About Edhi Foundation
Edhi Foundation is the single best foundation across Pakistan and one of the best social welfare service providers across the world running on non-commercial, non-political, and non-communal basis, serving round-the-clock without any discrimination of color, class, and creed is enjoying exclusive credentials in the shape of awards and shields conferred upon Mr. Abdul Sattar Edhi and Mrs. Bilquis Edhi by governmental and non-governmental organizations on national and international level for rendering their exemplary services to humanity in multidimensional fields. Edhi Foundation – A Non Profit welfare Organization.
The diversified fields in which Abdul Sattar Edhi played his greatest role for; saving the lives of thousands of newborn babies by placing the cradles outside the Edhi centres, fostering the abandoned babies and children, free nurturing disabled and handicapped people, free caring and feeding women and elderly people who were subjected to torture or neglected by their families, free supporting to ailing patients by providing free medication and medicines through his mobile dispensaries, hospitals, and the diabetic centre at Karachi.
In addition to above, he offered his services in many other areas—like providing land, air, and marine ambulance services during accidents to shift patients to hospitals, national and international relief and aid assistance to the affectees of natural debacles, providing relief aid to refugees in various countries, providing emergency services to the sufferers of drought, fire, and flood, saving the lives of drowned people added with recovering dead bodies from the seas and floods, free rehabilitating the drug addicts, free tracing the missing people, free arranging marriages for the helpless girls and boys, providing free food, clothing, and blankets to needy people.
Besides above, he also served the humanity by offering his services by, providing free technical education to needy people to make them self sufficient through the technical knowledge and skills, providing religious education to the children to make them the best human beings, providing consultancy on family planning and maternity services, providing free blood and plasma to the disadvantaged people, providing free shelter, food, and caring to mentally retarded people, caring by giving shelter and food to orphan and helpless children.
Services to humanity rendered by Abdul Sattar Edhi and his spouse Mrs. Bilquis Edhi never end here, he played his role in some more areas—such as; provided free legal aid to bail out or the prisoners from the prisons, financial and medical support to the prisoners, provided crutches and supporters to the handicapped people, and gave exclusive free bathing and shrouding services to unclaimed dead bodies, so on and so forth. All these services are so much outstanding and exceptional that Edhi Foundation’s role can truly be attributed to an unprecedented example of services to the nation and country of Pakistan as well as humanity, across the globe.
Edhi Foundation – A Non Profit welfare Organization
- Ambulance Service
- Child Adoption Center & Childcare Services
- Edhi Homes & Orphanage Centres
- Educational Service
Edhi Land Ambulance Service was initially started by including a second hand Hillman Pickup Truck and that was refurbished into the first ambulance, thereby coining “Poor Patient Ambulance”. Now sixty years after, the Edhi ambulance has reached to the stage of largest fleet of ambulances in the world, thereby providing with a tantalizing number of ambulances—such as 1800 vehicles, all over their country – Pakistan.
Child Adoption Center & Childcare Services
The history of establishing the Edhi child adoption centre and childcare services dates back to 1949. Mrs. Bilquis Edhi is supervising and looking after the caring and feeding of babies and children. For this purpose, exclusive cradles have been placed outside all Edhi Centres, across the country with a view to keep the abandoned and illegitimate babies in these cradles.
Mostly these abandoned newborn babies are provided to the childless couples, who in accordance with their own policies, after ensuring that they are fully deserved and exactly suitable for this noble cause. Bilquis Edhi, after completely going through the background of the couples, and undertaking a rigorous screening process she decides that the couple or the family is precisely suitable for the baby adoption.
On annual basis, Edhi Foundation is giving over 250 babies or children for adoption. Till to date, over 23,320 babies and children have been provided to the childless couples and families.
Edhi Homes & Orphanage Centres
Edhi Foundation has set-up 18 homes all over Pakistan (seven homes are running at Karachi). As a whole, 8500 younger boys and girls including elder ladies and gents have been accommodated in 18 homes. Among them, are abandoned and orphan boys and girls, mentally retarded and physical disabled, as well as for the shelter-less and helpless male and female people are living in these exclusive Edhi homes. Besides, the tortured women in the aftermath of domestic violence also reside there.
Number of Edhi homes which have been established at different cities of Pakistan are stated here as—Karachi 7, Multan 1, Lahore 3, Islamabad 1, Peshawar 1, Quetta 1, and Chitral 1. The residents in the Edhi homes are numbered at 8500.
