A Living Saint: Abdul Sattar Edhi

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Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

Leonardo Da Vinci

Greatness doesn’t come by big names but with course of lives and the achievements. People love those who love others, selflessly; without setting conditions and agreements. And that is why this man—Abdul Sattar Edhi is widely loved. A potentially Nobel prize recipient; it is unjust that he has been kept neglected despite his selfless, committed and devoted efforts in preaching peace through social welfare services.

An inspiringly charitable soul

To him, self-help is the best way to get on one’s feet. In his teens he started off in humanitarian work, inspired by his mother. He embraced everyone, helped everyone, rich or poor, boy or girl—he’s a living saint who doesn’t like to be called a saint. For more than half of century, Mr Edhi who is now in his 80’s, devoted his life for social welfare—living proof that miseries are alleviated only by self-help. Singly handed, Mr Edhi created one of the largest and most remarkably best organised private social welfare service networks in Asia.

A Pakistani by origin- and arguably the world’s greatest philanthropic, he possesses a deep human psyche and a religious maturity as the level of thought and charity he has portrayed through his work is beyond comparison. Started in 1951 with a tiny dispensary in Karachi, he has managed to built up organizations of ambulances, clinics, maternity homes, mental asylums, homes for the physically handicapped, blood banks, orphanages, adoption centers, rehabilitation of drug addicts, shrouding of unclaimed dead bodies, family planning and counselling services, shelters for runway children and battered women, maternity services, national and international disaster relief efforts. After 9/11, he donated £100,000 to Pakistanis in NY who lost their jobs in the aftermath economic crisis.

Mr Edhi personally delivered medicines, food and clothing to refugees in poor, war torn countries such as Afghanistan, Ethiopia etc. He saved thousands of lives in floods, accidents, civil conflicts and accidents. Edhi services provide around the clock emergency services across the nation and the world regardless of creed, religion, race and region, or language or politics.

An extraordinary success, his million dollar budget comes from private donations from inside and outside the country. He refused to take aid from governments– he’s turned down aid from the Italian government by saying governments set conditions that he cannot accept.

A philosophy of simplicity

Usually, he is dressed in a simple tunic over grey pajama’s scuffed sandals on his feet’s and his trademark Jinnah hat on his head. His philosophy is simplicity, he works for people–on behalf of them he goes on the streets to beg for his growing social programs—for the welfare of people. Even at his age, he usual pleads on streets, for the sake of severely ill individuals in urgent need for expensive medical care that his clinics fail to provide. The donors trust him with their money and regularly donate to Edhi services.

Mr Edhi is a moral bank to every Pakistani—his services are unparalleled. He surpasses everyone who’s considered to be doing humanitarian works—the supreme example of a selfless living being. He credits his mother for being who he is today– banks on his mother’s teaching. He recalls his mother’s memory, giving him two paisa, telling him to spend one and give the other to poor. It was her way to create an awareness of the need for social welfare. His passion for healing back dates back to his childhood when he was obliged to care for his mother alongside, who was paralyzed with a severe diabetic condition. In his autobiography, he recalls ‘taking care of my mother made me ponder the misery of others who suffered, from that time on, I began to think of how I could help them and to dream of building hospitals and a village for handicapped.’

Mr Edhi doesn’t call himself to be living a religious life, but his religion is humanitarian—that’s what he sees and that human rights is his what he abodes.

A widely recognized admired figure—Mr Edhi and his wife still sleep in the same simple room where they began their marriage, close by the tin-topped table where they wash the nameless dead brought in from the streets each night. He remains on call for emergencies 24 hours a day—just as he has been for the past many decades. Available to all; some girls flee to Edhi centers when their families deny them education. Mr Edhi takes them despite the society’s pressure; which he tackles by simply ignoring.

To date, Edhi is a traveled and honoured celebrity exhorting simplicity. He gives up small luxuries, doesn’t like to be called a saint.  He condemns everyone, from politicians to feudal; to Islamic clerics who contaminate the minds of ignorant people by inserting extremist thoughts–devoid the rights of poor peoples—moral and financial corruption that has made the country most trouble, violent and inevitably suffering from the moral crisis. People labelled him mad, crazy and infidel—he continued as his main goal is to respect everyone and to create respect for everyone. He still dreams of building a modern welfare state that gives free access to education, health and vouches for equal rights to common people.

Mr Edhi helps people to make them independent, to stand on their own but rather making them dependent—which so many other social welfare’s are doing in creating dependent liabilities. He spreads the message by undertaking his philosophy by abiding by simplicity, to be of service and value —- it took him decades to do what he dreamt of doing. And to remarkable heights, Mr Edhi achieved massive success and saved millions of lives that owe this great man a deep gratitude.

Image Source: YouTube

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Profile photo of Mahwish Z Chowdhary

A freelance writer and a poet, you can reach her via Twitter: @MahwishZC

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