The message sent to the 2016 AsiaNews symposium by the son of Abdul Sattar Edhi, one of Asia's best known philanthropists, called the "Mother Teresa of Pakistan." The example of the future saint has moved the conscience of Pakistani society and prompted mercy among Muslims in the country. Special thanks to the missionaries working in Pakistan.
IRome (AsiaNews) - Abdul Sattar Edhi, one of the best-known philanthropists in Pakistan, died on July 8 at age 88 in a hospital in Karachi, where he was hospitalized from time for kidney failure. His funeral was attended by many faithful of all denominations, who wanted to pay tribute to the man who was called the "Mother Teresa of Pakistan." The evening of his demise the archdiocese of Karachi organized prayer vigils in all the churches.
Speaking to AsiaNews, several members of the Church of Pakistan, Caritas Karachi, along with activists, religious Christians and Muslims have expressed deep sorrow for the death of an "angel of mercy" and stressed that his example of love will survive in the future thanks to the many social works he initiated. He is the founder of the "Edhi Foundation", the charitable work that operates the largest network of ambulances around the world.
Edhi was born in 1928 in a small village in Gujarat (India), but in 1947 – the year of the partition of the country - had moved with his family to Pakistan where he opened the first free medical clinic. Today, in Pakistan alone, his foundation is home to 5,700 people in 17 residential institutions and coordinates 1,500 ambulances. The social network manages dozens of free hospitals, laboratories, orphanages, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers for drug addiction. All of his centers are equipped with a cot where children born from unwanted pregnancies can be left. Edhi repeated constantly: "Do not kill them, put them in the crib. We will take care of these innocent people. "
The philanthropist has received numerous international awards. Even his wife Bilquis Edhi is engaged in the humanitarian field and last year received the International Mother Teresa Prize. Despite the awards, Edhi led a sober life and without pomp to the last, he wore simple clothes and lived in a small, windowless room next to the office of the foundation.
Irfan Mufti, deputy director of South Asia Partnership Pakistan, reports: "Edhi has made two major contributions to our society. In an age of materialism, apathy, regression, he has served in a human way, honest and straightforward with the typical features of a social worker. He also rejected any position of power, wealth, luxury. People like him transcend every dimension of time and space and become immortal through their words and deeds. "
After the death of his father, Faisal Edhi, 40, took over the reins of the Edhi Foundation (https://edhi.org/). The Foundation, as mentioned above, operates the largest network in the world of ambulances and offers free hospitality in homes for the elderly, orphanages, homes for children, rehabilitation centers for drug addicts and the mentally ill
Below the message and testimony he sent to the 2016 AsiaNews International Symposium.
Mother Teresa was a great social worker who dedicated her whole life to the service of humanity without distinction of cast or religion. Her canonization will immortalize her service for the poorest of the poor. Such people help in creating a good milieu which can help in ending rivalries between nations and communities.
My late father Abdul Sattar Edhi used to talk about the good works of Kolkata nun. “We should learn from her. Muslims should adopt the concept of missionary spirit. We have been negligent on many levels, not many people are involved in humanitarian mission”, he used to say.
Both Mother Teresa and my father belonged to the same period. Many newspapers labeled him as "Pakistan's Mother Teresa." Both were criticized by religious hardliners and alleged of conversions, perhaps they had no other argument. Only missionary spirit can help them in working for the welfare of others and understanding their sufferings.
My father always admired Catholics nuns who run centers for disabled in Karachi, kept close relations with missionaries and used to send me to there. We still support two of these centers. Every day we send five kilograms of mutton to Dar ul Sukun, the biggest Church run center for mentally and physically disadvantaged people in Karachi archdiocese.
Msgr. Joseph Coutts Archbishop of Karachi visited our center with his delegation after the death of my father. The prayer was held in the room of my father where the Church delegation lit candles and prayed for his soul. The bishop also gave me a candle from the Vatican. Many priests attended his funeral in Karachi and churches held special prayers for him next Sunday. I am glad they still remember his services and paid him respect.
Also my mother, a professional nurse, was awarded the Mother Teresa Memorial International Award 2015 in India for social justice. My parents took care of the deaf and mute Indian girl Geeta who had been stranded in Pakistan for a decade. “I am glad our services were accepted”, she told me. We have people of all faiths in our centers but we never count how many of them are non Muslims. We respect and treat everybody equally including Ahmadis, who are persecuted in Pakistan for posing as Muslims.
For 24 years, my father trained me to do what Mother Teresa did. I hope to serve the poor and God will pave the way if He wishes so. As a Muslim social worker in Pakistan, I thanks missionaries for their kindness and establish centers who work without any discrimination in our third world country. There is no other example of the ways in which they help the disabled especially handicapped children. I urge them to continue working for the betterment of humanity because people only remember these deeds.
Pakistan is the sixth-most populous country with a population exceeding 201 million people, that’s close to one third of the population in Europe. The state has failed in providing basic facilities like public transport, quality health and education. Much work needs to be done and we need more people like Mother Teresa.
(with Kamran Chaudry)