“My religion is humanitarianism, which is the basis of every religion in the world”
Abdul Sattar Edhi was a prominent Pakistani philanthropist, social activist, ascetic and humanitarian. He was the founder and head of Edhi foundation and ran the organization for the better part of six decades. He was known as “angel of mercy” and considered as Pakistan’s most “respected” and “legendary figure”. In 2013, Huffington post state that he might be, “the world’s greatest living humanitarian”. He is known for his social work, simple lifestyle and humanitarian. He was awarded Lenin Peace Prize (1988), Nishan-e-Imtiaz (1989), Ahmadiyya Muslim Peace Prize (2010).
He was born in 1928 in Bantva in Gujrat, British India. When he was eleven (11) his mother paralyzed from a stroke and she died when he was nineteen(19). His personal experiences and care for his mother during her illness, caused him to develop a system of services for old, mentally ill and challenged people. The partition of India led Edhi and his family to migrate to Pakistan in 1947. He then shifted to Karachi to work in a market at a wholesale shop. His mother would give him one paisa for his meals and another to give to a beggar. He later started as a peddler, and later became a commission agent selling cloth in the wholesale market in Karachi. After a few years of hard work, he established a dispensary with the help from his community.
He told in NPR in 2009 that, “I saw people lying on the pavement…”. In these days, flu spread in Karachi, and there was no one to treat them. I set up benches and got medical students to volunteer. I was penniless and begged for donations on the street, and people gave. I bought this 8-by-8 room to start my work.
Edhi resolved to dedicate his life to aiding the poor, and over the next 60 years, he singles-handily the changed the welfare in Pakistan. Edhi founded the Edhi foundation. He established the Edhi trust with an initial sum of 5,000 rupees which was later named as Bilqis Edhi Trust. Regarded as guardian for poor, Edhi began the receiving numerous donations, which allowed him to expand his services. To this day, Edhi foundation has grown in both size and service and is currently largest welfare organization in Pakistan. Since its inception, he rescued over 20,000 abandoned, infants, rehabilitated over 50,000 orphans, and trained over 40,000 nurses. He runs more than 330 welfares in both rural and urban Pakistan which operate as food kitchens, rehabilitation homes, shelters for abandoned woman and children and clinics for mentally handicapped.
The Edhi foundation, founded by Edhi, runs the world’s largest ambulance service (operating 1,500 of them) and offers 24-hour emergency service. It has run relief operation service in Africa, middle east, the Caucasus region, eastern Europe and U.S where it provided aid following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
In early 1980’s he was arrested by Israeli troops while entering Lebanon. In 2006, he was detained in Toronto, Canada for 16-hours. In January 2008, U.S immigration officials interrogated Edhi at the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York for over 8-hours and seized his passport and other documents. When asked about the frequent detention Edhi said, “the only explanation I can think of is my beard and my dress”.
Personal life and death:
Edhi was married in 1965 to Bilqis, a nurse who worked at the Edhi dispensary. The couple had four children, two daughters, and two sons.
On 25th June 2013, Edhi’s kidneys failed, and it was announced that he would be on dialysis for the rest of his life unless he found a kidney donor. He died on 8th July 2016, at the age of 88 due to kidney failure after having being placed on the ventilator. He will be buried in Edhi village. His last wish included the request that his organs were to be donated, but due to his ill health, only his corneas were to be donated. He will be given a full state funeral. The country’s head of the Army, Raheel Shareef, called him a “true humanitarian”.
Edhi was influenced by “Muhammad Ali Jinnah” and “Mother Teresa”. He was referred as Pakistan’s version of “Mother Teresa”, and BBC wrote that he was considered as “Pakistan’s most respected figure and was seen by some as almost a saint”.
‘Empty words and long praises don’t impress GOD. Show Him your faith by your deed
(BY SAMIA FATIMA KHALIDI)