Pakistan will not be the same without Edhi

The humanitarian was a hero who never turned away a man in need.

 |  2-minute read |   11-07-2016
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In 1997, when Mother Teresa left for her heavenly abode, I was deeply saddened, like her many admirers. Sitting in the small town of Shikarpur in Pakistan, we watched we heavy hearts as her funeral procession wound its way through the streets of faraway Kolkata.

I can't still forget the image of small kids and school students gathering to pay her their last respects.

My mother narrated to me the story of the Nobel laureate's life. She had dedicated her life to the service of mankind. Her life was an inspiration; her death left a lump in the throat.

Also read: Terrorists can murder Pakistani singer Amjad Sabri, not his music of peace

Abdul Sattar Edhi, the legendary Pakistani philanthropist, social activist and humanitarian was similarly someone we looked up to. We were shattered when he died last Friday (July 8).

Edhi was born in Gujarat, India, and migrated to Pakistan after Partition. He soon shifted to Karachi where he worked at a wholesale shop.

edhi-embed_071116083428.jpg Abdul Sattar Edhi.

Edhi's mother would give him one paisa for his meals and one more for giving to a beggar. He started his work as a peddler and later became a commission agent selling clothes in Karachi. His mother became paralysed when he was just 11-years-old. Caring for his mother from such a young age, he realised the goal of life - to look after the sick and indigent.

I never was able to meet him in spite of my plans to do so. It is something that I will always regret.

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With terrorists leaving a trail of death and destruction in their wake, it took a person like Edhi to restore smiles on people's lips.

In a society which has forgotten to give food to the hungry and shelter to the homeless, Edhi was a real hero who never turned away a man in need.

"People in Karachi are pretty self-centred," said an acquaintance, "but the doors of Edhi's house would always be open for any one."

What made Edhi stand apart was that he never used his fame for political ends, nor did he ever denounce politicians.

In fact, once, some politicians wanted to use him against Benazir Bhutto, but Edhi turned down their offer and always avoided politics. Unlike some of the other activists, who are always keen to climb on stage to advertise their welfare work, Edhi let his work be its own advertisement.

When Pakistan suffered one of the worst floods in 2010, the government failed to adequately take care of the victims. But Edhi arranged for volunteers and ambulances, rendering exemplary service to the stricken people.

Edhi may have left us forever, but he will always reside in our hearts.

Writer

Veengas Veengas @veengasj

She is a journalist based in Karachi. She has worked on political, human rights and minority issues and works at regional and English newspapers.

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