Karachi Bilquis Edhi elementary and primary secondary schools are operating at Karachi, in the areas of, Old Sabzi Mandi, Noor Shah Colony Mirphur Khaas and Masjid Road Nawabshah. In these remoter areas of Sindh, the students studying at these Edhi homes are giving basic education.
The students studying at various schools in Sindh Province are listed as under:
A large number of students are currently studying at these centers, whereas classes are held from 1st to Matric class. All their students score over 80 percent marks during the Matric board examinations.
Edhi elementary school was opened in 2002, has classes from Nursery to Class V, and facilitating a large number of students by providing them early education as well as assisting to acquire satisfactory results.
In Mirpur Khaas
Bilquis Edhi Middle School is running in Mirpur Khaas, having over 511 students currently studying there. The school caters the education from nursery to 8th class. This school is registered with Education & Literacy Department, Govt. of Sindh.
→ Aid to Afghan refugees since 1978.
→ Relief to the needy in the civil war in Lebanon during 1983.
→ Rupees 0.5 million for flood relief in Bangladesh during 1986. In addition an ambulance was also provided.
→ Rupees one million in aid to the drought and famine-stricken areas in Ethiopia during 1985.
→ Aid to earthquake victims of Armenia, USSR during year 1989.
→ Aid for the affected people and refugees of Persian Gulf War during 1991 in the form of blood, plasma, medicines and surgical instruments, etc, worth approximately Rs. 4.5 million.
→ Aid to earthquake victims of north-western Iran during 1990.
→ Continuous relief goods including tents, clothing, blankets and rations for refugees in Azad Kashmir.
→ Relief aid to Kurd refugees.
→ Financial and travel assistance to the standard Pakistanis in Kuwait during the Persian Gulf War in 1992.
→ Aid during the earthquake in Cairo 1992.
→ Efforts for the release of prisoners and detainees involved in minor immigration irregularities in Iraq and Romania during 1993-94.
→ Supply of rice and edibles to Mogadishu in Somalia during 1993 in collaboration with the Pakistan army.
→ Relief supplies for Bosnian refugees in Pakistan and supply of relief goods and assistance in Croatian Camps during 1993-94.
→ Relief goods, edibles supplied to Afghan refugees in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, during 1994.
→ Continuous relief operation including provision of transportation facilities to Bosnian refugees during 1993-94.
→ Relief activities conducted in Croatian camps for Bosnian people during 1993-94.
→ Evacuation and relief for plague victims in Saurat (India) during 1994.
→ Provision of blood bags for Japanese earthquake victims during 1994.
→ Edhi International Foundation with its branches in U.S.A., England, Japan, Bangladesh, U.A.E. are engaged in Humanitarian work, supporting especially people belonging to Third World.
Honorary & Voluntary Services
Edhi Foundation is being run entirely with the assistance of staff, who are working on voluntarily basis and serving with the missionary spirit and zeal, for the betterment of society and humanity. Thus, the best example of service that needs to be followed on the precedent set forth by Edhi Foundation. These voluntarily working people comprise on zonal heads, clerical staff at Edhi centres, workers at all Edhi homes and maternity home. With its bigger fleet size – 1,800 ambulances have proved the best source of job opportunity to 1800 drivers either.
Edhi Foundation accepts donation from Rs.5 to above any figure either in hundreds or thousands, or in millions, to extend assistance for the social welfare activities of Edhi Foundation. Edhi Foundation believes in getting donation from the general masses not from the rich people, so all humanitarian based services are run on the funding of general masses. Contribution can also be made in the form of medicines, food, clothing, and animal hides either.
Management and spending of funding for varied social welfare based divisions, is controlled by Edhi with his son Faisal Edhi and daughter Kubra Edhi. Edhi, his son Faisal and daughter Kubra Edhi are personally handling all finance related operations of Edhi Foundation. They are also playing their role to collect the national and international funding. Edhi very much prefers to drive ambulance to shift the patients to the hospitals, get funding, and making surprise visits to check various Edhi centres, across the country – Pakistan and abroad.
- How and Why a Man with Primary School Education
- Made such a legendry service to humanity
History reveals that at exclusive occasions, the circumstances of any nation become so critical and crucial that those enormous issues prove greatly hazardous and perilous, by bringing misery and gloom as well as pain and suffering into their lives, that engender ignorance, crime, and lawlessness in the society.
