When we talk about Pakistan’s most celebrated individuals, one of the first few names that comes to mind will always be that of Abdul Sattar Edhi.
The man needs no introduction. He started the Edhi foundation in 1951, and since its inception, the foundation has rescued over 20,000 abandoned infants, trained over 40,000 nurses and rehabilitated over 50,000 orphans along with running 330 welfare centers in rural and urban Pakistan. In the case of a horrific natural disaster, Edhi was always on the forefront of rescue efforts and the country counted on him more than they would on the government or its elected individuals.
The Edhi foundation is credited with the world’s largest volunteer ambulance service. Spreading his influence to the rest of the world, the Edhi foundation has been present during relief operations in Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and even the United States during Hurricane Katrina.
As BBC perfectly described him as “Pakistan’s most respected figure and was seen by some as almost a saint”.
The humblest of men in every sense of the word, Edhi led an extremely simple life. He spent all his time with orphans he was helping and the patients whose rehabilitation he was over-looking. On July 8, 2016, Edhi breathed his last. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while extending condolences said: "We have lost a great servant of humanity. He was the real manifestation of love for those who were socially vulnerable, impoverished, helpless and poor.”
Edhi also became the only Pakistani without state authority or a state role to be given a state funeral. The man went through a lot of hardships during his life, being arrested at international airports for his beard and clothes, losing his grandson, being shunned by society early on, however, the greatest hardship he faces is now; albeit almost a year after his passing.
People saw the foundation and the man as one in the same, and since his passing, most donors have a lack in trust for the organisation. The Edhi foundation has thousands of people dependent on it for food, shelter, relief and education. All these people have begun suffering a lack in basic amenities the foundation used to provide because the people of Pakistan have disowned the foundation since Edhi sahib’s death.
Edhi’s son Faisal gave a rallying cry asking for support because some facets of the nation began maligning his father’s name and work ethic, and now is in dire need of assistance from the people that his father very selflessly fought his entire life for.
Abdul Sattar Edhi gave the people of Pakistan hope when they needed it the most, he picked up every child that had been left for dead, every man and every woman who saw themselves at the end of their lives were given a second chance by this man and his foundation. And now that he needs our help, we’ve turned our backs.
This is our time to pay him back. Not because of what he has done for us, but because more than ever, we need to instill in the next generation what it means to be a ‘human’ and show the world that #EdhiLivesOn.