Abdul Sattar Edhi 28 February 1928 – 8 July 2016 was a Pakistani philanthropist, ascetic, and humanitarian who founded the Edhi Foundation which runs hospitals, homeless shelters, rehab centres, and orphanages across Pakistan.
Born in Gujarat, British India, Edhi moved to Karachi where he established a free dispensary for Karachi’s low-income residents. Edhi’s charitable activities expanded in 1957 when an Asian flu epidemic swept through Karachi. Donations allowed him to buy his first ambulance the same year. He later expanded his charity network with the help of his wife Bilquis Edhi.
Over his lifetime, the Edhi Foundation expanded backed entirely with private donations including establishing a network of 1,800 minivan ambulances. By the time of his death Edhi was registered as a parent or guardian of nearly 20,000 children. He is known as Angel of Mercy and is considered to be Pakistan’s “most respected” and legendary figure. In 2013, The Huffington Post claimed that he might be “the world’s greatest living humanitarian.”
Edhi maintained a hands-off management style and was often critical of the clergy and politicians. Edhi was a strong proponent of religious tolerance in Pakistan and extended support to the victims of Hurricane Katrina and 1985 famine in Ethiopia. Edhi has been nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Abdul Sattar Edhi, an autobiography: A mirror to the blind by Tehmina Durrani