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The Real Humanitarian

October 26, 2009

edhiWe Pakistanis are fortunate enough to have a person of Abdul Sattar Edhi’s stature among us; who has been constantly involved in the humanitarian efforts over the last so many decades. I had written The Real Humanitarian in 2006 when Muhammad Youns of Grameen Bank had won the Noble Peace Prize. At that moment I thought how come a Nobel Peace Prize committee ignored the struggle and activities of someone like Edhi. Recently, Edhi won the United Nations prize for his efforts. Edhi in my view, deserves Nobel Peace Prize too so let’s make our voices heard.

The Real Humanitarian

In fifty-nine years Pakistan has produced just one Nobel laureate Dr. Abdul Salam. The younger generation of Pakistan knows very little about this prominent scientist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979 for his work in electroweak theory. Unfortunately due to his religious beliefs he didn’t get due recognition from the government in Pakistan.

People often think is there any other Pakistani who could win a Nobel Prize for his genuine efforts in the scientific field, literature or peace? There is certainly one humble personality the more one analyzes his efforts and achievements spanning over five decades the more he seems to be a strong contender for Nobel Peace Prize. Always clad in a simple gray shalwar kameez, black cap and chappal he is none other than the Pakistan’s most loved and respected philanthropist, Abdul Sattar Edhi.

Born in Bantva, a small village of an Indian state of Gujarat to Memon parents, Edhi was taught to be kind and compassionate towards the needy people since his childhood. In 1947 the Edhi family migrated to Karachi. At the age of fifteen Edhi got financially independent as he started off his own small business. Soon after that he got associated with Bantva Memon Dispensary in Karachi. That was the time when he officially started social work. Following some administrative disputes with the other members of Bantva Memon Dispensary, Edhi parted his ways with this organization.

In 1951, he set up his own dispensary at Mithadar that would provide medical assistance and medicines to the poor. Edhi gained popularity among the masses during the 1957 flu epidemic in Karachi. It was during that time that he bought his first ambulance called “Poor Man’s Van”. Later on in 1974 he established the Edhi Foundation. Today Edhi Foundation owns a fleet of almost 600 ambulances, 1 helicopter and 2 aircrafts hence making it the largest volunteer network of ambulances in the whole world.

Edhi Foundation has 3,500 workers and thousands of volunteers who work in over 300 centers all across Pakistan with daily expenditure of 1.2 million rupees. The Foundation runs 8 hospitals in Karachi, including clinics, maternity homes and blood banks. Edhi dispensaries are established all across Pakistan where people get free treatment. There are six nursing schools that provide basic training to the nurses and so far have produced 40,000 qualified nurses. The Foundation’s Apna Ghar, is a home to 50,000 destitute, runaways, orphans and mentally challenged people. Besides that the Foundation has also established shelters for women and Jhoolas for the unwanted infants. His Foundation works day in and day out to make the difference by providing health facilities, food, shelter and basic and vocational education; these are all the duties of a state but instead of looking up to someone he quietly does his work. Edhi Foundation swiftly responds at the time of natural calamity and other crisis. After the earthquake on 8th October 2005 the Edhi Foundation was among the first to reach the affected areas.

Edhi Foundation hasn’t limited its welfare activities to Pakistan only. The Edhi International Foundation has branches in 34 countries including UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, Dubai and Bangladesh. The main task of UK and USA branch is to provide the facilities of temporary residence to the people hailing from the third world countries who come for a treatment to UK or USA. These branches provide assistance to refugees; maintain community centers and work for emergency relief such as after the 9-11 Edhi offered aid and assistance to the New York government and after Hurricane Katrina donated 100,000 dollars to relief efforts. The Foundation also sent relief items and established centers in the countries affected by Asian tsunami of 26th December 2004. Lately Edhi personally visited Lebanon during the Israel-Lebanon war and provided medical assistance and food to the people. Moreover he donated three ambulances to Lebanese government. After witnessing the gruesome scenes of death and destruction in Beirut he requested for immediate cease-fire.