At such grave and severest times, by the will of Almighty Allah, a personality with the determination like mountain in front of storms of difficulties, with perseverance like a rock in the ocean of threats, and having vision and wisdom to assist less-privileged people, reaches at the stage, and starts to drive out the darkness by providing the light of education, trying to decrease the poverty by fostering and feeding the needy, extending his blessing hands to the neglected, deprived, and depressed segments of the society, and providing every type of assistance to make such needy people happy – this example absolutely fitting on the personality of legendry social service provider – Abdul Sattar Edhi.
Emergence of a Nation-wide Network
- Sattar Edhi has spent over 45 years of his life in the service of humanity. He as established, more or less single handedly, a national welfare network, the Edhi Foundation (EF), which operates from a small headquarter, in a poor locality of Karachi.
The simplicity of central office is amazing in view of the wide range of the nation-wide services co-ordinated by Edhi personally with the help of telephones and a handful of assistants. It is, therefore, not easy to manage the strange mixture of complexity of operations and use of administrative communication channels with the limited staff. This has inevitably resulted in the centralisation of policy decisions.
However, with the general spread of the services to all parts of the country and an increasing awareness of the public, the way has been paved for greater involvement of communities in the management of welfare services. Edhi displays a remarkable stamina and energy at the advanced age of seventy to keep himself informed about all activities of the Foundation in all parts of Pakistan. He travels in Pakistan and abroad extensively for this purpose and conveys a feeling of being there, when needed.
Every society is destined to face the problems of looking after the welfare of the sick, the weak, the destitute and the needy. All societies are alike in this respect. One way of assessing the status of a society on the road to civilization is the value accorded to an individual and his basic human needs. These have not always received the attention they deserve in the planning of economics, particularly in developing countries. Most of the available resources are consumed by defense needs and pressing demands for technological progress.
Programs for development in the social sector remain a long way behind, mainly because of financial constraints. Special efforts are, therefore, needed to mobilize community resources to initiate and develop programs for the welfare of the weak and the disadvantaged members of society.
Abdul Sattar Edhi’s social welfare services are spanned over his entire life by offering exclusive sacrifices in many areas—like personal and social life as well as his personal business, and so on. He is serving the humanity selflessly and dedicatedly without expecting for any monetary benefit or financial gain. He has buried over 200,000 unclaimed dead bodies.
His exclusive services to the mankind, with exclusive reference to shrouding and then burying unclaimed and abandoned dead-bodies, at a time, when there is no value of any human being, as extremists of the modern times are cutting the healthy and live human beings into pieces like onions and tomatoes, at such time, Edhi’s role for the humanity – is truly unparalleled and unmatched, and very least possibilities of tracing this sort of best services for the humanity, across the world.
This is something indicating towards a reality that there is no place of goodwill, love and affection, brotherhood and amity, feelings of friendliness yet by serving to the humanity, Edhi has given a new meaning to the life that everyone should forward to give goodwill, love and affection, brotherhood and affection, and feelings of friendliness to others – again a matter of pride for Edhi.
The story of services – in the explainer video explained by Edhi can also be listened and to get more updates about the Edhi’s role for the humanity.
Bilquis Bano Edhi
Bilquis Bano Edhi wife of Abdul Sattar Edhi, is a professional nurse and one of the most active philanthropists in Pakistan. She has been nicknamed, The Mother of Pakistan. She was born in 1947 in Karachi. She heads the Bilquis Edhi Foundation, and with her husband received the 1986 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service. Her charity runs many services in Pakistan including a hospital and emergency service in Karachi. Together with her husband their charity has saved over 16,000 unwanted babies.
It is true, as the saying goes: “There is a woman behind every man”. Bilquis Edhi is a woman of substance, for sure; and she has come a long way with Edhi for a cause that is simply great.
Bilquis Bano Edhi, wife of Abdul Sattar Edhi, is a humanitarian, a social worker and one of the most active philanthropists in Pakistan, holds the honor of being awarded the prestigious ‘Hilal-e-Imtiaz’, and with her husband received the ‘1986 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service’. She is also the recipient of the ‘Lenin Peace Prize’. Her charity runs many services in Pakistan including a hospital and emergency service in Karachi.
