Profile of The Founder
 
 
Every society is destined to face the problems of looking after the welfare of the sick, the weak, the destitute and the needy. All societies are alike in this respect. One way of assessing the status of a society on the road to civilization is the value accorded to an individual and his basic human needs. these have not always received the attention they desetve in the planning of economics, particularly in developing countries. Most of the available resources are consumed by defense needs and pressing demands for technological progress.

Programs for developement in the social sector stay a long way behind mainly because of financial constraints. Speical efforts are, therefore, needed to mobilize community resources to initiate and develop programs for the welfare of the weak and the disadvantaged members of the society.

Sometimes it happens that a fortunate combination of the national situation and personal characteristics produce an individual with a capacity to understand the challenge and develop appropriate responses to this challenge. Such an individual in the case of Pakistan is Abdul Sattar Edhi, the founder of Edhi Foundation
Abdul Sattar Edhi was born in 1928 in a small village of Bantva near Joonah Garh, Gujrat (India). The seeds of compassion for the suffering humanity were sown in his soul by his mother's infirmity. When Edhi was at the tender age of eleven, his mother became paralyzed and later got metally ill. Young Abdul Sattar devoted himself for looking after all her needs; cleaning, bathing, changing clothes and feeding. This proved to be a loosing battle against the disease, and her helplessness increased over the years. Her persistent woeful condition left a lasting impression on young Edhi. The course of his life took a different turn from other persons of his age. His studies were also seriously affected and he could not complete his high school level. For him the world of suffering became his tutor and source of wisdom.

Edhi's mother died when he was 19. His personal experience made him think of thousands and millions, suffering like his mother, around with nobody to look after them. He thought that he had a call to help these people. He had a vision of chains of welfare centers and hospitals that could be opened to alleviate the pain of those suffering from illness and neglect. He also thought of the in-human treatment meted out to the mentally ill, the insane and the disabled persons. Even at this early age, he felt personally responsible for taking on the challenge of developing a system of sevices to reduce human miseries. The task was huge; he had no resources. But it was something that he had to do even if he had to walk to the streets with a cap in hand to beg for this purpose.

Edhi and his family migrated to Pakistan in 1947. In order to earn his living, Abdul Sattar Edhi initially started as a pedlar, later became a commission agent selling cloth in the wholesale market in Karachi. After a couple of years, he left this occupation and with the support of some members of his community decided to establish a free despensary. He became involved in this charity work. However, soon his personal vision of a growing and developing system of multifarious services made him decide to establish a welfare trust of his own and named it "Edhi Trust". An appeal was made to the public for funds. The response was good, and Rs. 200,000 were raised. The range and scope of work of Edhi Trust expanded with remarkable speed under the driving spirit of the man behind it. A maternity home was established and emergency ambulance service was started. More donations were received as people's confidence in the activities of the trust grew. With the passage of time, masses gave him the title of the "Angel of mercy".

Abdul Sattat Edhi was married in 1965 to Bilquis, a nurse who worked at the Edhi dispensary. The couple have four children, two daughters and two sons. Bilquis runs the free maternity home at the headquarter in Karachi and organizes the adoption of illegitimate and abandoned babies. The husband-wife team has come to share the common vision of single minded devotion to the cause of alleviation of human sufferings and a sense of personal responsibiliy to respond to each call for help, regardless of race, creed or status.

Despite his enormous fame and the vast sums of money that passes through his hands, Edhi adheres to a very modest lifestyle. He and his family live in a two room apartment adjacent to the premises of Foundation's headquarter. Neither Edhi nor Bilquis receives any salary, The live on the income from government securities that Edhi bought many years ago to take care of their personal needs for the rest of their lives, thereby freeing them to devote single mindedly to their missionary work.