Abdul Sattar Edhi is a prominent philanthropist and social worker based out of Karachi, Pakistan. He was born in 1928, in the city of Bantva in what is now western India. Mr. Edhi's first interaction with human suffering occurred at the age of eleven, when his mother was physically paralyzed and later suffered from mental illness. Mr. Edhi spent his waking hours caring for her, and her worsening health and eventual death left a lasting impact on his life. In 1947, at the age of 19, Mr. Edhi's family was forced to flee their hometown and relocate to Karachi. Finding himself in a new city without any resources, Mr. Edhi resolved to dedicate his life to aiding the poor, and over the last sixty years, he has single handedly changed the face of welfare in Pakistan.
Mr. Edhi began his philanthropic career in 1951, by purchasing a small shop, which he converted into his first free dispensary. He collected funds by standing on street corners and begging for money, which he later used to purchase his first ambulance. Armed with basic medical training, Mr. Edhi drove around the streets of Karachi administering free basic health care to anybody who needed it, and earned a reputation for being a selfless aid to the injured and unwell. Soon thereafter, Mr Edhi founded the Edhi Trust and Foundation, with an initial sum of a mere five thousand rupees. Regarded as a guardian for the poor, Mr. Edhi began receiving numerous donations, which allowed him to expand his services; he opened a maternity center and a nursing school. As his funding increased, Mr. Edhi expanded his networks of clinics, opened adoptions centers, soup kitchens and shelters for children and battered women. To this day, the Edhi Foundation continues to grow in both size and service, and is currently the largest welfare organization in Pakistan. Since its inception, the Edhi Foundation has rescued over 20,000 abandoned infants, rehabilitated over 50,000 orphans and has trained over 40,000 nurses. It also runs over three hundred and thirty welfare centers in rural and urban Pakistan which operate as food kitchens, rehabilitation homes, shelters for abandoned women and children and clinics for the mentally handicapped. The Edhi Foundation is also the leading source of emergency medical assistance in Pakistan with the world's largest fleet of over eighteen hundred ambulances, twenty eight rescue boats and two airplanes. Additionally, they also run twenty-four hour medical dispensaries, a missing persons hot line and own the largest morgue in Pakistan.
The Edhi Foundation has also worked extensively in international relief, including donating to victims of Hurricane Katrina, cyclone relief in Bangladesh, aid to tsunami-impacted regions in 2003 and ambulance services in Afghanistan. The Edhi foundation has centers in the United States, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Yet Mr. Edhi has remained a simple and humble man. To this day, he owns two pairs of clothes, has never taken a salary from his organization and lives in a small two bedroom apartment over his clinic in Karachi. Due to his unassuming nature and immense contribution to the well being of his fellow citizens, Mr. Edhi has become a folk hero for many Pakistanis. The people of Pakistan are indebted to him for his unwavering commitment to the social welfare of Pakistani's and share in his vision for a brighter future for our country. Mr. Edhi is a living testament to the innumerable good that can come out of one mans vision and dedication to achieving a better life for his fellow citizens.