(Spirit of Edhi lives on in each Pakistani from now onwards…)
Ever since I heard of Abdul Sattar Edhi’s passing away last night, I couldn’t sleep. In the morning, I didn’t feel like getting up and stepping into a world without Edhi in it. – Just watched his ‘namaz-e-janaza’ in National Stadium, Karachi, on television. It was held in front of a huge crowd with General Raheel, Shahbaz Sharif, Governors and whoever, was anyone was there. Specially, there was Faisal Edhi, son of the great man.
Every person was sad, everyone had such deep respect and regard for Edhi.
Why does every Pakistani respect him? Because they know, like Quaid-e-Azam, he was sincere and true. (I can’t believe I’m using ‘was’ for him!) If he said something, he meant it. He didn’t care about anything other than humanity itself. He never bothered about what others would think about him. He genuinely didn’t care. All he cared about was to reduce and remove pain from the hearts of those persons who are poor and have no one to turn to. – Edhi was there for them.
There was a well-known organization that offered him a huge amount of donation. They asked him to come to be photographed in their office also. When he heard this, he said “I’m not coming, to be photographed.” I don’t need the donation! He would stand on roads and people would themselves come and donate for his Foundation. He believed that Pakistanis are the only ones from whom he would take these donations, and they have given with an open heart. I don’t believe there would be a single Pakistani, who hasn’t donated to Edhi. He had such a name, and so much trust of every citizen of this country.
If an unwanted child was born, Edhi was there for the child, ready to offer the child a home, a name, protection, education… everything a child could want. Bilquis, his wife offered her name as a mother to the un-named, unclaimed child.
The first time I heard about him was in 1985. My husband was in the Kuwait Air Force, and one day a Pakistani came over to our home, telling us about this gentleman from Karachi, who wears clothes which come off the bodies of the dead. He offers a home to the orphans, a place for poor people and even an old people’s home. That he has ambulances, and started out as a tiny dispensary.
Then there was this article in Reader’s Digest about this amazing Pakistani who was nothing short of an angel for the poor and destitute people of Pakistan. It was about how he worked, and how well he managed his Foundation even though he is basically an uneducated person.
Edhi is a name every Pakistani trusts, and donates all they can. On Eid-ul-Azha, the donation for sacrifice of goat, or portion in a cow can happily be given here. Outside, each Edhi center, throughout the lengths and breadth of Pakistan, there is the swing for unwanted infants.
Lately, in Islamabad, the kiosk of Edhi was removed due to CDA rules, so undeterred; they have parked an Edhi van there, so you can give your donation. When you give a donation, you are given a receipt and an envelope, the envelope is for you to post, so that it is going to inform the head office about your donation. (- This will ensure that no one misappropriates your donation).
Whenever a disaster strikes in the city, or abroad, Edhi volunteers are the first to reach. They are the most motivated and fearless. In a city like Karachi, where many people would avoid most the ‘dangerous’ areas, it was the Edhi staff who would be willing to go and help the injured and pick up the dead bodies. To provide a decent burial to the unknown dead bodies found in different places in that huge city.
“As kids, Bhabi, when we got injured while playing, we would run off to the Edhi dispensary. Here, we knew he would be there with his ointment, bandages and medications. We got all these for free. There would be a tin box lying in one corner, where we were to put any donation as ‘payment’. – Most of the times we didn’t give any, and ran away after treatment. Sometimes, we would put in some donation, if we had some pocket money with us.” This was mentioned by someone who later became an Air Force officer.
Edhi’s name and respect grew so much, that once he and his team had gone in a van to inner Sindh and were overtaken by ‘dakus’ or burglers. But when they recognized who he was, they took out whatever cash they had, and gave it to Edhi as their donation to his Foundation!
It was in 1997 when I visited the Edhi orphanage in Karachi, in Clifton, with over 300 orphans and about 25 special children in it. I was thinking I should take my children there so they know, how orphans live, and how privileged they are. How they should appreciate their parents and what they do for them. However, they couldn’t go due to school. After visiting the orphanage, I was glad my children couldn’t go. Otherwise, they would have seen how well the orphans were being taken care of!
The other officer’s wives and I had taken some donations, and I felt very small and humble when I saw the closets full of new clothes donated to them by shops and boutiques for the orphans. There were beautiful bridal dresses for the girls whom they get married, also.
The two orphanage buildings were very majestic homes which were donated to them by two big smugglers, who gave these to Edhi while fleeing the country. Mrs. Edhi was very grateful to these smugglers for providing such a grand home for their orphanage. The ceilings had handicraft work of mirror patterns, and floors were of finest quality green marble. The floors were shining and the entire building was spotlessly clean. The children were well dressed and well behaved. There was the aroma of delicious food being cooked in the huge kitchen.
I asked the smiling and pleasant Bilquis “Has it ever happened, that you didn’t have enough food for a meal?” (After all feeding 300 children three times a day won’t be a joke!) “Never!” she said. “In fact, many times we have donated to other organizations and institutions.” She was speaking in simple Urdu language. One could see the peace and satisfaction on her face. There were no airs or graces about her. She was a very simple and down to earth kind of person with a sense of humor. We were told that she was the only one who accepted Edhi’s proposal of marraige, after he had been refused by over 6-7 nurses! She has been devoted to his cause throughout her life. She was by his side right to the end.
Edhi embodies all that is the best in Pakistani people. He brought out the best not only in the philanthropists of Pakistan, but also in the burglars, crooks, mercenaries and thieves of Pakistan. This speaks volumes for the goodness that was in Edhi, and how infectious it was that it brought out the best in all those he met, wherever he went. His amazing skills of management of his organizations, his volunteers and his sincerity were his brand. And that is what everyone trusts.
As I end this blog, the burial of Abdul Sattar Edhi has been completed. I just want to believe that the spirit which was Edhis‘ shall certainly be in heaven very soon. Leaving us mortals with the essence of his being which was the empathy he felt for all humanity. Each Pakistani, I believe has a percentage of this spirit which belonged to him. Because, Edhi couldn’t have achieved anything had it not been for the generosity of so many Pakistanis, in and outside of Pakistan. The greatest beauty of this angel who lived among us all his life, was his love for humanity regardless of color, creed, religion or any bias. He loved all creations of God and Allah. I pray that may he rest in peace, knowing that the people of Pakistan will not forget all that he stood for. That he knows, that we all will carry on helping his son and wife and rest of family in the great cause that he stood for.
May each one of us, be an Edhi in the making.
Our work has begun….