KARACHI: Celebrated humanitarian and Edhi Foundation Chairman Abdul Sattar Edhi passed away at the age of 88 in Karachi on Friday night.
Edhi's funeral prayers will be offered on Saturday after Zuhr prayers at the National Stadium, after which he will be laid to rest at Edhi village.
"He wished to be buried in the same clothes he used to wear. He also wanted to donate his body parts, but only his cornea can be donated as rest of the organs were not in healthy condition," said Faisal Edhi.
Edhi was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2013 but had been unable to get a transplant due to frail health. He was receiving treatment at the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT).
Earlier in the day, the philanthropist's son Faisal and wife Bilquis Edhi informed the media that doctors at the facility termed his condition critical.
He felt difficulty while breathing "after which the doctors decided to shift him on a ventilator".
In June, Edhi declined an offer by former president Asif Ali Zardari for treatment abroad, insisting on getting it done in Pakistan, particularly in a government hospital.
Born to a family of traders in Gujarat, Mr Edhi arrived in Pakistan in 1947.
The state’s failure to help his struggling family care for his mother – paralysed and suffering from mental health issues – was his painful and decisive turning point towards philanthropy.
In the sticky streets in the heart of Karachi, Mr Edhi, full of idealism and hope, opened his first clinic in 1951. “Social welfare was my vocation, I had to free it,” he says in his autobiography, ‘A Mirror To The Blind’.
Motivated by a spiritual quest for justice, over the years Mr Edhi and his team created maternity wards, morgues, orphanages, shelters and homes for the elderly – all aimed at helping those who cannot help themselves.
The most prominent symbols of the foundation – its 1,500 ambulances – are deployed with unusual efficiency to the scene of terrorist attacks that tear through the country with devastating regularity.
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.
Condolences pour in
Abdul Sattar Edhi’s tireless work has helped save hundreds of thousands of lives and shown us what it means to be a man who works for the people, read a statement issued by PM Office.
“Despite all his success, he has always stayed humble, living a simple life in a small house barely large enough to encapsulate his enormous heart.”
In his most difficult hour, may Allah bestow upon him all the fortune that he bestowed upon the people of this country and treat him with the care that a man of his stature deserves, the statement added.
Other political leaders and celebrities turned to Twitter to offer their condolences.
Pakistan is a country notorious for corruption, extremism, gender inequality, poor rankings on human development index (HDI) and bad governance. Seeing this, a random thought knocked one’s mind. How could a country survive for 68 years in the midst of the such malpractices by civil military leadership and a general apathy of people towards the state of affairs in the country? Perhaps, the most appropriate answer of this question can be deduced from the following paragraph.
The charisma, which keeps Pakistan moving along and progressing against all odds, is the unconditional support and determined efforts of people like ‘Abdul Sattar Edhi’. People who serve their country not for monetary benefits, not for votes, not for fame, not for material reward but for the empathy they have for their fellow humans, and to discharge the agony they feel for their less fortunate brothers and sisters suffering from pain and poverty. These are the people who dedicate their lives for the service of humanity. They serve their people and country with the best of their abilities. They act as torchbearers; illuminate the path of success and escort their country on this path.
Abdul Sattar Edhi was one of the most celebrated humanitarian, social worker and a saint from Pakistan. His welfare organization ‘Edhi Foundation’ is a well reputed and highly esteemed NGO of the world; famous for its old houses, orphanage, ambulance services, rehabilitation centers for mental patients and drug addicts, clinics, women shelters, and free food kitchens.
Abdul Sattar Edhi led a very simple life, owned just two pair of low-cost sharlwar kameez ( national dress of Pakistan), slept on the floors without ACs, ate simple food, got treatment from the ordinary medical hospitals and left the comforts of live for the affection of his fellow human beings. He had a heart of gold and crystal clear eye sight which made him realize that material comforts are ephemeral and what lasts forever is your legacy; a legacy of altruism, a legacy of universal love for humanity without any concerns for geographical borders, a legacy of simplicity, a legacy of kindness and a legacy of honesty. These legacies of Adbul Sattar Edhi have attired the mortal Edhi in an immortal cloak. The serious concerns of this kindhearted humanitarian for the well being of orphans, poor, distressed and needy can be estimated from his last words.
