LONDON: Google marked the 89th birth anniversary of the late social worker Abdul Sattar Edhi on Tuesday, with a doodle depicting his institution’s welfare services. The doodle shows the “Angel of Mercy” Edhi, in his typically simple attire with an Edhi ambulance and Edhi Home shelter in the background. “The Edhi foundation has helped thousands of people around the world in times of need, including survivors of Hurricane Katrina and thousands of Pakistani orphans,” Google said. “In celebration of Abdul Sattar Edhi, let’s all lend a hand to someone in need today.” Google regularly changes the colourful logo on its home page to mark anniversaries or significant events or to pay tribute to popular members of the community. Born to a family of traders in Gujarat, Edhi arrived in Pakistan in 1947. The state’s failure to help his struggling family care for his severely ill mother was his decisive turning point towards philanthropy. Edhi opened his first clinic in Karachi in 1951. “Social welfare was my vocation, I had to free it,” he says in his autobiography, ‘A Mirror to the Blind’.
Edhi and his team successfully created a number of maternity wards, morgues, orphanages, shelters and homes for the elderly – all aimed at helping those who cannot help themselves. The most prominent symbols of the foundation – its 1,500 ambulances – are deployed with unusual efficiency to the scene of terrorist attacks that tear through the country with devastating regularity. Revered by many as a national hero, Edhi created a charitable empire, mainly with private donations. “He never established a home for his own children,” his wife Bilquis, who manages the foundation’s homes for women and children, told agencies in an interview last year. What he has established is something of a safety net for the poor and destitute, mobilising the nation to donate and help take action – filling a gap left by a lack of welfare state. Edhi was nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize, and appeared on the list again last year – put there by Malala Yousafzai, Pakistan’s teenage Nobel laureate.