Remembering Edhi — The Guardian Of The Poor
Abdul Sattar Edhi, a known Pakistani philanthropist and the world’s greatest humanitarian, died on this day in 2016, leaving many to grieve.
He started his relief work in 1947 after the partition with a mere $500 at the age of 20. Over the next decades, he helped to save the lives of at least 50,000 babies and created a fleet of 1,800 ambulances, 28 rescue boats and two airplanes to help in emergencies.
Edhi served humanity without discrimination. Once he was asked why he helped non-Muslims, he said: “Because my ambulance is more Muslim than you.” He also famously lamented: “People have become educated … but have yet to become human.”
According to the Edhi Foundation website, “Round the clock he keeps with him an ambulance which he drives himself and makes rounds of the city regularly. On finding a destitute or an injured person anywhere on the way, he escorts him to the Relief Centre where immediate attention is given to the needy person.”
Despite being the head of the largest charity organisation in the country, or maybe South Asia, Edhi remained a down-to-earth person.
In an interview given to a journalist in Lahore in 1991, Edhi said, “I want to request the people not to invite me to social gatherings and inaugural ceremonies. This only wastes my time which is wholly devoted to the well being of our people.”
Edhi was an apolitical person throughout his life, but there were times when he expressed his political inclination in interviews or other talks. He was definitely against religious and sectarian politics and opposed military dictatorships, with a tilt towards socialism as evident from his work.
In an interview with the Express Tribune newspaper, Edhi said: “I don’t care about it. The Nobel Prize doesn’t mean anything to me. I want these people, I want humanity.”