July 8, 2017
The first death anniversary of renowned philanthropist and social worker Abdul Sattar Edhi is today on Saturday.
We have lost an angel a year ago whose tireless work has helped save hundreds of thousands of lives and shown us what it means to be a man who lives for other people.
He died last year in Karachi of renal failure. He was offered treatment abroad, but insisted on being treated in a government hospital at home.
Abdul Sattar Edhi founded the world’s largest volunteer ambulance network in Pakistan, the Edhi Foundation.
Unlike wealthy individuals that fund charities in their names, Edhi dedicated his life to the poor from the age of 20, when he himself was penniless in Karachi.
The reach of Edhi’s foundation grew internationally, and in 2005 the organisation raised $100,000 in aid relief for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Edhi was born before partition in Bantva, Gujarat,British-India on February 28, 1928.
With more than 1,800 ambulances stationed across Pakistan, the Edhi Foundation is Pakistan’s largest welfare organisation. In 1997, the foundation entered the GuinnessWorld Records as the “largest volunteer ambulance organisation”.
If you call 115 in Pakistan, the Edhi Foundation will answer.
In his words, at the start of his work, Edhi “begged for donations” and “people gave”.
This allowed him to convert a tiny room into a medical dispensary. He also bought an ambulance that he himself drove around.
Raising more donations and enlisting medical students as volunteers, his humanitarian reach expanded across the country.
Today the Edhi Foundation runs outpatient hospitals, a child adoption centre and rescue boats.
It also helps in the burials of unidentified bodies.
There are cradles for “unwanted babies” outside Edhi emergency centres.
Throughout his life, Edhi emphasised the humanitarian, rather than religious, motivation for his work.
His foundation receives “zakat” (Islamic charity) donations, which he used to help Muslims, Christians and Hindus.
Asked why he helped non-Muslims, he said: “Because my ambulance is more Muslim than you.”
He also famously lamented: “People have become educated … but have yet to become human.”
When he died, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said: “Edhi was the real manifestation of love for those who are socially vulnerable, impoverished, helpless and poor. We have lost a great servant of humanity.”
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