Eid at Edhi Home: A different festival for some

As people line up to donate money, police dump unwanted off streets at shelter homes.

Photo Myra Iqbal/maha Mussadaq October 15, 2013
A police official said they are ordered to pick up beggars from city’s streets come Eid but they are out begging the next day. PHOTO: MYRA IQBAL/EXPRESS


Flipping pages of the receipt book to counter check with the rate list, Shah Jehan was busy collecting donations for sacrificial animals a day before Eidul Azha.

Jehan works at an Edhi Home — an orphanage and shelter — and managed to collect around Rs5 million this year, with donations pouring in from the beginning of the month.

“As soon as Eid holidays are announced, we start receiving donations till the very last minute,” he said. Jehan — who has been working at the Edhi Home for more than a decade — said most people choose to sacrifice animals themselves rather than donate for it. Pakistan’s renowned humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi has sent fourteen cows and goats this Eid. The meat will be distributed to various centres and will also be sent to the disaster-affected people of various areas.

As the sun went down, the queue for people giving donations began to increase. Standing in line, Sohail Ahmed, who has been a regular contributor for the past thirty years, said “It’s convenient to donate for a sacrifice as it is assured that it’ll reach the neediest of the needy”.

Romana Shah, a professor, had come to pitch in her share for the earthquake-affected victims in Balochistan. Although her husband has purchased a sacrificial goat this year, she decided to pay her share at the Edhi Home. Shah said the rates at the home are less than the rates offered in the market.

“The price for sharing a sacrifice is not less than Rs12,000 anywhere whereas here they are charging only Rs8,000,” she said, adding that it is also more convenient as finding a butcher on Eid is a mission in itself.

The in-charge of Edhi operations in Aabpara told The Express Tribune that out of 13 centres in the twin cities, around 500 families had donated money for sacrificing animals this year.

As the number of contributors piled up at the home, those who would be receiving charity food began arriving in en masse. A police truck loaded with around two dozen people — handicapped, senior citizens and children among them — entered the premises and made the attendants form a line.

“I have been here several times” said nine-year-old Sobia who was caught begging from the capital’s streets. While some of the people brought by the police were happy to be there, others could not wait to leave. “I am waiting for them to release me so I can go home to my family for Eid” said Saima, who was picked up by the police for begging in Sector F-10.

Rescue 15 Sub-Inspector Mumtaz Ahmed said the idea of picking up beggars and dumping them here was a lost cause. “We pick them up today and tomorrow they will be back on the streets. But on Eid we have special instructions to ensure that they are not lurking on the roads. An official said around 200 people, including children, reside at various Edhi homes in Islamabad.

Places like the Edhi Home are some of the few places that provide shelter to orphans and the homeless. Hassan, an employee at the home, said he is looking forward to celebrate Eid with those that are not as privileged to be spending it at their own homes. “We will celebrate Eid like everyone else. This is our home”.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 16th, 2013.


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