Dr. Edhi wins top UN prize for non-violence
Dr. Abdul Sattar Edhi, a Pakistan-based philanthropist, has recently won top UN award for his contributions promoting tolerance and non-violence.
Abdul Sattar Edhi of Pakistan and a Belgian human rights defender were Tuesday awarded a prestigious United Nations prize for their work in promoting tolerance and non-violence.
Edhi, the philanthropist, and Franois Houtart of Belgium were awarded the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)-Madanjeet Singh Prize on the unanimous recommendation of an international jury to UNESCO Director-General Koochiro Matsuura, according to an announcement in Paris.
They will share the $100,000 prize money and receive the award on November 16, the International Day for Tolerance.
DR. EDHI'S EARLY LIFE
He was born on January 1, 1928 in Bantva, British India. His father was a textile trader and earned a modest income for his family. He was a natural born leader and would encourage his friends to hold tiny circuses and perform gymnastics for the locals. When his mother would send him to school she would give him two paisa, one to spend for himself and the other to spend for another. At the age of eleven, he started to take care of his mother who suffered paralysis from severe diabetes. From an early age, Edhi learned to help others before himself - this would be crucial to success in his life later on.
BIRTH OF EDHI FOUNDATION
His family migrated to Karachi, Pakistan after the Partition of 1947. In 1951, he used the money he saved up while he was looking after his mother to purchase a small shop. It was at this shop where he opened a tiny dispensary with the help of a doctor who taught him basic medical care. He also encouraged his friends to give literacy classes there. Edhi had spent his life as a simple man, and would continue to do so, he would sleep on a concrete bench outside the dispensary so he was available at any time to help people.
In 1957, a major flu epidemic swept Karachi. Edhi was quick to react, setting up tents on the outskirts of the city to distribute free immunizations. Grateful residents donated generously to Edhi and so did the rest of Pakistan after hearing his deeds. With all the donation money, he bought the rest of the building his dispensary was located in. Edhi opened a free maternity centre and nursing school, and so Edhi Foundation was born.
Today not just in Pakistan, but in the Muslim world, Abdul Sattar Edhi has earned a reputation as being one of the most selfless and honorable human beings today. Despite his fame and reputation he continues to lead a simple life, he wears traditional Pakistani Shalwar Kameez, of which he only owns one or two, and he owns one pair of slippers, which he has supposedly worn for the last twenty years. This is despite the fact the Edhi Foundation has a $10 million budget, out of which he takes nothing for himself. His son Faisal once stated that when the Foundation was setting up in Afghanistan, local staff had purchased chairs for guests and the press when a new center was being opened, when Edhi arrived he was furious because the money that was spent on the chairs could have been used to help people. That night he slept on the clinic floor with the ambulance drivers.
The Edhi Foundation continues to grow. Dr Edhi, looking to the future, has stated that he aims to build a hospital every 5 km in Pakistan. Although he is given the title Maulana out of respect, he himself dislikes the title as he has never been to a religious school and he is not an Islamic cleric. He prefers being called 'Doctor' as he has received an honorary doctorate from The Institute of Business Administration in Pakistan for services to humanity. He also completed his MBBS Degree from Pakistan in 1981. He is also famous for being very shy about his popularity and when people personally praise him for his work. He also refuses to accept donations from governments or formal religious organizations, because according to him they set 'conditions'. Both General Zia-ul-Haq and the Italian government sent him generous donations, which he sent back.
In 1996 his biography, A Mirror to the Blind, was published.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, as of 1997, Edhi Foundation's ambulance service is the largest volunteer ambulance service in the world. He also personally holds the world record for having gone the longest time working without having taken a holiday. As of when the record was set, he has still not taken a single day off work.
- In 1986, he received Ramon Magsaysay Award for public service from Philippines.
- In 1988, he received Lenin Peace Prize from USSR (former) for services in the Armenian earth-quake disaster.
- In 1992, he was awarded Paul Harris Fellow from Rotary International Foundation.
- In 2000, Edhi was awarded the International Balzan Prize for Humanity, Peace and Brotherhood.
- On 26 March 2005, Edhi was presented with the Life Time Achievement Award by the World Memon Organization (WMO).
- On 11 November 2006, Edhi was presented with an Honorary Doctorate Degree by the Institute of Business Administration, Karachi (IBA).
- In 2008, he was listed in a poll by the The Financial Daily as a favorite personality.
- Nishan-e-Imtiaz from the Government of Pakistan. (1989)
- Human Rights Award by Pakistan Human Rights Society.
- Khidmat Award by Pakistan Academy of Medical Sciences.
- Shield of Honour by Pakistan Army (E & C).
- Silver Jubilee Shield by College of Physicians and Surgeons, Pakistan. (1962-1987)
- Recognition of meritorious services to oppressed humanity during the eighties by Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Government of Pakistan. 45 Years Of Selfless Service. (1989)
- The Social Worker of South Asia by Government of Sindh. (1989)
- Pakistan Civic Award by Pakistan Civic Society. (1992)