Abdul Sattar Edhi, or Maulana Edhi, is a Pakistani philanthropist known for international humanitarian work. He is the founder and head of Edhi Foundation, a non-profit social welfare program in Pakistan. Together with his wife, Bilquis Edhi, he received the 1986 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service. He is also the recipient of the Lenin Peace Prize and the Balzan Prize. In 2006, Institute of Business Administration Pakistan conferred a honoris causa degree of Doctor of Social Service Management for his services. In September 2010, Edhi was also awarded an honorary degree of Doctorate by the University of Bedfordshire.
Founder and Chairman The Edhi Foundation
Born: January 1, 1928
Profession: Social Worker
Affiliation(s): The Edhi Foundation
Edhi was born in 1928 in Bantva in the Gujarat, British India.
When he was eleven, his mother became paralyzed and later grew mentally ill and died when he was 19. His personal experiences caused him to develop a system of services for old, mentally ill and challenged people.
Edhi and his family migrated to Pakistan in 1947. He initially started as a pedlar, later became a commission agent selling cloth in the wholesale market in Karachi. After a few years, he established a free dispensary with the help from his community. He later established a welfare trust, “Edhi Trust”.
Abdul Sattar Edhi was married in 1965 to Bilquis, a nurse who worked at the Edhi dispensary. The couple have four children, two daughters and two sons. Bilquis runs the free maternity home at the headquarter in Karachi and organizes the adoption of illegitimate and abandoned babies.
Edhi Foundation runs the world’s largest ambulance service and operates free old people’s homes, orphanages, clinics, women’s shelters, and rehab centers for drug addicts and mentally ill individuals. It has run relief operations in Africa, Middle East, the Caucasus region, eastern Europe and US where it provided aid following the New Orleans hurricane of 2005.
In November 2011, Edhi was recommended for a Nobel Peace prize by the Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani.
Edhi’s mother died when he was 19. His personal experience made him think of thousands and millions, suffering like his mother, around with nobody to look after them. He thought that he had a call to help these people.
He had a vision of chains of welfare centers and hospitals that could be opened to alleviate the pain of those suffering from illness and neglect. He also thought of the in-human treatment meted out to the mentally ill, the insane and the disabled persons. Even at this early age, he felt personally responsible for taking on the challenge of developing a system of services to reduce human miseries. The task was huge; he had no resources. But it was something that he had to do even if he had to walk to the streets with a cap in hand to beg for this purpose.
Migrated to Pakistan
Edhi and his family migrated to Pakistan in 1947. In order to earn his living, Abdul Sattar Edhi initially started as a pedlar, later became a commission agent selling cloth in the wholesale market in Karachi. After a couple of years, he left this occupation and with the support of some members of his community decided to establish a free dispensary. He became involved in this charity work.
However, soon his personal vision of a growing and developing system of multifarious services made him decide to establish a welfare trust of his own and named it “Edhi Trust”. An appeal was made to the public for funds. The response was good, and Rs. 200,000 were raised. The range and scope of work of Edhi Trust expanded with remarkable speed under the driving spirit of the man behind it. A maternity home was established and emergency ambulance service was started. More donations were received as people’s confidence in the activities of the trust grew. With the passage of time, masses gave him the title of the “Angel of mercy”.
Abdul Sattat Edhi was married in 1965 to Bilquis, a nurse who worked at the Edhi dispensary. The couple have four children, two daughters and two sons. Bilquis runs the free maternity home at the headquarter in Karachi and organizes the adoption of illegitimate and abandoned babies. The husband-wife team has come to share the common vision of single minded devotion to the cause of alleviation of human sufferings and a sense of personal responsibility to respond to each call for help, regardless of race, creed or status.
The Edhi Foundation
Edhi established the Edhi Foundation with public donations he received after this immunization initiative.The foundation has developed into an organization of ambulances, clinics, maternity homes, mental-health institutions, homes for the physically handicapped, blood banks, orphanages, adoption centers, mortuaries, shelters for runaway children and battered women, schools, nursing courses, soup kitchens and a 25-bed cancer hospital. It is now the largest social welfare network in Pakistan, has offices in several countries and has undertaken relief operations in Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus region, eastern Europe and the US, where it helped provide aid following the New Orleans hurricane of 2005.
Honors and awards
– Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service (1986)
– Lenin Peace Prize (1988)
– Paul Harris Fellow from Rotatory International Foundation, (1993)
– Largest Voluntary Ambulance Organization of the World – Guinness Book of World Records (2000)
– Hamdan Award for volunteers in Humanitarian Medical Services (2000) UAE
– International Balzan Prize (2000) for Humanity, Peace and Brotherhood, Italy
– Honorary Doctorate degree from the Institute of Business Administration Karachi (2006).
– UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize (2009)
– Ahmadiyya Muslim Peace Prize (2010)
– Silver Jubilee Shield by College of Physicians and Surgeons, Pakistan, (1962–1987)
– The Social Worker of Sub-Continent by Government of Sind, Pakistan, (1989)
– Nishan-e-Imtiaz, civil decoration from Government of Pakistan (1989)
– Recognition of meritorious services to oppressed humanity during eighties by Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Government of Pakistan, (1989)
– Pakistan Civic Award from the Pakistan Civic Society (1992)
– Shield of Honor by Pakistan Army (E & C)
– Khidmat Award by Pakistan Academy of Medical Sciences
– Human Rights Award by Pakistan Human Rights Society