Bilquis Edhi – the young lass who was not very good at studies, joined the nurses training course at the Edhi Nurses Training Centre when she was in the 8th grade. Later Abdul Sattar Edhi proposed to her and they got married in April 1966. Since then, she has been working with the Edhi Foundation – A Foundation which was started by Abdul Sattar Edhi with the mission to provide aid to Pakistan’s poor and down-trodden has become Pakistan’s major relief organization under the leadership of the husband and wife – team of Abdul Sattar and Bilquis Edhi. Today, in addition to services provided in Pakistan, Edhi foundation is a major resource for assisting victims of disaster internationally.
Abdul Sattar Edhi’s possessions at the time of his marriage were a broken old car and a small dispensary. There was a maternity home on the first floor with 6-7 beds, a small room – 6’ X 6’ on the ground floor which served as an office and a similar room on the first floor. There wasn’t much else but even in those days when the newly wed couple had very limited resources, people used to leave their kids with them and Bilquis Edhi used to look after them.
Bilquis Edhi vividly remembers her first major experience at Edhi Foundation, when during the war; the bombings resulted in a number of brutally mutilated bodies which she had to wash for burial. At times only an arm, leg or head was recovered. She, along with about 60-70 workers including voluntary workers, collected and then washed these bodies.
Her current responsibilities include looking after the ladies section, giving away children for adoption – mostly looking after women-specific and children related sections throughout Pakistan. Her two daughters also work closely with me. She regularly visits Edhi Homes all over Pakistan to monitor their activities and give suggestions and recommendations on how she feels the work should be done. She is also instrumental in making Edhi Homes ‘Centers of Excellence’ – in the true sense of the word.
With regard to child adoption, she makes sure the criteria are fulfilled to approve / disapprove of couples who want to adopt a child. Couples who want to adopt a child are interviewed by Bilquis Edhi. Her criteria for adoption are that even after 10-12 years of marriage the couple is still childless, prospective father’s salary should be reasonable, prospective father should not have alcohol or drug-related problems, prospective mother’s age should be younger than 50 and the couple should own a house. Her foundation doesn’t give children to couples who keep changing their house – keep moving from one place to another.
Kids who are physically or mentally disabled are cared for by Edhi Foundation. They have a separate section for them where they clean them, feed them, play with them etc. The kids remain with them for the rest of their lives. Aside from the disabled children, the other children who don’t get adopted do not pose any problem, whatsoever. Edhi Foundation has over 4,000 applications in hand. They don’t have enough kids to give to people. So they are careful in selecting prospective parents. They have a ‘shariat-nama’ in place which they make the parents sign where it is explicitly mentioned that in case of separation between the parents, the Centre will reclaim the child or let the child stay with the mother.
Edhi Foundation keeps expanding by adding new welfare services every now and then Bilquis Edhi sees Pakistan’s future as bright, provided if people feel the pain and work for a better future. When she goes abroad with Edhi, they come back with lots of ideas. The couple dreams of the day when welfare facilities in Pakistan would be comparable to those we find abroad. She feels that this seems to be a distant dream. She said: “We don’t even have clean drinking water here.
Load shedding is an ongoing problem. After the recent oil spill [in Karachi] when the oil tanker broke in half, people were saying that their country had gone back 20 years in time. As far as I am concerned in the last 55 years we have not moved forward. We are still where we were 55 years ago.”
Abdul Sattar Edhi and Bilquis Edhi, both think of things for the future. She told us that when Edhi comes up with an idea he writes it down. In 1976, the couple was involved in an accident which took place near a village with no airport or landing strip nearby. Around that time a building collapsed in Karachi – Bismillah Building. At that time Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was in power. Noticing Edhi’s absence from the scene of the disaster he inquired as to his whereabouts upon which he was told of the situation. Bhutto immediately dispatched a small airplane to pick them up.
Edhi was admitted to the Civil Hospital in Karachi where shortly after gaining consciousness; he remarked that he would also like to buy a plane. Bilquis Edhi asked how he will be able to afford a plane as his current situation was such that if he put his hand in the pocket for some loose change, thread used to come out instead. However, Edhi never got disheartened and pulled along with conviction and dedication. By the Grace of Allah, they now have a plane, helicopters everything.
