LAHORE, Pakistan – When I heard news reports last week that the great Pakistani humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi was in critical condition, I prayed for his health.
Just minutes after I finished my prayer, the news of his death came to me. It was hard to believe.
He was gone. A legend, a hero, an era, it was all gone.
To me, he was a hero who gave up a good life and spent most of his life helping people. He was probably the only hope for thousands of people in need.
I once saw him on the street, collecting donation on a main road as we passed by in the car. It’s the only time I ever saw him, and I didn’t get to meet him.
Edhi, who died July 8 at age 88, was the pride of Pakistan. While names like Osama bin Laden and words like terrorism make me feel ashamed, as a Pakistani, I feel proud when I hear the names of people like Abdul Sattar Edhi and Ansar Burney, a human rights activist.
Edhi started the Edhi Foundation and has been serving orphans, widows and helpless people for decades. He was sometimes called the ‘Angel of Mercy’ and ‘The Richest Poor Man.’
The Foundation pays no attention to religion, class or race when giving charity. It serves many thousands of babies, disabled people, women, children and elderly in need.
Other services include searching for missing people, providing medical services such as maternity care and family planning and disaster relief.
It also runs a massive fleet of ambulances that transport victims of accidents and terror attacks to hospitals.
Beloved by the people, Edhi was criticized by the religious right in his country, according to The Guardian, which reported that when he was questioned as to why he helped Christians and Hindus as well as Muslims, Edhi said, “because my ambulance is more Muslim than you.”
His death is indeed an end of a golden era and a great loss for this world. I hope we can carry on his legacy.
Let’s be Edhi.
Irha Nadeem is a Junior Reporter for Youth Journalism International.
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