A touch of inspiration runs both ways as Sean Penn visits shrine and Edhi home

Published: March 25, 2012
Academy Award winner Sean Penn met with iconic humanitarian worker Abdul Sattar Edhi and his wife, Bilquis Edhi (pictured below), at their home for children on Saturday. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS

Academy Award winner Sean Penn met with iconic humanitarian worker Abdul Sattar Edhi and his wife, Bilquis Edhi (pictured below), at their home for children on Saturday. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS

Academy Award winner Sean Penn met with iconic humanitarian worker Abdul Sattar Edhi and his wife, Bilquis Edhi (pictured below), at their home for children on Saturday. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS Academy Award winner Sean Penn met with iconic humanitarian worker Abdul Sattar Edhi and his wife, Bilquis Edhi (pictured below), at their home for children on Saturday. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS

In a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers, the rather unassuming actor Sean Penn stepped out of his car to meet Pakistan’s iconic humanitarian worker  Abdul Sattar Edhi and his wife, Bilquis Edhi, at their home for children on Saturday morning.

While the Academy Award-winning star of Dead Man Walking is instantly recognisable to film buffs, the Edhis were unaware of who their visitor was.

Penn, who was accompanied by US Consul General William J Martin and a slew of consular staff, told Edhi that it was a “great honour” to meet him. “Your name is brought up with reverential appreciation,” Penn said. In return, the Edhis were told about Penn’s philanthropic efforts to help the survivors of the earthquake in Haiti in 2010.

Penn toured the Bilquis Edhi Female Child Home in Clifton, dipping into classrooms where Montessori students sang the nursery rhyme ‘Are you Sleeping, Brother John?’ eliciting smiles from him and Martin. The school at the home has 250 students and offers classes till Matric or tenth grade.

“What are they working on?” he asked Ali Edhi, who was showing him around the eighth graders in the computer lab. “Word, PowerPoint, Excel,” a teacher responded. Penn was also told about the number of Edhi centres nationwide and how the organisation is open for ‘everyone – regardless of faith, class, identity.’

As the aroma of food being prepared for lunch wafted in from the kitchen, Penn stepped into a separate room to chat with the Edhis. Bilquis later told the media that Penn said he had wanted to meet them, and there had been no talk of donations or offers of help. “We get enough from Pakistanis, we do not take money from abroad,” Bilquis said. She said Penn had told them that he was happy to be there and that Pakistan was not as bad as people had made it out to be.

Consul General Martin explained: “On the Pakistan Day weekend, we brought Penn to meet Edhi, a great Pakistani who can inspire us all with his big heart and generosity.”

Penn’s first visit to Pakistan included travel to Badin and Karachi and he was expected to leave on Saturday. Before arriving at the Edhi centre, he also visited the nearby Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine where he paid his respects.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 25th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (58)

  • Talha
    Mar 25, 2012 - 3:40AM

    Class act.


  • Singh
    Mar 25, 2012 - 3:50AM

    Pakistan need Abdul Sattar Edhi in every nook & corner of its landmass to build beautiful & peaceful country not hafij syed or kind.


  • Syed
    Mar 25, 2012 - 4:00AM

    So glad to see an activist and actor Sean Penn visiting the right places and meeting the right people.Sean – you don’t need those embassy folks and body guards. Long before you Eva Gardner and Michael Douglas have visited this country. You stand out as someone who has spoken the bitter truth to US media and people. Hope that you continue to do so.


  • American Desi
    Mar 25, 2012 - 4:13AM

    Very true – Edhi is a great Pakistani who can inspire us all with his big heart and generosity!


  • usmanx
    Mar 25, 2012 - 6:12AM

    How does Edhi Sahib not have a Nobel Peace Prize?


  • American Pakistani
    Mar 25, 2012 - 6:22AM

    “She said Penn had told them that he was happy to be there and that Pakistan was not as bad as people had made it out to be.”

    I don’t think we need a certificate from anyone to tell us how good or bad we are. I would urge my fellow countrymen to stop asking this question to Indians, Americans or other foreigners. Work for solving our own problems, and don’t look for validation from anyone unless that person is the onus of perfection (which obviously doesn’t exist). Whatever we are and “going to be” is our concern, our effort and not anyone elses.


  • Zeta
    Mar 25, 2012 - 6:46AM

    My respects for Sean Penn has increase ten folds. Great Human


  • Billoo Bhaya
    Mar 25, 2012 - 6:51AM

    Hats off to Sean Penn for calling on Bilquis and Abdul Sattar Edhi. Its the content of their character that brought Sean Penn to their home and his fantastic statement: “Your name is brought up with reverential appreciation.” Edhi deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for his work. Thank you Sean Penn for recognizing the Edhis.


