People born in slums or
royalty, nurture in petrified or glorified atmosphere, tirelessly work for the
fairy tale filled with nonexistent glimpse of alluring tomorrow, wish to marry a
young goddess, struggle for 6 digit salary, 5 bedrooms bungalow, 4 cars, 3
penthouse flats, 2 kids, 1 wife, at ugly age-wish to be remembered by millions
and eventually die away from the loved ones in a deserted lush place. That’s the
life cycle of 90% people living in Pakistan, and many may get the desired quanta
during lifespan, but no one writes them in the book of immortal human beings.
Why would anyone remember anyone who spends life in an elegant glass away from
helpless and needy? Other 10% includes the infants die due to
malnutrition-handicap, who rigidly spend their life on one bed and the ones who
sacrifice their lives for the betterment of humanity. Those sacrificers will be
remembered until judgment day.
Riaz Uddin remembers that petrified dark day in 1965, when a careening truck
through the crowded bazar of Karachi deadly struck his 10 years old daughter-“Zubida”.
He recalls helplessly standing over her blood stained body waiting for the
miracle to happen, no one form the public or officials came. While, the little
sinless flower agonizingly died after struggling with the pain of mortality.
Even after her terrified death, no one came to help the helpless father. As the
news reached out, a small man in an urgency reached with a white truck and
picked the dead body from ground. Riaz narrated with tears that there wasn’t any
one from the mob of millions who could help him except that small man. That man
made arrangements for the body to be washed and wrapped in white Muslim burial
cloth. That man was “Abdul Sattar EDHI”, having one ambulance (truck) at that
time and aiming to help every helpless. Riaz said, “When I looked the dedication
and humility of the beard man, I devoted myself to escort him in his gravest
Before migrating to Pakistan, his family used to live in Bantva (India) and Edhi
was born there. Edhi never liked the school and formal studies. He once said,
“My mother cultivated the seed of social work in me when she used to give me two
pennies, one for myself and the other for someone in need”. After leaving the
school at the age of 13, he started selling the pencils, pens, matchboxes etc.
in the Bantva bazaar and in the evenings, he used to read the newspapers of that
time like Bombay samachar and Sandes magazine to educate himself. The vague idea
of revolution got apparent after reading the Muslim Gujarat gazette. He learned
the concept of capitalist and oppressed from the epic history of Hazrat Imam
Hussain (RA). At that time, his immature ceaseless thoughts became revolutionary
and decided to bring a revolution. He used to read the reflecting biographies of
immortal tycoons. Abuzar Ghafafari had fascinated him until his death.
Edhi initiated his voluntary work of welfare in 1951 by opening a small clinic
for underprivileged masses. At that time, he had no resources to enhance the
setup. He worked day in day out with zeal and zest to make a center of
humanitarian excellence for the needy and rejected ones. By the time, he was
able to get support from his elder brother. Initially, his involvement made Edhi
very relaxed. But, when the volunteer work gained a lot of appreciations from
renowned people, his brother accompanied by a slovenly clique started a
conspiracy to get rid of the Edhi. Many times, his elder brother hampered him
and became heavy-handed and physical. To cop up the situation, Edhi took the
issue to the court and after some hearings, Edhi got cleared from the
convictions. Then, Edhi fired his brother from trustees and decided not to
involve any external personal in the trustees’ panel.
After that incident, Edhi laid the foundation of “Edhi Foundation” by announcing
his first family the only trustees of the organization. After a very creepy
start, but with the Edhi’s sincerity of the purpose, Edhi Foundation has now
acquired 7000 workers and more than 250 centers across the country. Mission
started with a small dispensary to help the maximum needy has shaped to be the
largest social welfare system in any Asian country. Not only dispensaries, Edhi
foundation has established the maternity homes, mental asylums, homes for
physical handicapped, orphanages, adoption centers, mortuaries, shelters for
runaway children, care centers for battered and divorced women and soup
kitchens. Edhi ambulance service is also a very impressive achievement in the
cap of foundation. The foundation owns hundreds of ambulances working across the
nation. It is on record that more than four thousand emergency calls are
received in a day and the reach time is approximately ten minutes.
“My mission and vision is to serve the humanity regardless of the color, caste,
creed, religion, nationality and political affiliation. My only aim is to
provide the free of cost services like medicines, food and education to the
oppressed people. Why oppressed always suffer from the dilemma of poverty? Poor
man should have equal rights like any other rich and to me; serving poor is just
like praying. All the human beings are equal and should be treated with
equality, love and respect”.
Edhi had accomplished the goal with the sincerity of purpose, dedication of
perseverance and a notion of truthfulness. Edhi led the team by his examples. He
tried to provide the synergistic environment to the team and resolved their
issues with empathic communication. He lived the whole life in providing the
comfort and console to the anguished souls.
He was vainly against the prevalent belief system of serving a particular group
of helpless people. That’s why he preached the message of “Humanity over
religion, sect, nationality and color” until his death. Most of the time, he had
to face severe reluctance from the absurd ones due to his nationalist
“I was made criminal, by the Law, not because of what I had done, but because of
what I stood for”. (Nelson Madiba Mandela)
However, all those hardships had waved off due to his untiring substance and
extremely committed team. Edhi had given his team very subsistence pays and
never allowed himself to take public exchequer. He detained Edhi foundation from
any governmental support or other support except public.
Edhi had never ever looked for appreciation or award throughout his life for his
commendable services for the mankind. Once an institute in Karachi wished to
reward him with the appreciation award for his services. He replied, “I don’t
want my two hours to be wasted for some meaningless award”. Although he was so
against of the awards but in-spite of his reluctance, he had been rewarded with
many prestigious awards. His accomplishments include Ramon Magsaysay award for
public service (1986), Lenin peace award, Peace prize award from USSR, Hamdard
award, Guinness book of world, International Balzan prize for humanity, Peace
award (Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi), Gandhi peace award, UNESCO peace award and
many other. He had also awarded with honorary doctorate degree from institute of
business administration (IBA).
I may not be alive to see the society full of misfit rebels-round pigs in square
holes, changing the lives by following the humanitarian approach. I may not be
able to see a tolerant society where all sects live under the same roof and
share the food. But, I am sure the teachings of Dr. Abdul Sattar Edhi will
enlighten us in making this divided nation, a united nation.
I am a mirror to the blind,
I am a hope to the downtrodden,
I am a father to the orphans,
I am a brother to the battered and divorced woman,
I am a God to the mortuaries,
I am a bastard to the prevalent system believers,
I am an angle to the issueless parents,
I am a protector to the widows,
Those who don't know me:
I am Abdul Sattar EDHI and
Humanity is my religion.