Posted on

Abdul Sattar Edhi – Shiny Star of the Brighter Side of Pakistan

Abdul Sattar Edhi - Shiny Star of the Brighter Side of Pakistan

Who was Abdul Sattar Edhi?

Abdul Sattar Edhi, an ‘Angel of Mercy’ and “Pakistan’s Father Teresa” was a high-stature,  award-winning philanthropist, known in Pakistan and around the world for his astounding social work and that too at unprecedented scale. Edhi established a welfare foundation almost six decades ago that he oversaw together with his wife, Bilquis Edhi.

Abdul Sattar Edhi, was born on February 28th 1928 in a small village of Bantva near Joona Garh in the Gujarat district of then British-ruled India but moved to Karachi shortly after Pakistan was formed.

Abdul Sattar Edhi at the age of 19, was deeply affected by the death of his mother and never finished school but later said that the world of suffering became his tutor.

Abdul Sattar Edhi - Shiny Star of the Brighter Side of Pakistan

Founding a Charity Empire

Who could have thought that a person whose work primarily relies on charities and donations will give birth to a gigantic charity empire. In 1947, Britain’s colonial rule of India came to end and Edhi, aged 19, moved to newly independent Pakistan, initially selling cloth at a wholesale market and begging for donations to start his own health care programme.

Abdul Sattar Edhi had a dream of helping the underprivileged masses unable to pay for their own treatment that he encountered every day.

Abdul Sattar Edhi with the help and donation of kind souls, had soon raised enough capital to acquire a small office, which he swiftly transformed into a medical dispensary, later buying his first ambulance and driving it himself to deliver aid and pharmaceuticals.

With his high ambitions and a strong zeal to help the needy, he started expanding his operations and services and began to recruit medical students to support the cause. The newly formed Edhi Foundation duly came to prominence by distinguishing itself in public service during the Asian Flu Pandemic of 1957.

Abdul Sattar Edhi - Shiny Star of the Brighter Side of Pakistan


With the slogan “Live and Help Live, The Edhi Foundation  continued to expand across rural and urban Pakistan and is currently the largest welfare organisation in the country. Since its inception, it has rescued more than 20,000 abandoned babies, rehabilitated some 50,000 orphans and has trained more than 40,000 nurses.

It also runs the world’s largest ambulance service (operating 1,500 vehicles) and Edhi ambulances are welcomed as friendly neighbors throughout Pakistan.

To give an idea of the scale of the organisation’s reach – if you dial 115 from a phone anywhere in southern Asia, the Edhi Foundation will answer.

Edhi died last year leaving behind 20,004 children

Abdul Sattar Edhi died of kidney failure in January last year, leaving behind his wife of 52 years, Bilquis, a former nurse, and four offspring. Oh, and the 20,000 other children he is registered as the parent or legal guardian of.


Abdul Sattar Edhi - Shiny Star of the Brighter Side of Pakistan


His 89th Birthday : A honorary doodle from Google

On his 89th birthday, Google celebrated the life and work of Pakistan’s gem philanthropist with a new Doodle, picturing the bearded figure of Edhi standing near one of his signature emergency response vehicles, a family visiting a health clinic, and an open book.

Abdul Sattar Edhi - Shiny Star of the Brighter Side of Pakistan

Awards & Accolades

Edhi was also honored with various with various national and international awards. Here are few of them:

International awards:

Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service (1986)

Lenin Peace Prize (1988)
Paul Harris Fellow from Rotatory International Foundation, (1993)
Peace Prize from (USSR former) for services in the Armenian earthquake disaster, (1998)
Largest Voluntary Ambulance Organization of the World – Guinness Book of World Records

Hamdan Award for volunteers in Humanitarian Medical Services (2000) UAE
International Balzan Prize (2000) for Humanity, Peace and Brotherhood, Italy
Peace and Harmony Award (Delhi), 2001
Peace Award (Mumbai), 2004
Peace Award (Hyderabad Deccan), 2005
Wolf of Bhogio Peace Award (Italy), 2005
Gandhi Peace Award (Delhi),2007
UNESCO Madan jeet sing Peace Award (Paris),2007
Peace Award Seoul (South Korea), 2008
Honorary Doctorate degree from the Institute of Business Administration Karachi (2006).
UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize (2009)
Peace Award (London), 2011


National awards

Silver Jubilee Shield by College of Physicians and Surgeons, Pakistan
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


Source: (Wikipedia ,


With Edhi’s demise, the campaign to get him a posthumous Nobel Peace Prize, which is given on rare occasions, took a storm in the country. Most Pakistanis believed that if there was a person who truly deserved to win the prestigious award, it was Abdul Sattar Edhi, though he was not awarded one.

Per directive of the Prime Minister, State Bank of Pakistan will release the commemorative coin in honor of Pakistani philanthropist through a special condolence reference for Edhi.

Abdul Sattar Edhi - Shiny Star of the Brighter Side of Pakistan


10 inspiring quotes from Abdul Sattar Edhi,  the ‘richest poor man’

  1. “My religion is humanitarianism, which is the basis of every religion in the world.”
  2. “Appearance is a distraction, surrendering it develops truth and humility in abundance.”
  3. “So, many years later there were many who still complained and questioned, ‘Why must you pick up Christians and Hindus in your ambulance?’ And I was saying, ‘Because the ambulance is more Muslim than you’.”
  4. “Empty words and long praises do not impress God. Show Him your faith by your deeds.”
    “I do not have any formal education. What use is education when we do not become human beings? My school is the welfare of humanity.”
  5. “The dead has only one place to go… up. Wherever you bury them, they will go the same way, up.”
  6. “The Holy Book should open in your souls, not on your laps. Open your heart and see God’s people. In their plight you will find Him.”
  7. “Never take anyone’s death to heart… Remember God by the equality with which He implements it. Nobody is different, the richest to the poorest, from here to the end of the globe face it equally. What an example of equality.”
  8. “Those who believed in changing the world were either hungry by circumstance or practiced deprivation by choice.”
  9. “Chasing after desires creates inner turmoil. When the devil becomes a guide, dacoits (armed robbers) and gangsters are manufactured. He makes men fight against their souls to survive expensive items and most lose everything in the face of his strength. The internal enemy can only be overcome by a personal revolution.”