Abdul Sattar Edhi – a prominent philanthropist and humanitarian – is the founder and head of a non-profit social welfare program in Pakistan called Edhi Foundation. Edhi is the head of the organization and his wife Bilquis, a nurse, oversees the maternity and adoption services of the foundation. Edhi has dedicated his entire life serving the humanity regardless of their race, faith, color or gender. Huffington Post described him as the greatest living humanitarian in the world.
Abdul Sattar Edhi (now 88) was born in 1928 in a small village of Bantva, Gujrat (then British India). When he was eleven, his mother became paralyzed and later grew mentally ill and died when he was 19. His personal experiences and the seeds of compassion for the suffering humanity caused him to develop a system of services for old, mentally ill and challenged people. Edhi’s social welfare services are spanned over his entire life, nearly six decades, offering exclusive sacrifices in various areas. Edhi moved to Pakistan after the subcontinent partition in 1947. He initially started his professional life as a pedlar and later became a commission agent. As a commission agent, he sold cloth in a wholesale market in Karachi for few years and after saving some money and with the help of the community, he established a free dispensary in his area which was the birthplace of soon to be Pakistan’s biggest welfare trust named as ‘Edhi Trust’.
After Edhi Trust, his vision became clear and he decided to establish a growing system of multifarious services to help the needy. A public appeal was made to collect funds for the expansion and development of Edhi Trust. The good response raised over Pakistani Rupees. 200,000. Edhi expanded the scope and reach of Edhi Trust to a remarkable level with his compassion driven spirit. After years of dedicatedly serving the humanity, Edhi got married to Bilquis in 1965. Bilquis started working at the Edhi Trust’s Edhi dispensary as a nurse. The couple has four children. Edhi Trust later started a maternity home which has been run by Bilquis and an emergency ambulance service was launched. The emergency ambulance service grew rapidly across the country and now has more than 500 ambulances; thus holding the Guinness record for the world’s “Largest Volunteer Ambulance Organization” since 1997.
Despite receiving numerous national and international awards, and recognition; Edhi still remains and maintains a simple life. He is the man who dreamed of changing the world of countless people and he became a legacy of change. He is the man who started as one man operating from a single room house in Karachi is now the Edhi Foundation. He still resides in the single room house with his wife and continuous to serve the humanity despite permanently being on dialysis for the rest of his life. Edhi Foundation has over 300 centers across Pakistan in rural and urban areas, providing aid to the children, women, elderly, and mentally ill and challenged people. They have a well-established network of ambulances and emergency assistance to all those in need in a country as challenged as Pakistan by terrorism and peace disability. His dream to alleviate the pain of those suffering from illness and neglect has helped countless in Pakistan.
Since its inception, the Edhi Foundation has buried over 200,000 unclaimed dead bodies, organized the adoption of illegitimate and abandoned babies, rescued over 20,000 abandon infants, rehabilitated over 50,000 orphans and has trained over 40,000 nurses and has run relief operations in Africa, Middle East, the Caucasus region, eastern Europe and US where it provided aid following the New Orleans hurricane of 2005.
Today, the Edhi Foundation provides shelter for the destitute, free hospitals and medical care, drug rehabilitation services, national relief efforts, emergency services, blood and drug bank, training for women and ambulance services. Since 1965, Edhi and his wife become a team to share the common vision of a single mind devoted to selflessly and dedicatedly serve the humanity without expecting anything in return. They have an aim of alleviation of human sufferings and a responsibility to help those in need regardless of race, creed or faith. Edhi and his wife are living example of truly unparalleled and unmatched compassion for humanity which drives my utmost desire to live my life with aiming for such compassion and dedication for humanity. He is my role model and I daily contribute to his global mission to serve those in need.