By Natasha .
Charity , credibility , humanity are a few words that instantly come to mind when the name Edhi is mentioned. Abdul Sattar Edhi ,the declared ‘faqeer’ or ‘beggar’ as he describes himself is one man the country adores and admires unanimously. With an entire life dedicated to the uplifting of the poor, Edhi sahib inspires millions of Pakistanis around the world to work for the cause of humanity.
A mirror to the blind , Abdul Sattar Edhi is one man who has unconditionally loved this nation plagued with countless problems. His life is a blessing to this country , to the world and to all those who are wasting their lives in persuit of insignifacant goals.
The passion for charity sown into his heart in his childhood by his mother grew each day, turning him into ‘the’ man who took it upon himself to eradicate from the society, the sufferings it faced in one form or the other.
Born in Gujrat in present day India , Edhi’s family migrated to Pakistan where they settled in Karachi. The dispensary he set up in his neighbourhood , Mithadar, became the foundation stone of the Edhi Foundation. Today, Edhi is the most respected philanthropist of the country. His Edhi Foundation serves humanity across the world.
Providing a twenty-four hours emergency service , the Edhi foundation provides numerous services. The ambulance service provided by the organization has served millions of Pakistanis since its starting.The largest fleet of ambulances working throughout Pakistan , Edhi ambulances are the most easily accessible ones during times of emergency. Along with field ambulance services , the Edhi foundation also provides air ambulance services – providing transportation of doctors to remote and disater-hit areas ,conducting search and rescue operations, transfering patients from one hospital to another , transporting food supplies to people stranded in war-torn areas, transporting blood and human organs,conducting geological surveys of under gorund water in famine stricken deserts of Pakistan etc.
The Burial services provided for unclaimed bodies is a blessing for those who die in conditions of anonymity. Edhi himself gets involved in providing funeral services to those who are abandoned either by families or the society.In his autobiography ‘a mirror to the blind’, Edhi narrates an incident where the family would not come forward to deal with the deceased due to the stench caused by decomposition of the body whereas he, being a complete stranger, carried out the funeral services putting the unfortunte relative to eternal rest.
His compassion is not only restricted to the ‘ashraf-ul-makhlookat. Edhi also extended his passion to the innocent animals left to be trampled on roads. On encountering a dead animal on a road etc. Edhi never passed by feeling sympathetic towards the animal and doing nothing. He personally carried hundreds of dead animals and disposed off their bodies – something most of us would never think of doing.
Edhi’s cradle home scheme has prevented millions of unwanted babies from being killed , dumped or abandoned. Edhi has taken it upon himself to give these babies a respectable status in the society providing them shelter, education and skills necessary to make a living. Babies abandoned due to poverty or any other reason are welcome at Edhi homes. Edhi is their father.
From psychotic centres dealing with mentally disturbed to rehabilitation centres for drug addicts , Edhi and his staff are responsible for improving millions of lives across the country. Maulana Abu is what Edhi was known as in the psychotic centre in Karachi. Kids used to wait for their Maulana Abu each friday to give them a bath himself. While such people are dealt with contempt in the largely illiterate society of Pakistan , Maulana Abu made sure he showered his love on these unfortunate kids, washing them himself turn by turn.
From Hospitals providing free medical facilities to awareness centres providing literacy, medical care, sanitation programs, immunisation, safe drinking water and community support on self-help basis , Edhi has tried to improve the Pakistani society in every way possible for him. Donating blood, funds and other medical facilities to government run hospitals Edhi has proven to be one of the biggest support to our unstable governments over the decades.
Edhi Welfare centres providing free food and shelter are home to the destitutes , old, runaways and all those abandoned by the society and their loved ones. When nobody needs them , Edhi does- for the love of his duty towards his unfortunate fellow beings.
His compassion towards animals has resulted in the establishment of animal shelters catering welfare services to various abandoned , diseased , crippled and wounded animals including dogs, cats, mules, donkeys , horses and different kinds of birds.
The credibility Edhi has earned throughout the world is largely due to his extra-ordinarily simple life-style. Edhi does not sit in air-conditioned rooms and ask for money. He does not roam about in toyotas, eats at five star resturants and sleeps on cozy mattresses. Despite being the country’s most respectable man , Edhi is the most simple Pakistani one can ever come across. He wears worn out clothes and chappals, eats simple food, usually stale bread, and spent his life sleeping at a bench outside his dispensary at Mithadar.Despite having the ability to lead a comfortable life, he chooses to live like a beggar. While various other social workers live in bungalows and ask for money , Edhi goes out in the scorching heat and’ begs‘ for his countrymen at an old age.
His humanitarian work is not restricted to Pakistan. He believes in working for the destitutes wherever they are. Age , religion , race, sect, nationality do not matter to the Edhi Foundation. Welfare services have been extended throughout the world including the United Kingdom , United States, Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal , India, Sudan, Uganda, Russia , Ethiopia, Japan, UAE, Hungary , Canada , Afghanistan, Sri Lanka. Edhi is available for all.
Although not a Maulana , as he is popularly called , Edhi understands the basic message of Islam more than many other learned men. His emphasises Huqooq-ul-ibaad ( the rights of fellow human beings) being a means to completing Huquq Allah (the rights of God). According to Edhi , people concentrate on the ritualisitic side of Islam :
“We verbally and ritualistically adopt Huquq Allah but ignore that Huquq ul Ibad is the fundamental principal that implements it”
He believes the Social Welfare System to be the only way forward for Pakistan and the world at large. He believes his Edhi foundation is one step towards achieving that goal and the system must be adopted by the Third World to rid itself of its countless problems.
Edhi has won various national and international awards including Pakistan’s highest civil award Nishan-e-Imtiaz in 1989 and the UNESCO Madanjeet award for his efforts towards promoting tolerance and non-violence. Many Pakistanis are hopeful about a Nobel Peace Prize for Edhi sahab for dedicating his life to the mankind.
Labels like Shaikh Chilli (a dreamer), mad man, communist, fraud, soft-organ trader, Israeli agent and Indian spy by propagandists aiming to disrupt his humanitarian work never discouraged Edhi. He rose higher and higher with every stone pelted at him. His work , life and credibility fought every allegation thrown at him by his enemies.He has influenced many to work for social welfare but no one until now has been able to stand up to him. Today, Edhi lives in every Pakistani heart and has acquired the status of the ‘real’ hero. The man indeed is the ‘pride of Pakistan’. .