Abdul Sattar Edhi

by Ozge from San Diego

"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself" (Joseph Campbell). To give oneself to a movement or cause that will positively impact the present and future generations is quite an admirable feat of dedication. This is reputed as heroic because it sets the standard for those afraid to take risks in honor of the right thing. Personally, I believe that a hero is self-motivated and not afraid to take risks. People-young and old-look up to heroes because they view them as suitable role models. One does not need to affect millions of people to be considered heroic because a difference can be made with one life. Regardless of a one-time event or long-lasting effect, any act of heroism can be inspiring. But the differences between an act of heroism and a true hero are consistency, devotion, and resilience. However, devotion (in better words, dedication) includes the act of selflessness, so therefore a true hero is an individual who consistently exhibits acts of selflessness and dedication for the well-being of the world.

One individual who devoted their life for the welfare of others is an elderly Pakistani man named Abdul Sattar Edhi. A marvelous dynamic between his personality and actions displays how he exudes the qualities of an exemplary hero. Still making a difference today, Edhi discovered the inspiration to become an inspiration from his late mother, who taught him the simple lesson of giving (Ahmad, Khabir). Edhi singlehandedly created a fleet of 400 of the best organized ambulances in Pakistan and spent over 45 years serving his country's poor ("Edhi A Living Lesson"). His impactful welfare work began in 1950 from Mithadar, where he currently resides. In 1974, Edhi established The Edhi Foundation, where all of his services reside and administer help for the citizens of Pakistan up to today (Abid Ali et al.). Edhi demonstrates dedication to any crucial task regardless of the outcome, and consistently utilizes his altruism to accomplish his goals. Abdul Sattar Edhi undoubtedly lives up to his admirable nickname, "The Mother Teresa of Pakistan" by virtue of his selfless donations to the poor and his humble dedication of his entire life as a restless humanitarian for the cause of the destitute people of Pakistan.

Selflessness is defined as the characteristic of having little concern for oneself; especially regarding money and fame. Edhi validates his heroism by continually exhibiting selflessness through donating not only his money, but also his time to the destitute. He became devoted to do everything possible to help the people of Pakistan; even if it was only himself putting in the effort to aid the destitute: Edhi went to the streets of Pakistan to peacefully ask the citizens for donations. He used the money to treat sick people, and with the leftover donations, he bought a second-hand ambulance and learned how to drive it (Vice). Edhi constantly thinks about how he can use his life for the benefit of the lives of the impoverished, and he does not ask other people to do the "dirty" labor for him. He spends his own time personally going into the streets to ask for money that he does not even use for himself, which proves his selfless personality. Edhi strives for nothing more but improving the quality of life for the poorest of people and that is the one true quality people require when they are looking for a hero. Edhi's late mother inspires his devout, selfless labor; she first taught him the simple lesson of giving, and that shaped his personality and the way he carries himself: "His food intake is generally based on taking pieces of stale bread in the morning, and raw cooked vegetables during a lunch-break. As a child, he was given two paisas daily by his mother. He was directed to spend one on himself, and give away the other to someone less fortunate than him...He never forgot that simple lesson" ("Edhi A Living Legend"). Even though Edhi earned millions of dollars through his charity work, he still chooses to spend as little money on himself and unnecessary lavish needs. He pursues a simplistic life to best support his humanitarian work, in which he constantly labors for the benefit of the indigent. Edhi exemplifies selflessness as one of his heroic traits through his consistent donation of his time and money that he earned from his extreme hard work.

Dedication is defined as a commitment to a task or purpose; and Edhi epitomizes this quality by dedicating not only everyday, but his entire life to his restless humanitarian work, proving he is a commendable role model. Edhi discusses why he does his work and his words reveal his dedication to his job and purpose of life: "It is my principle never to accept any donations from any government or any foreign funded organisation. I do this work for the common people and part of that work is creating a general awareness of such problems as they exist because my work is beyond class, religion and creed. It is because of my principle that people continue to give" (Interview by David Swanson). Edhi works for the people and never for money or fame. This man abandons personal lavishes and adheres to his morals in order to deliver basic necessities to Pakistani citizens in desperate need; and he requires nothing in return. Edhi extends his dedication a step further when he strives to make others aware of the poor, so they can continue his legacy and keep making positive changes even after he dies. Even at a young age, Abdul Sattar Edhi demonstrated feats of admirable courage and devotion to his morals; for example, a time Edhi demonstrated his dedication to supporting the poor in every way is when he stood up to people of higher social class, regardless of the outcome: "In his youth, Edhi worked for Bantva Memon Dispensary. He disliked how they served only memons, discriminating other ethnicities, they did not work to their fullest and yet patronized each other at meetings and considered themselves righteous and highest achievers. This annoyed Edhi to the extent that he openly spoke out against them at a meeting which was attended by big industrialist memons and openly criticized them. This displeased them and they sought to make his life miserable. As they were a powerful group, they easily turned people against him" (Abid Ali et al.). Edhi contains a strong willpower to not let people who are doing others wrong get away with it. Even though those people (at the time) obtained more power and influence than him, he still went after what was right no matter the outcome. Edhi is a prime example of commitment to a task because all of his actions are for the sole purpose of making the quality of other Pakistani's lives better and he does not let anything get in his way due to his intense commitment to his values. Edhi's full commitment to benefiting the lives of the destitute exhibits the true meaning of dedication, which substantiates him as heroic and admirable.

Undeniably, Abdul Sattar Edhi justifies himself as an admirable hero by virtue of his selfless donations to the destitute, and his humbling dedication of his entire life as a restless humanitarian for the cause of the poor citizens of Pakistan. As aforementioned, "A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself" (Joseph Campbell). That is the true definition of a hero and Abdul Sattar Edhi affirms he is one through his everyday actions. His countless donations, enlightening insights, and sheer dedication are legendary examples of his natural heroism. Personally, I am inspired by Abdul Sattar Edhi to be more generous with my time and volunteer work; because ever since I researched his life, I realized how lucky and wealthy I truly am. Why should I keep it all to myself? Edhi did not, and he shares his happiness and well-being with the people he helps, and that is what us as humans should do. Edhi's modesty and purely genuine mindset is such a refreshing sight to see and that alone reminds me that we, as a society, need to spread the positivity and a helping hand around. We get so distracted in our own lives, and we forget that there are people in our world who desperately need a ray of hope. In a society as corrupt and egocentric as ours today, heroes like Abdul Sattar Edhi shine like rays of heavenly light through these storm clouds of greed and pessimism. Edhi represents an image and exact definition of a sincere hero and a reputable humanitarian. He gives all he possesses and more, and that itself makes a huge difference in Pakistan; and ultimately, the world.

Related Links


Abid, Abid. "The Principles and Practices Behind the Success of Abdul Sattar Edhi in the Context of Meaningful Li".

Ahmad , Ahmad . "Karachi''s quiet revolutionary".

Living Legend , Edhi A. "Edhi: A Living Legend ." [Online] Available http://www.contactpakistan.com/socialwork/Edhi/livinglegend.htm .

Swanson, Swanson. "Interview with Abdul Sattar Edhi ".

You, You. "Pakistan''s Real Life Superhero".