ISLAMABAD: The fourth death anniversary of prominent philanthropist and national hero Abdul Sattar Edhi – the man behind the Edhi Foundation, which runs the world’s largest volunteer ambulance network – was observed on Wednesday.
Edhi had died on July 8, 2016. ‘Edhi’ became one of the top trends on Twitter in Pakistan. Many shared quotes by Edhi: “Today is the fourth death anniversary of Abdul Sattar Edhi. ‘My religion is humanitarianism, which is the basis of every religion in the world.’ #Edhi.”
Many international and national awards, including the Asian Nobel, the Lenin Peace Prize and Nishan-e-Imtiaz were bestowed upon him in recognition of his services for humanity.
Revered by many as a national hero, Edhi created a charitable empire out of nothing. He masterminded Pakistan’s largest welfare organisation almost single-handedly, entirely with private donations. Born to a family of traders in Gujarat, Edhi arrived in Pakistan in 1947.
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 towards philanthropy.
Edhi opened his first clinic in 1951 in Karachi. “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, Edhi and his team over the years created maternity wards, morgues, orphanages, shelters and homes for the elderly – all aimed at helping those who cannot help themselves.
The most prominent symbols of the foundation – its 1,500 ambulances – are deployed with efficiency to the scene of terrorist attacks that tear through the country.
Content with just two sets of clothes, he slept in a windowless room of white tiles adjoining the office of his charitable foundation. Sparsely equipped, it had just one bed, a sink and a hotplate.
“He never established a home for his own children,” his wife Bilquis, who manages the foundation’s homes for women and children, had said in an interview.
What he has established is something of a safety net for the poor and destitute, mobilising the nation to donate and help take action – filling a gap left by a lack of welfare state. – TLTP