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Blog / Philanthropist Spotlight: Abdul Sattar Edhi


was a Pakistani philanthropist, ascetic, and humanitarian who founded the Edhi Foundation, which runs the world's largest volunteer ambulance network, along with various homeless shelters, animal shelters, rehabilitation centres, and orphanages across Pakistan.

Posted by Mitchell O'Neill on November 06, 2020

In 1928 Abdul Sattar Edhi was born in a small village called Bantva in India. When Edhi was 11 years old his mother became mentally ill and he devoted himself to looking after her. Edhi was only ever to take care of her so long before she passed away when he was 19, this experience left a lasting impression on him. It made him think of all of the other millions of people that were also suffering like his mother. 

Even at a young age Edhi had visions of welfare centres and hospitals that could help people who are suffering from mental illness or for people who need 24/7 assistance. In 1942 Edhi migrated to Pakistan and worked many different jobs, after a few years of establishing in Pakistan, Edhi created a free dispensary for the community. His vision was to develop multifarious services led to Edhi establishing his own welfare trust which he called the “Edhi Trust”. 

The Edhi Trust was very successful and lended to be a valuable resource for the community, it led to the implementation of a free maternity home, and established emergency ambulance systems in the metropolis of Karachi, Pakistan which at the time had a population of over 10 million people. 

As time went on and as the people's confidence with the Trust and their philanthropic activities grew, Edhi earned the nickname “Angel of Mercy”. Edhi was so devoted to responding to every call for help regardless of gender, race, or income that he often traveled in his own ambulance making rounds within his community regularly. On top of that, Edhi found enough time to spend with residents of his orphanages called “Edhi Homes” where he talks with and plays with the children. The residents of the orphanages often called him Nana (Grandfather) because he was in his 70s and he had a big gray flowing beard.
Despite his fame and the amount of money that passed through his hands Edhi has always lived a very simple and modest lifestyle. Neither Edhi or his wife Bilquis received any salary, they lived off of income from government securities that Edhi bought to take care of his family's personal needs for the rest of their lives. This also freed up a lot of time for Edhi and his wife to continue to stay devoted to their missionary work. In 1991 during an interview Edhi once 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 our people.” This really gives us an idea of Edhi’s devotion towards his philanthropic responsibility.
Edhi who passed in 2016 was an extraordinary philanthropist who valued putting other people's lives and his community first. Today he has a foundation called “The Edhi Foundation” Currently, there are 13 different Edhi Homes in Pakistan that are housing over 6,000 people. Additionally, the Edhi Foundation is working to implement a project called the “High Ways Project” which has a goal to construct 500 Edhi Centres along a sizeable portion of the highways in Pakistan. Learn more about one of the most famous philanthropists in Pakistan history here.


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#pakistan #abdulsattaredhi #philanthropy
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