  • Thank U
    Mar 25, 2012 - 6:57AM

    Thank you for visiting and honoring Mr. and Mrs. Edhi – they are the pride of Pakistan and full of humanity. Pakistan appreciates Mr. Penn’s kind visit, it was so gracious of you to do so and be understanding Mr. Sean Penn.


  • Give Sean a pen
    Mar 25, 2012 - 7:21AM

    Sean, Bravo……………………………………….


  • Taji
    Mar 25, 2012 - 7:32AM

    Sean Penn, you are my hero.


  • Humanity
    Mar 25, 2012 - 7:52AM

    Meeting of beautiful souls ..


  • Welcome
    Mar 25, 2012 - 8:06AM

    Sean Penn, Pakistan appreciates and welcomes you! You are not only talented but intelligent and brave too! Thanks for paying your respects to the honorable Mr. and Mrs Edhi.


  • Amna
    Mar 25, 2012 - 8:26AM

    Sean Penn!!!
    I just fell in love with him, after reading all that he did. Such a down to earth individual, we could learn a lot, and I mean “a lot” from what he just did. Pakistani’s open up your eyes, whether you’re currently residing in Pakistan, or overseas, learn from this. The day we succeed isn’t so far. Appreciation, care, love and affection is what Pakistani needs, especially from its own people.!!


  • hina
    Mar 25, 2012 - 8:39AM

    I would really respect Sean Penn if his lobbies for Edhi to win the Nobel Peace Prize.


  • fairhope1
    Mar 25, 2012 - 8:55AM

    I am sure Edhi Sahib will not be much interested in Nobel Peace award anyways, not any of this media coverage. He has got more than any of the Pakistani wants; this gentleman has won our hearts and brought a praise to Pakistan.

    As for Sean Penn, this guy has left the comfort of his mansion in LA and spends nights in earthquake ridden Haiti and getting bitten by mosquitoes the size of elephant. A fine class actor from Carlitos Way to 21 Grams to Mystic River. Hats off to you too.


  • M. A. Changezi
    Mar 25, 2012 - 9:21AM

    Edhi is a living example that we can live in peace and harmony. Proud of you sir Edhi.
    Why is he not knighted by the queen of England? She didn’t waste time to give knigthood to Salman Rushdi. Gosh the iriony.


  • Wisk
    Mar 25, 2012 - 9:28AM

    Wonderful job !!Recommend

  • Zeta
    Mar 25, 2012 - 9:32AM

    @American Pakistani:
    Excellent Post


  • Mar 25, 2012 - 9:33AM

    love u both


  • Nadeem
    Mar 25, 2012 - 9:34AM

    Thank you Mr Penn


  • Basit
    Mar 25, 2012 - 9:46AM

    “We get enough from Pakistanis, we do not take money from abroad,” Bilquis said.

    nNw why can’t our ruling liberal elite cabal learn this basic fact and stop begging from everywhere?


  • siddh
    Mar 25, 2012 - 9:59AM

    Great support Mr. Penn


  • shahnazhumayun
    Mar 25, 2012 - 10:09AM

    Because Adhi jee is a muslim ………..


  • am
    Mar 25, 2012 - 10:11AM

    we know edhi is a saint but funny thing is that it should be governments job what edhi is doing and more shameful that our corrupt leaders prays him (which he deserves million %) when they should be doing this job our corrupt leaders are taking advantage of people like edhi so they do not need to this work as ngo can do it- shame on our corrupt leaders


  • khalid
    Mar 25, 2012 - 10:16AM

    Deep respect for sean penn. Great man


  • Talha
    Mar 25, 2012 - 11:07AM

    @usmanx: How can you think of it. They are not yet done with giving to likes of Obama!!!! Edhi has not done as much as Obama has done!


  • A Peshawary
    Mar 25, 2012 - 11:35AM

    The US Embassy should arrange more visits like this, particullary of politicians and media personalities form US to see and then tell the US public of the true face of Pakistan.

    A Peshawary


  • DevilHunterX
    Mar 25, 2012 - 11:52AM

    They gave Obama a Nobel peace prize but not Abdul Sattar Edhi. What a joke.


  • Ras
    Mar 25, 2012 - 11:53AM

    Sean Penn is a good guy but he was in the presence of two GREAT people!


