Abdul Sattar Edhi: An exceptional humanitarian and philanthropist
Who was Abdul Sattar Edhi?
Words fall short to describe the towering personality of an exceptional humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi. He was a voice, hope, and home for the voiceless, hopeless, and homeless of the helpless segment of the society.
His actions spoke louder than words that echo in our ears and his care for humanity touched our hearts. Therefore, his meaningful life will inspire our generations. And he will be remembered as one of the most respected personalities of Pakistan.
Abdul Sattar Edhi was born in 1928, in Bantva, a small village near Joona Garh, Gujarat State in India. The family of Edhi came to Pakistan after the partition of the subcontinent in 1947.
Abdul Sattar Edhi founded the Edhi Foundation in 1951 in Karachi, Pakistan. later on, the organization became the largest organized social welfare system in the country. It operates through private donations based on local volunteers.
The Edhi Foundation
The Edhi Foundation offers social services for the poor, which include orphanages, maternity wards, nursing homes, elderly homes women’s shelters, and rehabilitation centers.
It has helped thousands of people in need, that includes thousands of children for whom Edhi remained a legal guardian. It has protected abandoned children, abused women, drug addicts and persons with disabilities.
Abdul Sattar Edhi established a one-man-welfare empire that has been bridging the gap left by the government social services.
The Edhi foundation accommodates 5,700 people in 17 shelters. It has rescued 20,000 abandoned children and trained 40,000 nurses. Its orphanages shelter 50,000 orphans.
The Edhi foundation has the largest voluntary ambulance network in the world which comprises 1500 ambulances. These ambulances have been instrumental in saving the people in terror attacks inside Pakistan.
Philosophy of Abdul Sattar Edhi: Humanity First
Abdul Sattar Edhi avoided discrimination in his welfare activities. He helped people irrespective of their religion, ethnicity, race, color, and language.
Edhi kept himself away from politics and sectarianism. He tried to unite the divided community through his selfless and unbiased social services. Abdul Sattar Edhi remained a role-model due to his humility and love for humanity.
It surprising that even such an angelic personality had to receive life threats. He had to leave the country temporarily to save his life. His opponents could not understand his heart full of deeper love humanity which was free of all prejudices.
His mother was in a severe diabetic condition and she was paralyzed. Abdul Sattar Edhi cared for her when he was just 11 years old. According to him caring for his mother made him think of millions of people who suffered in the country.
“I bathed her, changed her, and fed her,” Abdul Sattar Edhi revealed in his autobiography. Tehmina Durrani wrote the autobiography of Abdul Sattar Edhi “A Mirror to the Blind “which was published in 1996.
Abdul Sattar Edhi’s death and Pakistan State Funeral
Abdul Sattar Edhi died of kidney failure in Karachi on July 9, 2016. While he was alive he had requested to be buried in the clothes he would die in. He had also offered his organs for donation after his death.
But due to his matchless services, the government announced a state funeral and a national day of mourning at his death. After General Zia-ul-Haq’s funeral in 1988, Abdul Sattar Edhi was the only Pakistani who was honored with a state funeral.
His dead body was wrapped in the flag of a nation that he served throughout his life.
(Written by Ijaz Ali, a freelance journalist. He holds a Master Degree in European Studies from Germany and can be reached at [email protected])