Why is Karachi forever indebted to Edhi?

75-year-old Zohra Ismail’s challenges peaked when her husband had showed her out of their house after the birth a second daughter, over four decades ago. Back in her parents’ house, she had four more sister and ailing parents living day to day with meager income generated by only the father.

Back then, a woman stepping out of the house to make a living was not only looked down upon, but there was barely any employment opportunities. A nursing vacancy at the newly cropped up charitable organization, Edhi, struck her as the ray of hope and resisting all the family pressure, Zohra took that job.

She soon made head nurse after convincing Abdul Sattar Edhi she was the woman for the job. 44 years on, and Zohra baji, as she’s referred to, is still the head nurse there with a saga of friendship and an association with Edhi couple etched in her life.

The legacy of Edhis goes beyond the individuals who owe their lives and livelihoods to them. It’s also graced the gory terrorism-ridden history of Karachi with some respite, in the absence of state interest.

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From recovering and keeping the bodies of countless people who ended up dead on roads and/or fell to terrorism; to sheltering women who had to give up their families due to violence and domestic abuse; and children, especially the girl children whose families denied them parenting after bringing them to this world, hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis, and Karachiites in particular, have to pay their undying tribute to Edhi family.

For without them, the dark reality of this city would have been far more gloomier.