Abdul Sattar Edhi was dedicated to service to humanity
He would sleep on the concrete outside the clinic so that he was available to anyone who needed help anytime at night. He would collect bodies, taking them to the police station, if not claimed then he would wash and bury them himself. Abdul Sattar Edhi and his people would be the first people to reach where there was an act of terror, accident or natural calamity. He donated all his organs so that even after death he continues his mission of serving humanity.
Who is Abdul Sattar Edhi?
He is an old man with a frail structure, dressing plainly, looking more like a person in need himself. A man who has no formal education, but whose philosophy of life is a beacon of hope for the suffering of humanity. Abdul had a firm belief that the rights of humans over fellow humans are more important than any other right in this world. He is the most respected man in Pakistan.
Abdus Sattar Edhi was the owner and chief organizer of the Edhi Foundation. The world’s largest ambulance service according to Guinness Book of World Records. He passed away on July 8, 2016.
The Edhi Welfare Foundation
The Edhi Welfare Foundation is the largest welfare organization in Pakistan and one of the largest and most successful health and welfare networks in Asia. It operates worldwide providing services ranging from free nursing homes, orphanages, clinics, women’s shelters to rehab centres for drug addicts and mentally ill individuals. The foundation has run relief operations in Africa, Middle East, Eastern Europe and the US. It provided aid following the New Orleans hurricane of 2005.
Edhi himself was suffering from many diseases. He had an iron-like commitment and determination. He was born on January 1st, 1928 in Gujrat, British India. According to Edhi, he grew up taking care of his mother who suffered from paralysis and diabetes. She daily gave him two paisas (the minimum unit of currency at that time). One to spend on himself, and one on someone in need. The message her mother gave was one of caring for those in need. His personal experience imbibed a feeling of concern for people suffering from ailment with no one to take care of them. This laid the foundation of his character.
In 1948 Edhi and his family migrated to Karachi, Pakistan. To earn a living he started as a hawker. He then became a commission agent selling cloth. However, he soon realized that there was a lack of medical care in the nascent state. He realised he must do something about it. He saved some money to open a charitable clinic. Although he did not have formal education, he learned basic medical care from a doctor friend.
A defining moment
The year 1957 was a defining moment in his life. There was a major flu epidemic in the city of Karachi. He went wholeheartedly in providing relief to people by setting up tents and distributing free immunizations. He won the heart of people. They opened their hearts and there started a stream of donations that continued to increase with every passing year. A great bond of trust was created between the people and Edhi that remained unshakable. He purchased the entire building where his small clinic was located. He then established the Edhi Foundation, which continues today, and is run completely by public support.
A life of service
According to Edhi’s official record, Edhi Foundation has over 300 centres across the country in cities, towns, and rural areas. Services provided by Edhi Foundation include: baby cradles, destitute homes, welfare centers, highways projects, warehouses, field ambulance services, air ambulance services, marine and coastal service, blood and drug banks, cancer research hostel, missing person’s service, home for sheltering animals, graveyard services, Edhi emergency posts, prisoners aid, refugee assistance and international community centers. The foundation is a home for over 6,000 destitute, runaways and mentally ill people. It provides transportation to over 1,000,000 people annually the hospitals, in addition to other wide-ranging services. This was directly supervised by Edhi and his wife Bilqees.
Abdul Sattar Edhi, Bilquis Edhi, and their family led a simple life. They lived in a two-room small quarter near Edhi Trust building. “We have never really thought of who we are or what status we have. We just consider ourselves ordinary human beings and we work like common folk” says Bilquis Edhi. He is the recipient of a large number of national and international awards. Ramon Magsaysay Award, Lenin Peace Prize, International Balzan Prize, Nishan-e-Imtiaz, Human Rights Award are a few of them. He had been twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
In a famous quote, he says:: “No religion is higher than humanity and People have become educated, but have not become human.” This is a reminder of our mindless quest for power and money. The abdication of our responsibilities towards those in need and having an education system that teaches everything, but the importance of basic human values. Abdul Sattar Edhi had the trust that he could do it. He cultivated people’s trust in himself and went on to build Edhi Trust.
Edhi proved that there is always opportunity whatever the challenges and he is one out of the few who started from nothing and achieved everything that can make anyone proud. He was a man whose life is an inspiration for those who feel the pain of the suffering humanity but are constrained by lack of financial resources. He proved that those who want to do something but wait for something or someone to do something will not be able to do anything, nothing.