Pakistan’s greatest humanitarian, philanthropist and social activist, Abdul Sattar Edhi, led a simple life dedicated to helping the needy. Following his death on Friday night, tributes poured in for the man unanimously revered as a national hero. He spent his life in service to the people of his country and his passion for helping mankind inspired thousands to follow his lead.
Having bathed, fed and clothed thousands, his skin was left darkened by the sun, his broad shoulders weakened by the weight of the thousands he carried, but his bearded face never lost the smile. Edhi was indeed a man made of steel with a heart of gold. He belonged to all of us.
As Edhi is laid to rest today in Karachi, we look at 20 inspiring pictures from Edhi’s life.
Edhi is pictured with his first car which he converted into an ambulance. “In my entire life I have driven no other car, except my ambulance which I have driven for 48 years,” said Edhi. Edhi is seen below with some friends in his early days as a social worker.
After the death of his mother, Edhi devoted his life to helping others. He bathed, fed and clothed the poor and continued his work for years to follow.
Edhi would spend day and night traveling the city in his ambulance in search for the sick and needy. When he came across such people, he would pick them up and take them back to the Edhi centre.
Edhi was born in 1928 in a small village in Gujrat, India. His mother suffered from a stroke when he was aged 11 after which she could not function properly. Edhi led an extremely simple life. He was known to have owned only two sets of clothing, which he alternated between when one was dirty.
Abdul Sattar Edhi never took an interest in formal education. He said, “The world’s sorrow is my teacher, a source of wisdom and knowledge.”
On the sixth day after Pakistan was founded, Edhi moved to Pakistan. He set up a business selling match boxes and later became an agent in the wholesale cloth market. At the age of 20, Edhi took help from the Memon community to obtain a water dispensary to facilitate the poor and needy.
A friend of Edhi’s, Haji Ghani Usman, helped him in his mission and donated some money. With the money, Edhi was able to purchase a car, make a water dispensary and establish a hospital equipped with four beds.
Abdul Sattar Edhi used to attend weddings where he would wash dishes, sell milk and distribute newspapers. At the end he said, “Don’t do work for Memons, work for humanity.”
Following the death of his mother, Edhi made tremendous efforts to help the needy and open hospitals. He often said that he would go to any length to help humanity even if he had to beg.
Edhi died at the age of 92 and was suffering from kidney failure. He was undergoing treatment at the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation.
“I ask only from him who gives happily and says nothing to anyone, and that can only be Allah,” reads a poster with a picture of Edhi. This was the first public appeal by Edhi to collect donations of Rs2 million. He said he wanted the money to go to the people.
Here are some more pictures:
A young girl shakes Edhi’s hand as he collects donations on a side street in Karachi. PHOTO: AFP
Edhi looks toward an empty cupboard from which money was stolen during a raid of Edhi’s office in Karachi, 2015.
Edhi is photographed as he sits in his office in Karachi. PHOTO: AFP
Edhi is pictured holding a newborn at one of his centres in Karachi. He regularly took in women, children and men who had no place to go. Edhi never said no to anyone. PHOTO: AFP
Edhi is pictured with Geeta, a mute and deaf Indian girl who strayed into Pakistan more than a decade ago, after which, Edhi took her under his care.