Newspaper article International New York Times

Abdul Sattar Edhi, a Giant of Charity, Dies at 88

Newspaper article International New York Times

Abdul Sattar Edhi, a Giant of Charity, Dies at 88

Article excerpt

Mr. Edhi set up a foundation that runs nursing homes, orphanages, soup kitchens and family planning centers -- all free of charge -- as well as Pakistan's largest ambulance service.

Abdul Sattar Edhi, the Pakistani philanthropist whose name became synonymous with charitable causes and who achieved an almost saintly status in Pakistan, died on Friday in the southern port city of Karachi. He was 88.

His son Faisal said Mr. Edhi had been undergoing treatment for renal failure at the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation when he died.

The death was widely mourned in a country that is hungry for role models and heroes. To many, Mr. Edhi was known as the Father Teresa of Pakistan.

"We have lost a great servant of humanity," Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in a statement. "Abdul Sattar Edhi was the real manifestation of love for those who are socially vulnerable, impoverished, helpless and poor. If anyone deserves to be wrapped in the flag of the nation he served, it is him."

Mr. Edhi was known throughout Pakistan for his Edhi Foundation, which he single-handedly set up almost 60 years ago, starting with meager resources and then expanding through private donations. Today it operates nursing homes, orphanages, soup kitchens and family planning centers -- all free of charge -- as well as Pakistan's largest ambulance service. With his lush white beard, Mr. Edhi was known in the orphanages as Nana, or grandfather.

In a country where government-run services have been glaringly ill-equipped to deal with humanitarian crises, Mr. Edhi's social welfare system has become a trusted household name.

The ambulance service, with at least 1,500 vehicles, has become grimly familiar in Pakistan, whether ferrying people maimed in terrorist attacks or carrying those injured in natural disasters.

Mr. Edhi maintained an austere lifestyle. …

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