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Abdul Sattar Edhi

Abdul Sattar Edhi
 
 
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Profile
Abdul Sattar Edhi(1 January 1928 - 8 July 2016) was a prominent Pakistani philanthropist, social activist, ascetic, and humanitarian. He was the founder and head of the Edhi Foundation in Pakistan and ran the organization for the better part of six decades. He was known as Angel of Mercy and was considered Pakistan's "most respected" and legendary figure.In 2013, The Huffington Post said that he might be "the world's greatest living humanitarian."

Early life
Edhi was born in 1928 in Bantva in the Gujarat, British India. When he was eleven, his mother became paralysed from a stroke and she died when Edhi was 19. His personal experiences and care for his mother during her illness, caused him to develop a system of services for old, mentally ill and challenged people. The partition of India led Edhi and his family to migrate to Pakistan in 1947. He then shifted to Karachi to work in a market at a wholesale shop. His mother would give him 1 paisa for his meals and another to give to a beggar. He initially started as a peddler, and laterbecame a commission agent selling cloth in the wholesale market in Karachi. After a few years, he established a free dispensary with help from his community.

He told NPR in 2009 that "I saw people lying on the pavement ... The flu had spread in Karachi, and there was no one to treat them. So I set up benches and got medical students to volunteer. I was penniless and begged for donations on the street. And people gave. I bought this 8-by-8 room to start my work."


Vision
He had a vision of chains of welfare centers and hospitals that could be opened to alleviate the pain of those suffering from illness and neglect. He also thought of the in-human treatment meted out to the mentally ill, the insane and the disabled persons. Even at this early age, he felt personally responsible for taking on the challenge of developing a system of sevices to reduce human miseries. The task was huge; he had no resources. But it was something that he had to do even if he had to walk to the streets with a cap in hand to beg for this purpose.

Charity work
Edhi resolved to dedicate his life to aiding the poor, and over the next sixty years, he single handedly changed the face of welfare in Pakistan. Edhi founded the Edhi Foundation. Additionally, he established a welfare trust, named the Edhi Trust with an initial sum of a five thousand rupees which was later renamed as Bilqis Edhi Trust. Regarded as a guardian for the poor, Edhi began receiving numerous donations, which allowed him to expand his services. To this day, the Edhi Foundation continues to grow in both size and service, and is currently the largest welfare organization in Pakistan. Since its inception, the Edhi Foundation has rescued over 20,000 abandoned infants, rehabilitated over 50,000 orphans and has trained over 40,000 nurses. It also runs more than 330 welfare centers in rural and urban Pakistan which operate as food kitchens, rehabilitation homes, shelters for abandoned women and children and clinics for the mentally handicapped.

The Edhi Foundation, founded by Edhi, runs the world's largest ambulance service (operating 1,500 of them) and offers 24-hour emergency services. It also operates free nursing homes, orphanages, clinics, women's shelters, and rehab centers for drug addicts and mentally ill individuals. It has run relief operations in Africa, Middle East, the Caucasus region, eastern Europe and United States where it provided aid following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. His son Faisal Edhi, wife Bilquis Edhi and daughters managed the daily operations of the organization during his ill health.

Edhi was influenced by Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Mother Teresa. He was referred as Pakistan's version of Mother Teresa, and the BBC wrote that he was considered "Pakistan's most respected figure and was seen by some as almost a saint."


Bilquis Edhi
Abdul Sattat Edhi was married in 1965 to Bilquis, a nurse who worked at the Edhi dispensary. The couple have four children, two daughters and two sons. Bilquis runs the free maternity home at the headquarter in Karachi and organizes the adoption of illegitimate and abandoned babies. The husband-wife team has come to share the common vision of single minded devotion to the cause of alleviation of human sufferings and a sense of personal responsibility to respond to each call for help, regardless of race, creed or status.

Recognition

Together with his wife, Bilquis Edhi, he received the 1986 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service. He was also the recipient of the Lenin Peace Prize and the Balzan Prize. In 2006, Institute of Business Administration Pakistan conferred an honoris causa 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, Edhi received the Nishan-e-Imtiaz from the Government of Pakistan. On 1 January 2014, Edhi was voted the 2013 Person of the Year by the readers of The Express Tribune. He was recommended for a Nobel Peace prize by the Prime Minister of Pakistan with more than 30,000 signing a petition by Ziauddin Yousafzai, the father of Malala Yousafzai for his nomination.

Travel issues
In the early 1980s he was arrested by Israeli troops while entering Lebanon. In 2006, he was detained in Toronto, Canada, for 16 hours. In January 2008, US immigration officials interrogated Edhi at the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York for over eight hours, and seized his passport and other documents. When asked about the frequent detention Edhi said "The only explanation I can think of is my beard and my dress."

A national hero
Revered by many as a national hero, Mr Edhi created a charitable empire out of nothing. He masterminded Pakistan's largest welfare organisation almost single-handedly, entirely with private donations.

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, told AFP in an interview this year.

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.

Mr Edhi has been nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize, and appeared on the list again this year, put there by Malala Yousafzai, Pakistan's teenage Nobel laureate.

International awards
  • Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service (1986).
  • Lenin Peace Prize (1988).
  • Paul Harris Fellow from Rotary International.
  • Peace Prize from the former USSR, for services during the Armenian earthquake disaster (1998).
  • Hamdan Award for volunteers in Humanitarian Medical Services (2000), UAE.
  • International Balzan Prize (2000) for Humanity, Peace and Brotherhood, Italy.
  • Peace and Harmony Award (2001), Delhi.
  • Peace Award (2004), Mumbai.
  • Peace Award (2005), Hyderabad Deccan.
  • Wolf of Bhogio Peace Award (2005), Italy.
  • Gandhi Peace Award (2007), Delhi.
  • Peace Award (2008), Seoul.
  • Honorary doctorate from the Institute of Business Administration Karachi (2006).
  • UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize (2009).
  • Ahmadiyya Muslim Peace Prize (2010).
National awards
  • Silver Jubilee Shield by College of Physicians and Surgeons (1962�1987).
  • Moiz ur rehman Award (2015).
  • The Social Worker of Sub-Continent by Government of Sindh (1989).
  • Nishan-e-Imtiaz, civil decoration from the Government of Pakistan (1989).
  • Recognition of meritorious services to oppressed humanity during the 1980's by Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Government of Pakistan (1989).
  • Pakistan Civic Award from the Pakistan Civic Society (1992).
  • Shield of Honor by Pakistan Army (E & C).
  • Khidmat Award by the Pakistan Academy of Medical Sciences.
  • Human Rights Award by Pakistan Human Rights Society.

 
 
 
 
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