Abdul Sattar Edhi, who was revered as a “living saint,” set up one of Pakistan’s biggest welfare organisations establishing clinics and orphanages across the country. In addition, he also ran a vast fleet of ambulances, offering help to poor communities failed by inadequate public health and welfare services.
Born in Bantva, Gujarat, British India in 1928, 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.
At one point of time, his organisation was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records, for operating the world’s largest charity-run ambulance network. Edhi died late on July 2016 at the age of 88, after a prolonged bout of kidney illness. He is one of the few civilians to have been honored with a state funeral.
Edhi Foundation, which he found nearly 60 years ago, still continues to provide help to the needy across the country even after its founder’s death. On 4 July 2016, Defence Housing Authority announced its decision to rename 5 km long Beach Avenue on Seaview as ‘Abdul Sattar Edhi Avenue’ in recognition of the welfare services by Edhi.
On 28 February 2017, Google celebrated Edhi with a Google Doodle hailing his “super-efficient” ambulance service. On 31 March 2017, a ₨. 50 cupro-nickel commemorative coin was issued upon the recommendation of the State Bank of Pakistan to the Prime Minister Sharif, who decided to commemorate Edhi’s services on the national level. Edhi became the only social worker and the fifth Pakistani personality to have been honoured with a commemorative coin