‘Take care of poor Pakistanis’
History will remember him as a person who sacrificed his personal aspirations for the welfare of others, who begged on the roads, under the scorching sun, to collect funds for oppressed, needy and orphans, who deteriorated his own health to raise orphans and missing children, who left his business to start schools for the orphans and street children, who created the world’s largest networks of ambulances to rescue the victims of natural calamities, terrorist attacks, and road accidents, who traveled to war wretched places to save as many persons as he could, who helped communities afflicted by plagues, pandemics and serious diseases like cancer and aids, and who served the humanity without any ulterior motives but the motive of compassion for the fellow humans.
July 8, 2016 is not only a sad day for Pakistan but also for the whole world as Abdul Sattar Edhi’s work is not limited to Pakistan only. Abdul Sattar Edhi served in Pakistan, India, Africa, Middle Ease, Caucasus Region, Eastern Europe and United States. Government of Pakistan nominated Mr. Abdul Sattar Edhi for Nobel Prize in 2011 for his services. Let’s have a glance at Mr. Edhi’s achievements and learn from his wise words which will help us bring out our good self and to subjugate the evils residing in ourselves.
Words of Wisdom by Abdul Sattar Edhi
- No religion is higher than humanity.
- People know that I have adopted four principles in living my life: simple living, punctuality, hard work and prudence.
- You have to care for all beings created by God…My mission is to help any person in need.
- Beware of those who attribute petty instructions to God.
- I work for the suffering of a common man, something I am very proud of and will continue to do.
Quotes Courtesy: azquotes
Awards and Honors
- Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service (1986)
- Lenin Peace Prize (1988)
- Paul Harris Fellow from Rotatory International Foundation, (1993)
- Peace Prize from (USSR former) for services in the Armenian earthquake disaster, (1998)
- Largest Voluntary Ambulance Organization of the World – Guinness Book of World Records (2000)
- Hamdan Award for volunteers in Humanitarian Medical Services (2000) UAE
- International Balzan Prize (2000) for Humanity, Peace and Brotherhood, Italy
- Peace and Harmony Award (Delhi), 2001
- Peace Award (Mumbai), 2004
- Peace Award (Hyderabad Deccan), 2005
- Wolf of Bhogio Peace Award (Italy), 2005
- Gandhi Peace Award (Delhi),2007
- UNESCO Madan jeet sing Peace Award (Paris),2007
- Peace Award Seoul (South Korea), 2008
- Honorary Doctorate degree from the Institute of Business Administration Karachi (2006).
- UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize (2009)
- Peace Award (London), 2011
- Silver Jubilee Shield by College of Physicians and Surgeons, Pakistan
- The Social Worker of Sub-Continent by Government of Sind, Pakistan, (1989)
- Nishan-e-Imtiaz, civil decoration from Government of Pakistan (1989)
- Recognition of meritorious services to oppressed humanity during eighties 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 Pakistan Academy of Medical Sciences
- Human Rights Award by Pakistan Human Rights Society
Abdul Sattar Edhi wished to be buried in the same clothes he used to wear. In his testator he donated his body organs to the one in need. He was, by all means, a hero and an angel. He taught people that you don’t need fame to bring change.
I don’t think anyone care for something more than their own life or health but he, the greatest, Abdul Sattar Edhi when offered by the government to be taken abroad for his treatment, he, at once, refused by saying that he will not leave Pakistan.
No words are enough to pay tribute to this great humanitarian. Words cannot define the person of his stature. Not only Pakistan but the world has lost a great human being. I firmly believe that God will accept him with open arms for all the good he has done while he was on this earth.
‘A good heart has stopped beating, a good soul ascended to heaven.’
Besides prayer, thoughts of love, flowers and tears, best tribute anyone can pay to Abdul Sattar Edhi is by continuing his work and joining hands with his foundations.