Bilquis Edhi devoted her life to continuing with her selfless goals of Edhi. She sadly passed away in 2016.
She was one of the most hard-working humanitarians in Pakistan. She was the co-chair of the Edhi Foundation. A cause association that offered many types of assistance in Pakistan including a clinic and crisis administration for Karachi.
A Glimpse into the Life of Bilquis Edhi
In the midst of the chaos in Karachi, Edhi Foundation was a glimmer of light in the city. As things got heavier in Karachi with a lot of ethnic and political violence. Bilquis Edhi and Abdul Sattar Edhi made it their life mission to give some hope to the people.
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Edhi Foundation is responsible for opening 300 welfare centers across Pakistan. As of today the organization is run by 3500 social workers plus thousands of people who Volunteer. The Edhi Foundation also made donations towards the victims of Hurricane Katrina in the US. She joined the medical caretakers course at the Edhi Nurses Training Center as a young girl. In April 1966 she married Abdul Sattar Edhi. From there, she started working with the Edhi Foundation. Edhi Foundation, which was formed by Abdul Sattar Edhi to help the needy, has become one of the most acclaimed social welfare organizations in the world.
Bilquis Edhi who was a nurse by profession was taking care of the adoption services provided by the foundation. In an interview before her death Bilquis while reminiscing about the past told a story. In 2012 when visiting Lyari, she was greeted by hundreds of locals who showed up to pay their respects. When asked about what kind of advice she would like to give to the ones watching, she said that we should all learn to be human and bring out each other’s humanity. She preached the love for humanity, helping the poor, getting rid of hunger more than that, she taught people not to be materialistic.
No Stops to the Fight for Social Justice
Bilquis was to Karachi what William Wilberforce was to the people of the United Kingdom. After the death of her husband she devoted her life to continue his mission even though he was missed by her and millions of people in Pakistan. She made sure that a part of him was still alive and worked hard as if nothing had changed. Bilquis believed that women are not inferior, men don’t have the mettle that women have. She was an open minded person who worked for the women of the country.
She always said that women should be given opportunities and men should not put restrictions on them. If women have skills then let them work and give them a chance to shine. Bilquis proved that she was Abdul Sattar Edhi’s equal; she stayed by his side for 50 years as his partner in the Edhi Foundation. According to Abdul Sattar Edhi his wife did 70% of the charity work. Despite the visible discrimination towards women she stayed undaunted and accompanied her husband to collect dead bodies after accidents and crimes. Their courage knew no limits as they worked during live firing and were never scared.
Everyone deserves a proper burial and that is why we collect dead bodies and give them a funeral, said Bilquis in an interview in 2021. The reason why Bilquis is beloved in Pakistan is because she worked without a motive, never accepting anything in return just like her husband. She even turned down government fundings and salary after her husband’s passing.
Women Don’t Want Anyone
Karachi in itself, is one of the cruelest cities in the world with 20 million inhabitants. In this city everything can be bought and sold. Especially the dignity of the victims of human and commodity trafficking, of those who forge the enrichment of others. Perhaps 70 percent of the population has to beg to live. The vast majority of victims needless to say are women. Those of Bilquis Edhi have crossed the line of what is bearable in life. Bilquis Edhi Center is the largest psychiatric hospital in Asia. Over 1,700 women who in fact do not want anyone wander in a huge insane asylum, most of them prisoners of dementia caused by family and social rejection. In February 2008 there were more than half a thousand women in that “psychiatric” prison and only women.
There are now 1,700. In 2017 Bilquis said everything remains the same except of course the space available to the victims. Edhi Foundation is an NGO that runs 18 shelters, mostly for abandoned women. According to Bilquis Three-quarters of those women will never leave. Pakistan already has a population of over 200 million, almost half illiterate. It is a country where so-called honor killings the murder of women for violating any of the most sexist customs in the family are more than the norm.
Bilquis Edhi filled the Edhi center with such victims. Naseem Siddiqui, Director of Bilquis Edhi Hospital who was at the helm of the institution from the age of 14 introduced a few victims. Leyla for example, who was a nurse for years, was picked up from a forest badly damaged after a long ordeal inflicted by a husband who systematically and savagely raped her. As Naseem puts it “these are women without a second chance this is a graveyard of hope.
The Father of The Poor and The Mother of Pakistan
With the sweat of their brow, both Bilquis and Abdul Sattar Edhi created a charitable empire that has become the largest civil organization in Pakistan. It was in the sticky alleys of the historic heart of Karachi that the young idealistic peddler opened his first dispensary in 1951, after having slammed the door of charitable organizations which he considered too communitarian. Social service was my vocation, I had to free it from wealthy donors who preferred doing charity rather than creating mass social services, Edhi explains in his autobiography “A mirror for the blind”.
Driven by a spiritual quest for justice Edhi and his wife then set out to make up for the state’s bankruptcy in the social field, creating maternity wards, morgues, orphanages, asylums, retirement homes over the years with their personal funds. The showcase of their foundation are the 1,500 ambulances bearing the emergency number 115 deployed with astonishing efficiency on the e who had their criticisms as well. Extremist Islamists often accused Edhi of reaping the fruits of sexual relations outside marriage in a country where they are illegal.
The Cradles: A Successful Project
Today, the Edhi establishment is a significant asset for helping casualties of calamity universally. Bilquis Bano Edhi died last Friday, driving the country into quite a shock. Following her death Condolences poured in from around the world. Throughout the years, she helped place a large number of infants with adoptive families in Pakistan. She had a strong relationship with homeless young ladies and orphans at the Edhi Home. For her contributions, she was awarded the 1986 Ramon Magsaysay Award and she was also a recipient of Hilal-i-Imtiaz.
Because of her years of hard work she was referred to as The Mother of Pakistan. She created over 300 cradles all through Pakistan where guardians can leave unwanted kids or those that can’t be raised. They convey the message “Don’t kill, pass on the child to live in the cradle”. Her endeavors reduced the amount of children killed by their own parents significantly in Pakistan. Throughout her life she has helped over 16,000 unwanted abandoned children.
An Icon That Will Never Be Forgotten
Bilquis is the definitive champion of Pakistan, the hero of the poor, a sign of hope for those who have no one. If it hadn’t been for Edhi “I don’t think there would have been any life for me” explains Seher, a 16 year old girl who grew up in the decrepit building where the Foundation is based. She follows a rudimentary education there and will not leave until after her marriage arranged by Bilquis, whom she sometimes calls mother. Seher also said that “even after her death i think she is looking out for me”. They were my heroes, says Faisal Edhi, taking over the reins from his parents. While talking about his role as the new leader of Edhi Foundation he said “it’s a great responsibility we still have a lot to do in this feudal and unjust society”.
She dedicated her life to being the servant of the needy. And for her work and effort she will never be forgotten by the people of this country. The Edhi Foundation provided help without judgment. A young girl by the name of Khadija, the daughter of a thief imprisoned for the burglary of the Foundation said that “Bilquis and Papa Edhi were there 24 hours a day for us”. Even after her death she brings smiles to people’s faces and it’s clear that the whole world is thankful for their efforts. May she rest in peace.