In 1979 Mother Teresa was given the prestigious Nobel Prize for Peace. She, a Catholic Christian of Albanian origin dedicated all her life to the poor people of Calcutta and later on expanded her activities to the other cities of India. By awarding Nobel Peace Prize to Muhammad Yunus this year (2006), the Nobel Committee has certainly broadened its criteria for selection. Edhi has been given many national and international awards and honors in recognition of his services to the humanity such as the “Ramon Magsaysay Award” given to him in 1986 and “Lenin Peace Prize”, awarded in 1988 besides Pakistan’s highest civilian award, Nishan-i-Imtiaz in 1985. In 2000 the Italian government awarded him the ‘International Balzan Prize for Humanity Peace and Brotherhood’. And most recently he won the UN prize for his services in promoting tolerance and non-violence.

The time has come that the Nobel Committee should also consider Abdul Sattar Edhi and his Edhi Foundation for the Nobel Peace Prize. Edhi is one such personality who is selflessly serving the humanity in distress from many decades irrespective of their religion, caste or social status. His achievements speak volumes about his credibility. He is a simple man with no political affiliations and with a vision to bring peace into the lives of suffering humanity.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. zain permalink
    October 26, 2009 7:56 pm

    totally agreed…he the man that deserve noble prize…..but wht is the great prize for him is the respect and trust that people show by fuding him

    • October 28, 2009 2:45 pm

      He indeed has that love and financial support of people. People trust him because he never embezzles. I hope he wins.

  2. October 27, 2009 4:04 am

    It is a sheer coincident that about two hours prior while on the way to my office I came across Edhi who was preparing to set out on sort of a campaign with a fleet of his ambulances, in front of the Edhi center. I waved at him who smiled back at me. He’s got such a humble and down to earth persona!

    He’s the real star on the rather gloomy national horizon of Pakistan!

    A very informative post!

    • October 28, 2009 2:47 pm

      Thanks for sharing your brief encounter with him. I’ve never met him or seen him. I wish to help his cause with whatever I can afford.

  3. October 27, 2009 6:21 am

    Nice man with nice moral…. even he set out camp in peshawar saddar blasts in last week and appeal to join hands… he himself collected one and half million in 2 to 3 hours in saddar for victims and aid…
    No doubt he is an angel in human’s skin….

    • October 28, 2009 2:49 pm

      I think he’d soon set up another camp for the victims of today’s (28th October) bomb blast.

      What I like is that his network of ambulances are always the first to reach the site of an accident.

      God bless him!

  4. October 28, 2009 6:21 am

    He really deserves the title.

    • October 28, 2009 2:50 pm


      When all the international organizations can consider him why not Noble?

  5. November 1, 2009 6:24 pm

    Without any doubt, he deserves noble price. The conditions under which he works, make him unique. Does anyone in this world have guts, courage, patience and wisdom to work like him? No!

    Truly, he is a blessing for our nation. May Allah bless him and keep this candle of hope and peace alive for all of us. Aameen

  6. Irum Gul permalink
    November 2, 2009 2:28 am

    Bravo! he is a man of hope, bringing hope to hopeless people in a hopeless situation.May Allah bless him a long and healthy live.

  7. February 17, 2010 12:36 pm

    Natural calamity means natural disaster which is caused by nature. Every year many country falls victim to various natural calamities. They are flood, earthquakes & many other natural calamities. The effects of the natural calamities beggar description. They leave a vast trail of devastation. The affected people & animals suffer untold sufferings. They cause heavy damage to our life & properties. Houses are destroyed, cattle are washed away, crops are greatly damaged and trees are uprooted. Thousands of people and other animals remain without food for many days. The after effect of some natural calamities are more serious. Famine breaks out. Many people & animals die for want of food. The prices are all necessary things go up. Many dangerous diseases like cholera, typhoid and dysentery etc. break out in an epidemic form. By raising public awareness and taking necessary precautionary measures and steps natural calamities can be prevented. The government and all the conscious citizens should come forward with concerted efforts to prevent natural calamities.

  8. yasir permalink
    April 20, 2010 3:37 pm

    Though your wish and intention of the Noble Prize for Edhi is great, however many of you may understand that from where the funds for Noble Prize are coming from……its Interest (riba) collected on amount invested for this prize. May be Allah is preventing Edhi’s funds collected thru the Halal (Zakat, sadqa etc) means from the Haram money.

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