Sattar Edhi is the most popular social worker of Pakistan. He is running
an NGO in Pakistan called Edhi Welfare Trust. He was born in 1931 in a small village of Bantva near Jhoona
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 mentally
ill. Young Edhi devoted himself 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 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, 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. Even at this early age, he felt personally responsible for
taking on the challenge of developing a system of services to reduce
human miseries. The task was huge; he had no resources. But it was some
thing 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, Edhi initially started as a peddler, 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 the community decided to establish a free dispensary. He became
involved in the charity work. However, soon his personal vision of a
growing and developing system of services made him decide to establish a
welfare trust of his own and named it as “Edhi Trust”. He made an appeal
to the public for funds and he was able to raise RS 2,00,000. The range
and scope of work of Edhi trust expanded with remarkable speed under the
driving spirit of the man behind it.
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.
Despite his enormous fame and the vast sums of money that passes through
his hands, Edhi adheres to a very simple and modest life style. He and
his family live in a two-room apartment adjacent to the premises of
Foundation’s headquarters. They live on the income from government
securities that Edhi bought many years ago to take care of their
Of the 2000 paid workers of Edhi foundation 500 are women. They work in
various capacities. More-over several women volunteers help Edhi
foundation in fund raising.