Natural disasters have a way of bringing out the best in humanity, as countries around the world sent their rescue teams to help those impacted by the Turkey and Syria earthquake. Among them was the South African Police Services (SAPS) K9 team, who collaborated with the Gift of the Givers Foundation to join the mission and save lives.
The K9 Team’s Mission
The K9 team, led by Brigadier Vimla Moodley, was responsible for searching for missing persons and recovering bodies. These search and rescue dogs have a unique ability to locate victims of natural disasters due to their training to detect human scent and remains. Each handler and dog are assessed and certified annually to ensure they are prepared for this crucial work.
The K9 Team’s Achievements
Despite the enormity of the disaster, the K9 team’s spirit and determination remained steadfast. Their efforts led to the rescue of an 80-year-old woman found alive in a collapsed building. This act of heroism earned them a medal of supreme sacrifice presented by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The honor garnered praise from National Police Commissioner, General Fannie Masemola, who commended the team’s commitment and dedication.
Brigadier Vimla Moodley
Brigadier Moodley, the provincial Head for Police Emergency Services, has been a passionate animal lover for three decades. Her tenure has broken barriers as the first woman of color placed in a K9 unit in South Africa and the first Indian female Brigadier appointed in the Eastern Cape. Moodley acknowledges the strength and resilience required to witness the harrowing aftermath of disasters.
Honors and Reflections
The K9 team and the Gift of the Givers were honored at a dinner held at the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Pretoria. Reflecting on the experience, Moodley emphasized the importance of appreciating life’s simple pleasures as a disaster can change everything in an instant.
The selflessness of the South African K9 team, coupled with their unwavering dedication in the face of devastation, serves as a testament to the power of compassion and unity when tragedy strikes. Their legacy of hope and resilience will undoubtedly inspire others to follow in their footsteps, as they continue to make a difference in the world.