Edhi remembered on 2nd death anniversary
KARACHI: The second death anniversary of legendary philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi is being observed today.
Edhi, who built a network of humanitarian centers across the country to provide life-saving services to the people, died on July 8, 2016 at the age of 89.
He was born to a family of Muslim traders in Gujarat in British India and migrated to Pakistan after its creation in 1947. He began his humanitarian work soon after migration.
The state’s failure to help his struggling family care for his mother — paralysed and suffering from mental health issues — was his painful and decisive turning point which spurred him onto philanthropy.
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In the sticky streets in the heart of Karachi, Edhi, full of idealism and hope, opened his first clinic in 1951. “Social welfare was my vocation, I had to free it,” he says in his autobiography, “A Mirror To The Blind”.
Motivated by a spiritual quest for justice, over the years Edhi and his team have created maternity wards, morgues, orphanages, shelters, and homes for the elderly aimed at helping those in society who cannot help themselves.
He was also mentioned in the Guinness Book of world records for the largest fleet of ambulances, offering help to poor communities failed by inadequate public health and welfare services.These 1500 ambulances are the most prominent symbols of the foundation deployed to the scene in case of an emergency or extremist attack.
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The foundation’s adoption service sees unwanted children — many of them girls — left in cradles placed in front of every centre, where they can be safely cared for.
Mr Edhi discovered that many women were killing their babies at birth often because they were born outside marriage. One newborn child was stoned to death outside a mosque on the orders of religious leaders. Edhi was furious and responded: “Who can declare an infant guilty when there is no concept of punishing the innocent?”
He placed a little cradle outside every Edhi centre, beneath a placard saying: “Do not commit another sin: leave your baby in our care.” Edhi has so far saved 35,000 babies and and also found families to cherish them.
Edhi‘s response has been hard work and an obstinate asceticism, a bid to leave his enemies with no ammunition.
Abdul Sattar Edhi received several prestigious awards in his lifelong service of mankind. Edhi received the 1986 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service in Manila, Philippines also known as the Asian Noble. He was also the recipient of the Lenin Peace Prize and the Balzan Prize in Italy.
In 2006, Institute of Business Administration Pakistan (IBA) conferred an honorary degree of Doctor of Social Service Management for his services. In September 2010, Edhi was also awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Bedfordshire. In 1989, he received the Nishan-e-Imtiaz from the Government of Pakistan.
The annual budget of 1.5 billion rupees ($15 million), mainly from donations by middle- and working-class Pakistanis, continues to grow, according to Faisal. The Edhi foundation was also at the forefront of the response last year when a devastating heatwave struck Karachi last year.
He built up his charity solely through donations focusing on addicts, battered women, orphans and the disabled. Renowned for an ascetic lifestyle and recognized by his long white beard and traditional black cap, Edhi was a hero to the poor but infuriated some religious leaders for his refusal to give preferential treatment to Muslims above minorities.
During his last days and as his condition worsened, he refused offers to get medical treatment from abroad. Edhi leaves behind his wife Bilquis and six children.