Edhi
Op-ed

Humanity Salutes Edhi

Azhar Saeed Hashmi

Abdul Sattar Edhi is known as Pakistan’s most well-liked figure for his contributions to the society. He devoted his life to charity work and his Edhi Foundation runs the world’s largest volunteer ambulance service. Even after his death, Abdul Sattar performed his last act of charity by donating his corneas, giving sight to two visually disabled people. It’s been a year to the death of Pakistani renowned philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi. Pakistan deplored the loss of its “Richest poor man”.

One of most inspiring stories from Abdul Sattar Edhi’s incredible autobiography “Made aware of the presence of God in humanitarianism.” Edhi is only about 9 years old and tries to help a man from the bazaar that is deeply sick and injured. To his surprise, the man recovers almost completely after young Edhi gives some simple first aid, bread and a blanket. Over the next 21 days, Edhi brings bread each day to the mosque and learns from the man, until one day the man from the bazaar just disappears, without a trace and without young Edhi even knowing his name.

From this “small beginning,” a phrase Edhi often used in the book, he had gone on to set up Edhi Foundation, an institution that represents the very best of Pakistan, impacting the lives of over 60 million people with over 2,000 ambulances, 375 fully equipped health centers, over 56,000 nurses trained, over 100,000 orphans saved, and much more.

Hard working was essence of Edhi whole life struggle as he wrote in his autobiography that keeps working, only when you work, automatically everything will happen. Keep working, keep working, and keep working. You cannot do anything else, just keep working. God will help you. Erasing of the self was imperative. Everything unrelated to welfare must go; even the songs I heard on the radio were turned off. “This is not your subject” I told myself, “do not lose yourself for a minute.” I repeated it to myself all the time, “Each moment must be invested towards that far away goal in the future.”

Edhi had given his whole life to humanity: for example, when he started his first dispensary, a small 8×8 rented space in Mithadar; he slept on the bench outside so that he could serve customers 24 hours a day. And more than 65+ years, he had not let up for a single moment: “Our work is to try, and God is the one who gives strength and who makes all the work easier. Our work is to try and try and opt for simplicity, honesty and hard work.” That was the 2nd principle Edhi’s life.

Everything about him is so profoundly simple: he only had two outfits, till his last breath, he personally begged on the street on behalf of others even though Edhi Foundation had thousands of employees, he had driven nothing but an ambulance for his whole life, and for over 60 years he lived in the same two bedroom house which was in the middle of the community he served and was completely accessible, with no security, to everyone.

“As long as people can believe in simplicity, honesty, and hard work, Pakistan can change. If the wealth distribution is fair, it will change the poverty level. But nobody wants wealth distribution to happen properly.” Fair distribution of resources was dream of Edhi.

Edhi sacrificed even included his personal marriage. As he wrote in his book, after 7 marriage rejections over a 2 year because he was either “too poor or too strict or too religious or too much of a miser”.  Edhi decided to focus exclusively on work and “put the idea aside so strongly that nothing had stirred it again” for 9 years. And not until he was in his late 30’s when he met his beloved Bilquis, whom he said God had blessed me with her. “The result of both depends on the intention. If you get the right partner, then life is good. But if you don’t get the right partner then life is very difficult.”

Edhi’s story starts with the man from the bazaar and young Edhi’s “small beginning” of discovering that God is in humanity, and today after 80 years, now Pakistan deploring the great loss of its “Richest poor man.”
“Humanity is the biggest religion, it covers everything. When a human becomes a human then all the problems are resolved, no discrimination or difference is left. Serving humanity is the biggest religion.”

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Mian Bilal

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