The nation commemorated the services of philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi on his fourth death anniversary on Wednesday.
The renowned humanitarian, who founded the world’s largest volunteer ambulance network, died on July 8, 2016, in Karachi after a prolonged illness.
Edhi, who was born in 1928, migrated to Pakistan in 1947 along with his family and dedicated his life to the poor from the age of 20 — when he himself was suffering through the financial crisis in Karachi.
Post-independence, after his family migrated to and settled in Karachi, the philanthropist purchased a small shop with his meagre savings to open a dispensary with the help of a doctor friend.
What started off as a free dispensary in 1951, went on to become the largest charity organisation in Pakistan.
In his own words, Edhi “begged for donations” at the start of his work and “people gave” openheartedly.
A spiritual journey to serve humanity
Starting from humble beginnings, the world’s renowned social worker was known to stay true to his roots and focus all his energy on his humanitarian work.
In an interview Edhi said he only owned two pairs of clothes which he washed himself, a tradition he had continued for many years. He lived in a small one-room flat located above the office of his charitable organisation.
“He never established a home for his own children,” his wife told news agency AFP in an earlier interview.
Motivated by a spiritual quest for justice, over the years Edhi and his team aimed at helping those in society who cannot help themselves and picking up where limited government-run services fell short.
His work was widely recognised across Pakistan that armed groups and bandits were known to spare his ambulances.
Edhi received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for public service in 1986 and was honoured with the Nishan-e-Imtiaz in 1989.
In 2011, the then-Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani proposed Edhi’s name for the Nobel Peace Prize. He appeared on the Nobel list again later after being nominated by young Pakistani Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai.
The Edhi Foundation now has a dense ambulance network including air ambulances stationed across the country. In fact, in 1997 the Edhi Foundation entered the Guinness World Records as the “largest volunteer ambulance organisation”.
In recognition for his contributions to serving humanity, search engine Google honoured Pakistan’s “angel of mercy, Abdul Sattar Edhi, on his 89th birth anniversary” on February 27, this year. It changed its logo in the United States, Iceland, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Estonia, UK, Denmark, Ireland, and Pakistan to an illustration of the humanitarian.
Moreover, the Beach Avenue on Seaview in Karachi’s DHA Phase VIII was renamed as Abdul Sattar Avenue in recognition of his legendary services to the humanity, the executive board of DHA announced in July 2016.