at the weekend after an emotional rescue mission in quake hit Haiti.

TWO more South African search-and-rescue teams arrived back in the country at the weekend after an emotional rescue mission in quake hit Haiti.

Surgeon Mahomed Moolla, who was part of the 12-member team that left the country on January 20, expressed gratitude at being back in the country in one piece.

"I feel relieved to be home. There is so much to be grateful for. We [South Africans] don't appreciate what we have until we have lost it," he said yesterday.

The rampant poverty experienced by Haitians made medical rescue efforts more difficult.

Moolla said: "A lot of Haitians were very scared and reluctant to come forward for medical assistance when it became available.

"The people are extremely poor and they thought they would have to pay for medical attention. So they didn't show up for help."

Meanwhile, plans to send extra medical and food supplies have been delayed.

Gift of the Givers' founder and chairperson Imtiaz Sooliman told Sowetan that he was waiting for feedback from the government about its willingness to help acquire a cargo plane to carry goods to Haiti.

Sooliman said he would most likely hear from the authorities within the next "few days".

Meanwhile, the Givers will have to wait a little longer to ship medical and food supplies to Haiti because the US army has yet to clear the port to receive goods.

"The minute the Americans send a message that the port is clear we will send the ship in," Sooliman said.

He also thanked South Africans for their generosity.

The Gift of the Givers has already raised R8 million from cash donations.

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