Edhi was born in 1928 in Bantva in the Gujarat, British India. When he was eleven, his mother became paralysed and later grew mentally ill and died when he was 19. His personal experiences caused him to develop a system of services for old, mentally ill and challenged people. Edhi and his family migrated to Pakistan in 1947. He initially started as a pedlar, later became a commission agent selling cloth in the wholesale market in Karachi. After a few years, he established a free dispensary with the help from his community. He later established a welfare trust, “Edhi Trust”.
Abdul Sattar Edhi was married in 1965 to Bilquis, a nurse who worked at the Edhi dispensary. The couple have four children, two daughters and two sons. Bilquis runs the free maternity home at the headquarters in Karachi and organises the adoption of illegitimate and abandoned babies.
Edhi Foundation runs the world’s largest ambulance service and operates free nursing homes, orphanages, clinics, women’s shelters, and rehab centres for drug addicts and mentally ill individuals. It has run relief operations in Africa, Middle East, the Caucasus region, eastern Europe and US where it provided aid following the New Orleans hurricane of 2005. In November 2011, Edhi was recommended for a Nobel Peace prize by the Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani. Abdul Sattar Edhi suffered renal failure as announced on 26 June 2013 at SIUT and needs kidney donation.
In the early 1980s he was arrested by Israeli troops while entering Lebanon. In 2006, he was detained in Toronto, Canada, for 16 hours. In January 2008, US immigration officials interrogated Edhi at the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York for over eight hours, and seized his passport and other documents. When asked about the frequent detention Edhi said “The only explanation I can think of is my beard and my dress.” In January 2009, Edhi was refused entry to Gaza by Egyptian authorities.
Honors and awards
- Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service (1986)
- Lenin Peace Prize (1988)
- Paul Harris Fellow from Rotatory International Foundation, (1993)
- Peace Prize from (USSR former) for services in the Armenian earthquake disaster, (1998)
- Largest Voluntary Ambulance Organization of the World – Guinness Book of World Records (2000)
- Hamdan Award for volunteers in Humanitarian Medical Services (2000) UAE
- International Balzan Prize (2000) for Humanity, Peace and Brotherhood, Italy
- Peace and Harmony Award (Delhi), 2001
- Peace Award (Mumbai), 2004
- Peace Award (Hyderabad Deccan), 2005
- Wolf of Bhogio Peace Award (Italy), 2005
- Gandhi Peace Award (Delhi),2007
- UNESCO Madan jeet sing Peace Award (Paris),2007
- Peace Award Seoul (South Korea), 2008
- Honorary Doctorate degree from the Institute of Business Administration Karachi (2006).
- UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize (2009)
- The Ahmadiyya Muslim Peace Prize for Advancement of Peace, 2010
- Peace Award (London), 2011
- Silver Jubilee Shield by College of Physicians and Surgeons, Pakistan, (1962–1987)
- The Social Worker of Sub-Continent by Government of Sind, Pakistan, (1989)
- Nishan-e-Imtiaz, civil decoration from Government of Pakistan (1989)
- Recognition of meritorious services to oppressed humanity during eighties by Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Government of Pakistan, (1989)
- Pakistan Civic Award from the Pakistan Civic Society (1992)
- Shield of Honor by Pakistan Army (E & C)
- Khidmat Award by Pakistan Academy of Medical Sciences
- Human Rights Award by Pakistan Human Rights Society