Bilquis Edhi is honored to be the life-partner of a person whose love for humanity is ‘larger than life’. She regards him as a good man – Albeit a little short tempered but good at heart. The couple has still not built their own house yet. Bilquis Edhi fondly remembered her first 4-5 years after marriage when she used to live on the roof. Later, after the birth of her four kids, she moved to her mother’s house. Her mother looked after the kids.
On a daily basis she used to shuffle between her house and the Edhi Centre. After the kids grew up and got married, Bilquis Edhi’s mother passed away. The couple spends their days and nights at the Edhi Centre. In their 36-37 years of married life, there may have been at least 36 occasions when they never even came home at night. Even now when their children want to see him, they bring lunch from their home and come and eat with them.
They seldom take time out from their work but they have spent some good time together on the job. In the last 34-35 years there have been many occasions when they had to drop off patients and deceased people to far off villages. After dropping them off, on the way back they used to stop over in villages and rural areas where they have been treated with lassi, chicken in gravy among other delicacies and looked after extremely well by the people of those areas.
They also sat on charpoys with their feet in the water – fresh cold water streams abound in these areas. They have had some good times together. On these trips they used to feel like they were extremely rich people with cars of their own. Others who lived in those areas didn’t have any cars so they used to request them to take them along whenever they went on such trips.
Faisal, Kubra, Zeenat and Almas – the Edhis have an educated progeny, bright young people. After Bilquis and Abdul Sattar, they will look after the Edhi Foundation and carry the torch forward.
Bilquis Edhi has spent her life for a noble cause and she continues to do so. She is lucky as a human-being and even luckier as a woman for she got a helping hand in the form of her husband. Abdul Sattar and Bilquis complement each other – in the very true sense of the word.
Abdul Sattar Edhi was born in 1928 in a small village of Bantva near Joona Garh, Gujrat (India). The seeds of compassion for the suffering humanity were sown in his soul by his mother’s infirmity. When Edhi was at the tender age of eleven, his mother became paralysed and later got mentally ill. Young Abdul Sattar devoted himself for looking after all her needs; cleaning, bathing, changing clothes and feeding.
This proved to be a loosing battle against the disease, and her helplessness increased over the years. Her persistent woeful condition left a lasting impression on young Edhi. The course of his life took a different turn from other persons of his age. His studies were also seriously affected and he could not complete his high school level. For him the world of suffering became his tutor and source of wisdom.
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 centres 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 some thing that he had to do even if he had to walk to the streets if he had to beg for this purpose.
Edhi and his family migrated to Pakistan in 1947. In order to earn his living, Abdul Sattar Edhi initially started as a peddler, 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 as “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 in the sprawling metropolis of Karachi with a population of over 10 million.
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 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 organises 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.
Edhi involves himself in every activity at Edhi Foundation from raising funds to bathing corpses. Round the clock he keeps with him an ambulance which he drives himself and makes rounds of the city regularly. On finding a destitute or an injured person any where on the way, he escorts him to the Relief Centre where immediate attention is given to the needy person. Inspite of his busy work schedule with the Foundation, Edhi finds enough time to spare with the residents of the orphanages called “Edhi Homes”. He is very found of playing and laughing with the children. A short strongly built man in his early seventies with a flowing beard and a ready smile, Edhi is popularly called “Nana” (Grandfather) by the residents of “Edhi Homes”.
Despite his enormous fame and the vast sums of money that passes through his hands, Edhi adheres to a very simple and modest life style. He and his family live in a two room apartment adjacent to the premises of Foundation’s headquarter. Neither Edhi nor Bilquis receives any salary. They live on the income from government securities that Edhi bought many years ago to take care of their personal needs for the rest of their lives, thereby freeing them to devote single mindedly to their missionary work.
He shuns publicity for the fear of becoming haughty. As the credibility and fame grew and the name of Edhi became a house-hold word, people started approaching him for becoming chief guest on special occasions.
In an interview given to a journalist in Lahore in 1991, Edhi said,”I want to request the people not to invite me to social gatherings and inaugural ceremonies. This only wastes my time which is wholly devoted to the well being of their people.”
Although Edhi has a traditional Islamic background, he has an open and progressive mind on a number of sensitive social issues. He strongly supports the notion of working women. Of the 2,000 paid workers of the Edhi Foundation around 500 are women. They work in various capacities in-charges of Edhi centres, heads of maternity homes and dispensaries and office workers. More-over, several women volunteers help Edhi Foundation in fund raising. Edhi encourages women to do all sorts of work without differentiation.