Pakistan’s “Angel of Mercy,” Abdul Sattar Edhi died late Friday (July 8) at a medical centre in Karachi, where he succumbed to prolonged illness. His last words were: “Meray mulk k ghareebo ka khiyal rakhna.” (“Take care of the poor people in my country.”)
The revered humanitarian, who has also been called Pakistan’s Mother Teresa, set up the Edhi Foundation to help the underprivileged. Whether it was orphans, the elderly or the disabled, Edhi’s door was open for all. Before passing away, he saved many lives: His foundation runs Pakistan’s largest ambulance service, larger than any government-owned ambulance service in the country. In his own death, too, he gave someone the gift of sight.
During his lifetime, Edhi was praised for being most secular in his wishes to serve the destitute—a selfless quality that angered the country’s mullahs. They were jealous of his unmatched fundraising power and called him an “infidel” because he showed no ethnic bias when helping anyone who turned to him for help, the Guardian reported. Speaking of them, he said “I will not go to paradise where these type of people go. I will go to heaven where the poor and miserable people live.”
Those who had no one would find a sympathizer in Edhi. For parents unable to keep their children, a jhoola (cradle) was kept outside every Edhi center. Above it, a placard that states: “Do not commit another sin: leave your baby in our care.” He also washed abandoned dead bodies to give them dignity in death with a proper burial.
An extraordinary social worker, Edhi’s humility knew no bounds. “I’m an ordinary man. and if you want to find me then you will find me among ordinary people,” he said in These Birds Walk, the 2013 documentary marking his humanitarian efforts.