She Would Give Me Two Coins: One for Me, and One for the Needy

Community News



















This past November, Zainab Chaudry of Maryland visited her ancestral home of Pakistan. She interviewed humanitarian and philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi in Karachi. Edhi is the topic of a recently released acclaimed documentary “These Birds Walk” produced by Bassem Tariq and directed by Omar Mullick. Eighty year-old Edhi found and runs a network of over 300 centers that provides social services for women, the elderly and orphans.  The Bilquis Edhi Foundation has rescued 20,000 abandoned infants, 50,000 orphans and trained 40,000 nurses.

Tell us about Edhi Foundation. What is the purpose of this organization?

{the]Foundation was founded to work for the cause of humanity. Our mission is to help human beings and humanity around the world, especially in Pakistan.

When was Edhi Foundation established?

We started it in 1947 around the time Pakistan was founded. I was about 20 years old and there was a lot of poverty. People were in need of help. Today we have offices all over the country, from East to West, North to South. We also have 37 offices across the world.

What inspired you to become a humanitarian?

All credit goes to Allah. Allah wanted me to work for this cause. As a Muslim, I have a belief that Allah is helping me. I am an ordinary person and I want to be seen as an ordinary person. My mother always told me I have to help others. She would give me two coins and tell me: “One is for you, one you must give to help someone who is needy”. She always told me I had to help other people. She was strict but she loved me. She loved me very much.

What has been your greatest challenge in operating Edhi Foundation?

There is no challenge. Allah has made it all easy for me. I have a simple way to accept donations. I don't mind begging. If we are low on funds, I will stand on the street corner, and people will come from everywhere and give money. I don't mind begging so I can help others.


















What was your own childhood like?

I have very little education. I have seen many people who are educated. The politicians are all educated and still Pakistan has so much corruption. My mother was not always well, and she was strict, but she took care of me and loved me. My father was a businessman. He was not always home. I have three brothers and one sister. The Pakistani community is always cooperative and generous. My immediate family and grandsons help run Edhi Foundation, but my extended family is not involved.

What is the most rewarding aspect of doing this line of work? Of giving back to others?

It has created a very strong willpower in me. It has brought internal happiness and a strong belief in Allah. It has helped me become a stronger person. I did not think I would live this long. Allah is keeping me alive.

Do you have any regrets? If you could do one thing differently, what would it be?

I have no regrets. Allah has helped me be successful in all aspects of life. There is nothing that I would differently.
















How did you meet Bilquis Bibi? What role does she play in your organization?

My wife is a part of me. She has stood by me the entire way. We cannot clap with one hand. Without her, I could not help as many people as I have. In the beginning she helped with Edhi Foundation. I saw the way she took care of babies in a cradle. She had a good heart and that appealed to me. I knew she would help me help Pakistanis. Allah has blessed me with a good wife and she is as part of Edhi Foundation as I am.

Describe a typical day.

I wake up at 4:00AM. Eat breakfast. Meet people. I spend the entire day at the office. This work is my only obligation. Allah has blessed me.

Is it true that Edhi Foundation does not accept monetary donations from the government?

If politicians donate money, then we return it. We do not seek donations from the government.

How are funds donated to Edhi Foundation allocated?

Whenever there is disaster anywhere, Edhi Foundation plays a role in delivering aid and relief. Generous donations have paid for the purchase and operation of 1,800 Edhi ambulances across Pakistan. We never turn away anyone who needs help. People drop children and parents off, we take care of everyone who is brought to our centers. Money is needed to buy food, clothing, medicine, supplies.

Your work has been an inspiration to people around the world. What would you tell them?

Humanity is the most important thing in the world. It transcends religion when we have to help those in need. Whatever you do in the world, do it to help others.