  • A.Ansari
    Mar 25, 2012 - 12:18PM

    Edhi is a Beacon of Light in the Darkness and difficult time we are going through.I am glad his services and selfless contributions are acknowledged by people like Sean Penn.


  • Pollack
    Mar 25, 2012 - 12:33PM

    Edhi is one person Pakistan can truly and unashamedly be proud of. If every Pakistani has at least ten percent of goodness of this man, then the “land of the pure” thing would have been appropriate and fitting title for Pakistan. Unfortunately that’s not the case in reality. For every Edhi, there seem to be a million Hafiz Saeeds.


  • Mar 25, 2012 - 12:41PM

    maa shaa Allah. We really need more people like abdus sattar edhi. He is one of those people who i can happily say is from pakistan. Although, i dislike visiting shrines but the fact that people from america come especially to visit edhi sahab simply speaks miles about his great work. Barak Allah u feek. May Allah grant edhi sahab and all his loved ones a place in jannat-ul-firdows, ameen ya rab. :)


  • Zeta
    Mar 25, 2012 - 12:45PM

    Well I believe you got it wrong or biased to see more. Pakistan is the most charitable nation on earth. we give zakat and sadqa regularly. Many hospitals as big as Shaukat Khanum run entirely on Charities donated by Pakistanis and in case of Shaukat Khanum, foreigners too

    Few bad apples (in your book) shouldn’t pollute the rest of nation.


  • Omer
    Mar 25, 2012 - 12:47PM

    The best part….

    “We get enough from Pakistanis, we do not take money from abroad,”


  • Hadi Ansari
    Mar 25, 2012 - 2:08PM

    Edhis have been involved in charity work for over five decades.They are more trustworthy than most politicians.Mrs Edhis statement that we get enough from Pakistanis and don’t ask for anything from abroad indicates their patriotism and esteem and confirms our belief that if every Pakistani contributes his share of dues Pakistan as country will become role model for other countries.
    Sadly her statement will fall on deaf ear of the rulers.If they also commit not to borrow from overseas and make best use of the available resources and plan to enhance these resources ensuring that benefit filter downs to grass root ,most of the countrys problems will disappear.
    Keep up the good work EDHIS.


  • Sara
    Mar 25, 2012 - 3:31PM

    Oh wow! This certainly was out of the blue! Thank you Sean Penn for coming to Pakistan and meeting the most selfless couple on this planet, The Edhis! :) They certainly are doing the most amazing work ever, and no one deserves the Nobel Peace Prize more than Mr Edhi himself!


  • THE
    Mar 25, 2012 - 4:18PM

    @Pollack: Your comment reflects ignorance for Pakistan and it’s people! There are very very few people in Pakistan who even know who Hafiz Saeed is but I think people in your country have him on their minds alot, that’s why I see him being mentioned in alot of Indian comments. Thank you for your hate for Pakistanis, it leaves us with no illusions about your intentions and attitude towards us.


  • G. Din
    Mar 25, 2012 - 4:31PM

    @American Pakistani:
    “Whatever we are and “going to be” is our concern, our effort and not anyone elses.”
    That would be true if Pakistan was an island, far from civilization. That is not so. What you are, how you behave, what your propensities are, are very much a concern of your neighours’ and of the world at large. If you have good sense, you will recognize that and condition your behaviour accordingly. Else, you will always remain in an unholy mess! We can deal with that mess, too! That is what Mr. Edhi is helping us with.
    *“We get enough from Pakistanis, we do not take money from abroad,” *
    The sterling definition of “ghairat” and “khudi”, terms which the rest of his compatriots only mouth off!Recommend

  • Zehra
    Mar 25, 2012 - 5:10PM

    wow what a lucky day for Mr Penn :)


  • Asad
    Mar 25, 2012 - 5:36PM

    It’s an honour for Sean Penn to have met with Edhi


  • Mar 25, 2012 - 8:12PM


    You used the word “MATRIC, which does not exist in standard English Dictionaries.


  • R.Khan
    Mar 25, 2012 - 8:32PM

    Sean Penn is a true humanitarian, who is widely respected for his activities. God bless you Sean Penn & we love & salute you!


  • Pollack
    Mar 25, 2012 - 9:43PM

    @THE: ”
    There are very very few people in Pakistan who even know who Hafiz Saeed is”

    That’s not true and you know it. It’s equivalent to saying that very very few people in Pakistan even know what lashkar-e-Tobias or JUD is. You should face reality to solve problems. You should not be scared by it and build your own reality. And fanaticism is an ugly thing which leads people to delusions and should be cleansed from your system if you ever want to see reality.


