The Edhi may have been gone but his legacy lives on. Abdul Sattar Edhi was the founder of the Edhi Foundation, which became famous for running the largest volunteer ambulance network in the world. The foundation also runs homeless shelters, animal shelters, rehab centers and orphanages across Pakistan.
Abdul Sattar Eidhi, who founded the world’s largest volunteer ambulance service, died on July 9th, 2016 in Karachi after a prolonged illness.
Edhi, who was born in British India on 28 February 1928, migrated to Pakistan in 1947 along with his family and dedicated his life to poor and needy from the age of 20 – when he was also penniless.
What started off as a free dispensary in 1951, went on to become the largest charity organization in Pakistan.
In his own words, Edhi “begged for donations” at the start of his work and “people gave”.
Abdul Sattar Edhi was honored with several awards for his selfless services in the cause of humanity, both on the national and international level. He was Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize but his services for humanity were too much higher than the Nobel Prize.
From having one ambulance which he drove himself, the Edhi Foundation now has 2,400 ambulances and three air ambulances stationed across the country.
In fact, in 1997 the Edhi Foundation entered the Guinness World Records as the “largest volunteer ambulance organization”.
Manu humanitarian organizations and philanthropists have paid glowing tributes to the late Edhi on his death anniversary and observed that his contributions were unprecedented not only in Pakistan but across the world.
Prime Minister Sharif declared national mourning on the day following Edhi’s death and announced a state funeral for him. He became the third Pakistani to receive historical state gun carriage funeral after Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Zia ul Haq. At the time, he was the only Pakistani without a state authority or a state role to receive a state funeral. According to Inter-Services Public Relations, state honors were given to Edhi by a guard of honour and a 19-gun salute.
In the early 1980s, Edhi was arrested by Israeli troops while entering Lebanon. In 2006, he was detained in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, for 16 hours. In January 2008, U.S.immigration officials interrogated Edhi at the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City 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.” Because he was a Muslim and he had a beard, the authorities thought of him as a terrorist.
The foundation also runs more than 300 welfare centers across the country that operate as food kitchens, rehabilitation homes, shelters for abandoned women and children and clinics for the mentally handicapped.
The Edhi Foundation also runs eight outpatient hospitals, a child adoption center, and morgues.
Edhi received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for public service in 1986 and was honored with the Nishan-e-Imtiaz in 1989.
“Edhi was was an asset and the true identity of Pakistan. The best way to pay homage to Edhi is to serve the distressed among all humanity,”
Written by: Saud Ahmed Chandoor