Legendary Pakistani philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi, who devoted his life for the helpless and poor community, died at the age of 88 on Friday at a Karachi Hospital after suffering from prolonged illness since his kidney failure in 2013.
Edhi’s condition had deteriorated in the last few weeks, and he was breathing with the help of the ventilator. A gem of a person, Abdul Sattar Edhi founded the Edhi Foundation which became to be World’s largest social welfare organisation in the world.
The Edhi Foundation provides food, shelters, and rehabilitation centres all across Pakistan and other countries. Edhi foundation runs 330 welfare centres in Pakistan, both in urban and rural areas to help mentally ill individuals and drug addicts. Since its beginning, the foundation has rescued more than 50,000 orphans, and 20,000 abundant infants, while it has trained more than 40,000 nurses.
60 years ago, Edhi stood on a street corner in Karachi and begged for money for an ambulance, raising enough to buy a battered old van. In it, he set out on countless life-saving missions. Gradually, Mr Edhi set up centres all over Pakistan.
He was born in 1928, when the British Empire was at its height, in Gujarat in what is now western India. But he and his family were forced to flee for their lives in 1947 when the division of India and creation of Pakistan brought about terrible communal carnage: millions were killed in mob violence and ethnic cleansing. It was then that Mr Edhi, finding himself penniless on the streets of Karachi set out on his life’s mission.
The Edhi Foundation had started with Rs 5,000/- now the foundation receives donations in big numbers. The foundation has been a life saviour to thousands of newly born babies, by taking care of abandoned children, while the women who suffered torture at their homes were given shelter, food and provided safety. Free medication is provided to patients suffering from many diseases, and this support is brought to handicapped people also. There is a lot that the Edhi foundation does, including conducting marriages of boys and girls who can’t afford the expenses.
Geeta, a speech and hearing impaired Indian lady,, who accidentally crossed the border to Pakistan when she was 7 or 8 years old was handed her over by Pakistani soldiers to Edhi Foundation in Karachi.
Moreover, it also helps people to settle in their lives after being affected by natural disasters such as floods and droughts. Several relief operations have been run by the Foundation in the countries of Africa, Middle East, US, Eastern Europe etc., to help make living conditions better for people there.
No wonder, Abdul Sattar Edhi was the recipient of numerous awards which include the Lenin Peace Prize, and Nishan-e-Imtiaz from Pakistan Government. He was awarded the Person of the year in 2013 by The Express Tribune newspaper. He received the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1968, with his wife Mrs. Bilquis Edhi, for Public Service.
Neki kar, dariya mein daal (Do charitable work and throw it in the water, meaning forget about it). This seems to be another guiding principle of the founders, as shown by the fact that all the initiatives by the Edhi Foundation have been put into action without any expectation of monetary or financial gains. The wide number of facilities are provided selflessly by the foundation which also receives donations in large numbers from general public. The Guardian newspaper regarded Edhi as, “a legendary charity worker known for his asceticism.” He has often been regarded as the greatest living humanitarian in the world. In November, 2011, former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Yousaf Raza Gillani, recommended his name for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Don’t Give Up World Team pays condolences to him and hopes he inspires people from all over the world to continue his legacy.