  • Pollack
    Mar 25, 2012 - 9:46PM

    @DevilHunterX: correct. Nobel peace prize to Obama was a purely political thing. Edhi richly deserves this prize. But someone has to put his name forward for that.


  • Pollack
    Mar 25, 2012 - 9:52PM

    @Zeta: societies can do some good and and lots of evil. A society doing some good does not justify it doing lots of evil. For example, let’s take the invasion of Iraq by US. It definitely did some good by removing a evil dictator from power but it also did a lot of evil. Will the good done in Iraq justify the evil done in Iraq? You should try to think rationally and logically. Hot headed emotions and bigotry will make your mind dull. Thinking rationally requires a lot of effort. It’s not natural. It’s a learnt skill. It even requires practice.


  • Zobariz
    Mar 25, 2012 - 10:11PM

    Always loved Sean Penn….both for his film work, and his charitable work. Respect him even more after seeking out the truth about the most-wronged country in the world, for himself.


  • as
    Mar 25, 2012 - 11:54PM

    not a thousand nobel peace prizes are worth the sum of what this man has done for this county’s people


  • THE
    Mar 26, 2012 - 1:27AM

    Edhi is a great humanitarian and the one thing that I have always liked about him over the years is that he hasn’t allowed anyone to influence his work by giving “aid money”. I think that’s one of the main reasons that he hasn’t gone into politics or hasn’t been influenced by an outside power or political party in Pakistan. I have seen articles on Edhi’s work from around the globe, really don’t think that a noble peace prize would add anything to the work his organization is doing. I wish him the best of health, a long life and hope that more people get inspired by his work.


  • THE
    Mar 26, 2012 - 1:30AM

    @Pollack: You really have no idea about what you are talking about, do you? You think people in Pakistan sit all day thinking about these groups? or we care about what you think about us from where you sit or for that matter of anyone else who has their own narrow agenda? Please try to get a life beyond the hate and fear mongering. What have you done to clean fanaticism from your system? Don’t make me tell you how people live in your country, try to solve your own problems before coming on here to talk about ours. Anyways, I really don’t want to go on and on with you since that’s exactly what you want us to do, you want to get people off the topic and get them into your narrow minded agendas!


  • Saad Raees
    Mar 26, 2012 - 3:16AM

    I don’t think we should be campaigning for Sir Edhi’s Nobel Peace Prize! To award him something that would make him stand in the same line as that of Obama would be an insult for him and not an honour!!


  • reeb
    Mar 26, 2012 - 4:41AM

    I remember a black dude in a very powerful position winning the Nobel Peace Prize, that dude has so far been responsible for continuing two wars, waging 3 more and the deaths of millions of people, i’m talking about the President of the United States of America Barrack Obama.

    No I dont want Edhi Sahab to win a nobel prize, i’m disappointed that he got nominated, he does not need recognition from anyone in the world leave alone the friends and serve nobel council, Edhi Sahab only seeks recognition from God and no one else, he doesn’t need a stamp of approval for the work he has done.

    He’s a Legend in Pakistan and a role model for the Muslim Ummah, Long Live Edhi.


  • Zeta
    Mar 26, 2012 - 11:19AM

    Evil Exists but not like you indians like to exaggerate Give me a nation where it doesn’t. Just look at you own hindutva saffron brigade and RSS.
    Should we now follow your way and believe that 99% Indians are RSS terrorists

    TBH, the guys you are talking about are hardly matters here, few twisted minds may follow them up but not like you indians perceive that 99% blind followers of them.


  • Mar 26, 2012 - 8:08PM


    “our corrupt leaders are taking advantage of people like edhi ,”

    Attempts have been made to coerce Sattar Edhi, by some individuals in the past, to work for their own agendas. But this independent soul has refused to be a pawn.

    Threats to Edhi


  • Mirza
    Mar 27, 2012 - 10:53AM

    Two great humans meeting each other. Must be a wonderful sight and great news. Thanks for all the great work for humanity. We need more people like them in the world. Peace!


  • yellowdragon
    Mar 30, 2012 - 8:53AM

    The Edhis should have a Nobel Peace Prize


  • tariq
    Mar 30, 2012 - 11:34AM

    a great Human , a great Fighter, thats called MUJHAHID in its own way , A True Muslim N A True Pakistani


  • IZ
    Mar 31, 2012 - 5:59PM

    To the editors: So I’m curious. Just how does “a touch of inspiration run both ways”? Nothing in the article suggests it does. Are you picking headlines out of a hat now?


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