KARACHI: Celebrated humanitarian and Edhi Foundation Chairman Abdul SattarEdhi passed away at the age of 88 in Ka¬rachi on Friday night.
“He wished to be buried in the same clothes he used to wear. He also wanted to donate his body parts, but only his cornea can be do¬nated as rest of the organs were not in healthy condi¬tion,” said Faisal Edhi.
Edhi was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2013 but had been unable to get a transplant due to frail health. He was receiving treatment at the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT).
Earlier in the day, the philanthropist’s son Faisal and wife BilquisEdhi in¬formed the media that doc¬tors at the facility termed his condition critical.
He felt difficulty while breathing “after which the doctors decided to shift him on a ventilator”.
In June, Edhi declined an offer by former presi¬dent Asif Ali Zardari for treatment abroad, insist¬ing on getting it done in Pakistan, particularly in a government hospital.
Born to a family of trad¬ers in Gujarat, MrEdhi ar¬rived in Pakistan in 1947.
The state’s failure to help his struggling family care for his mother – para¬lysed and suffering from mental health issues – was his painful and decisive turning point towards phi¬lanthropy.
In the sticky streets in the heart of Karachi, MrE¬dhi, full of idealism and hope, opened his first clin¬ic in 1951. “Social welfare was my vocation, I had to free it,” he says in his au¬tobiography, ‘A Mirror To The Blind’.
Motivated by a spiritual quest for justice, over the years MrEdhi and his team created maternity wards, morgues, orphanages, shelters and homes for the elderly – all aimed at help¬ing those who cannot help themselves.
The most prominent symbols of the foundation – its 1,500 ambulances – are deployed with unusual efficiency to the scene of terrorist attacks that tear through the country with devastating regularity.
A national hero
Revered by many as a national hero, MrEdhi cre¬ated a charitable empire out of nothing. He master¬minded Pakistan’s larg¬est welfare organisation almost single-handedly, entirely with private dona¬tions.
Content with just two sets of clothes, he slept in a windowless room of white tiles adjoining the office of his charitable foundation. Sparsely equipped, it had just one bed, a sink and a hotplate.
“He never established a home for his own chil¬dren,” his wife Bilquis, who manages the founda¬tion’s homes for women and children, told AFP in an interview this year.
What he has established is something of a safety net for the poor and destitute, mobilising the nation to donate and help take action – filling a gap left by a lack of welfare state.
MrEdhi has been nomi¬nated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize, and ap¬peared on the list again this year – put there by Ma¬lalaYousafzai, Pakistan’s teenage Nobel laureate.
Condolences pour in
Abdul SattarEdhi’s tire¬less work has helped save hundreds of thousands of lives and shown us what it means to be a man who works for the people, read a statement issued by PM Office.
“Despite all his success, he has always stayed hum¬ble, living a simple life in a small house barely large enough to encapsulate his enormous heart.”