“Put me down as Shahzad Edhi,” says the 25-year-old, who works at the Edhi Foundation in Karachi. Shahzad was left in a cot outside a shelter by his biological parents when he was six months old, perhaps because he was differently-abled. It was then that philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi took him under his wing and bought him up as a part of his family, along with his grandsons Saad and Ahmed. Edhi’s daughter Kobra looked after Shahzad, who has now moved on to following in Edhi’s footsteps.
Shahzad lives the life of an average 25 year old. He loves chicken fajita pizza and listens to remixes of Indian rapper Yo Yo Honey Singh. Unlike other abandoned children, Shahzad has been fortunate. He was enrolled at Okahi Memon School by his namesake, Edhi’s brother Shahzad. But the bullying he faced for being different soon became too much for him and Shahzad decided to drop out in the seventh grade. “I told my father I did not want to study anymore. They (the students) would laugh when I would read and write,” he says.
Soon after, he was taught how to use a computer and started working for the Edhi Foundation, where he still works, drafting and writing documents. Shahzad also received first-aid training and accompanies emergency squads to help whenever needed. An example of his bravery can be found in his resolve to help victims of the Nishtar Park bombing in Karachi in 2006. Scores had died in the attack that day and Shahzad rushed to help many who had been injured.
“I’ve never felt like anything is missing. The Edhis have always made me feel part of the family. Sir Edhi has never let me feel the absence of a father figure because he played that role himself,” says Shahzad. He now lives in Sohrab Goth at an Edhi shelter and helps take care of those who, like him, were abandoned by their parents.
Shahzad wakes up at 7:00am everyday and works till 6:00pm. His eyes bear the look of a man content with life. “I want to tell Pakistanis never to lose hope and to keep struggling; we’ll get there. Never show anyone your struggles. Always stand tall and proud. You’ll overcome your worries.”
Zainab Saeed is a student, home tutor and an aspiring journalist.
She tweets @zainabssaeed
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, July 5th, 2015.