Abdul Sattar Edhi is not only the pride of Pakistan, but also the Islamic world. The founder of Edhi Foundation had realized the value of Islam as rahmatan lil ‘alamien or blessing of the universe. It is reflected in the humanitarian actions which he had done almost entire of his life. He passed away on last July 2016, but for the Pakistani people, the name of ‘Sattar Edhi’ always be internalized in their heart.
His humanitarian services penetrated the blocks of race, ethnicity, and religion. In an interview, Edhi said : “my religion is to serve the humanity and I believe that all religion in the world has the basic values of humanity. Religion should be reflected from your heart. Open your heart and see these servants of God. In their suffering, you will find Him”.
The people give him a tittle “Angel of Mercy” and “The Father of Poor from Pakistan”, while the occupants of “Edhi Homes” called him ‘Nana’ (Grandfather). The Huffington Pos acknowledged him as the greatest humanitarian figure in the world. Furthermore, his death was accompanied by a state ceremony. Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan said, “Edhi is the real diamond and Pakistan asset. We loose an amazing humanitarian servant. He is the manifestation of love for the poor, weak, and oppressed.”
Although Edhi have the Islamic traditional background, he has an open, moderate, and progressive mind. He was very supportive to the idea of working women. In Edhi Foundation, around 5000 workers are women who are responsible with several programs and humanitarian aid and also as the leaders in some center of services.
Because of his humanitarian services, Edhi had around 250 prizes from domestic and foreign countries, for example Gandhi Peace Award, Madanjeet Singh Price from UNESCO year 2007, London Peace Award in year 2011, Seoul Price Award in year 2008, and Hamdan Award for Volunteers in Humanitarian Medical Services. Although many people proposed Nobel of Peace for hill, but till the end of his life he had not reached it yet.
Doing Something, Although When He Has Nothing
Edhi was born in year 1928 in a small village in Bantva, Gujarat (India). When he was 11 years old, his mother was lame and had a mental illness. His mother passed away when he was 19 years old. His journey of life was different with the children of his age. He even could not finished his Senior High School. For him, the suffering of life is his teacher and source of wisdom.
Edhi and his family than migrated to Pakistan in year 1947, exactly in Karachi. When he came, the condition of Pakistan after separated themselves from India was very concerned. In the such Islamic state, there was a communal conflict that lead to violence, further more ethnic cleansing. In the beginning of his move, Edhi works as a market labor and lived in the Karachi streets. He was poor and has nothing. But Edhi has a big vision: doing for the humanity, especialy for the Pakistani people.
According to Edhi, democracy that had been echoed including in his country, was only perfect on paper, but not for the implementation. It was reflected that the inequalities between the poor and the rich is still exist, so that the criminality run amok. He feels that he must do something to help the people around him. And this is stated in an interview by Vice. Edhi and some members of his community then built pharmacy and free clinics. In the beginning, this humanitarian acts was so called “Edhi Trust”. The movement had been developed with the fund from public sources, and finally they can build a maternity home and free ambulance services.
Edhi was married in 1965 with Bilquis, a nurse who worked in Edhi’s pharmacy. The couple had four children, two daughters and two sons. Edhi and his wife built a clinic for the poor, and built a shelter for the orphanage. They perceived that the public health services in Pakistan is not enough. This sector became their main concern.
When Edhi Foundation was growing rapidly, he still said that he is still a “Faqir” (poor). “Poor among his God.” His daughter, who was since the beginning had been supporting for his struggle, said that he never thought about himself. Edhi had never bought a house for himself and his family. But, he built at least 375 centers or shelter for the poor. That shelter received around 8-10 women in a day. The majority of women who came to his shelter were treated as slave in his family and environment. They came and brought children to learn in Edhy Foundation because the could not afford the proper living and did not have any money to go to school.
Edhy didn’t want to be bounded with the material world. He said in an interview for Think Twice Pakistan, “I decide to live with the simplicity”. Simple shirt and shoes are more than enough, because I want to focus in the humanity. Unfortunately, there are some educated people, but they have not been becoming human. We have to become human being, and work for the humanity.”
Edhi Foundation has several humanitarian services, such as ambulance services, hospitals, child care, center and house of the orphanage, help-line services, education services, funeral services, service of missing people, refugee help, wedding bureau service, free kitchen services, charity shop, animal hostel, rehabilitation center, welfare center, bakery, kitchen, rooti plantation, mortuary, and qurban online sevices.
Edhi Foundation plays its role to save the life thousands of born babies by placing the nursing and childcare center for whom were neglected, to take care of the people with disabilities, to take care of the women and elderly people especially for them who experienced torture or neglected by their family, to support the sick patient by providing free medicine and other medicine through mobile pharmacy, hospitals, and diabetic center in Karachi.
The Neglected Health: The Sick of Human Soul
Edhi did not want to discriminate the rich and the poor in the health care access. This motivation encourage himself to build free health access, and focused his attention to the healthcare of the poor. In managing Edhi Foundation, he never ask help neither from the politician nor the government, but from his own help and also the voluntary help of the people.
Because of his sincerity and dedication, Edhi Foundation was appointed as the biggest Foundation/Institution with the highest number of volunteers in Pakistan, and even in the world. This foundation has around 1800 ambulances that are ready to serve the poor people 24 hours in a day, regardless of their race and religion. For several years, there are always some people who ask for him, “Why does your ambulance used to bring the Christian and Hindu people?” He said, “Because these ambulances are more Islamic than all of you”.
The land ambulance services has the biggest number of ambulance vehicles in the world. In addition to that, there are some air ambulance services with 2 aero planes and a helicopter which are used to give humanitarian aid during the natural disaster. There was also sea ambulance which have 28 rescue ships to provide help and to look for the people from the flood area and to recover the drowning people on the shore of Arabian ocean, and etc.
There are also the mortuary services, namely a room to store the coffin. For example, for the corpse that could not be identified anymore, who died because of the accident, bomb explosion, shooting, and etc. Edhi Foundation also has the funeral to bury the corpse, and around 96.000 corpses had been buried in this funeral.
In addition to the ambulances, in the health areas, Edhi Foundation also had built hospitals in which there are free consultation clinic services, laboratory, the pre-diabetic center, the center of nursing training skills, immunization center, and patient utility center. The foundation also had save more than 20.000 babies and toddler left behind by their parents, and also had taken care of more than 50.000 orphanage, and also trained more than medical persons to become humanitarian volunteers.
Edhi Foundation also had more than 330 welfare centers both in the rural and urban areas that can be functioned as the kitchen, clinics, rehabilitation center, refugee camps, etc. and all of them are free for the poor. His passion to the humanitarian action was reflected through his daily life.
In an interview which was done by a journalist in Lahore 1991, Edhi said, “I ask the people not to invite me in the such social gathering and inauguration ceremony. This waste my times that specially I totally dedicate our people welfare.”In addition to that, he said, “Everyday he feels that he will face the death, but life must go on and I have to do the good deeds. And you will find me in the middle of the common people, there will be my story with them .”