Edhi Foundation


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About Edhi Foundation

Abdul Sattar Edhi established his first welfare centre and then the Bilquees Edhi Trust with a mere Rs. 5000. What started as a one-man show operating from a single room in Karachi is now the Edhi Foundation, the largest welfare organization in Pakistan. The foundation has over 300 centers across the country, in big cities, small towns and remote rural areas, providing medical aid, family planning and emergency assistance. They own air ambulances, providing quick access to far-flung areas.

In Karachi alone, the Edhi Foundation runs 8 hospitals providing free medical care, eye hospitals, diabetic centers, surgical units, a 4- bed cancer hospital and mobile dispensaries. In addition to these the Foundation also manages two blood banks in Karachi.

  • 20,000 abandoned babies have been saved

  • 40,000 qualified nurses have been trained

  • 50,000 orphans are housed in Edhi Homes

  • 1 million babies have been delivered in Edhi Maternity Centers

Edhi is to Karachi what Mother Teresa was to the poor of Calcutta. Edhi and wife Bilquees have spent a lifetime working for people and their welfare work to date remains unparalleled in Pakistan. They are both very private people who shun publicity. They have had little formal education, and are totally committed to the cause of helping the poor and needy.

The Dawn of Edhi Foundation

Edhi born in 1928 in Bantwa , Gujarat, India , his family belonged to the industrious Memon community. From a young age his mother taught Edhi to be kind towards others and to help the poor. In 1947 the family migrated to Pakistan and settled in Karachi. That was a time of great emotional trauma and social and political upheaval. Edhi became involved in social work and began working with welfare organisations and soon started his own dispensary, providing medical aid to the poor. He bought his first ambulance, an old van which he called the "poor man’s van" and went around the city providing medical help and burying unclaimed bodies. His van became his advertisement and soon he came to be known for his work with the poor. As a consequence, donations started pouring in and his operations expanded, employing additional nurses and staff. It was here that Edhi met his wife Bilquees who was a trainee nurse at the dispensary. They were married in 1966. Bilquees became the ideal wife for Edhi, totally committed to welfare work.

Edhi established his first welfare centre and then the Edhi Trust with a mere Rs. 5000 [$1000]. The Edhi Foundation grew as people began to recognize its humanitarian aims. In 1973 when an old apartment building collapsed in Karachi, Edhi’s ambulances and volunteers were the first to reach the scene and start rescue operations. From then, on, through the troubles in Karachi and all over the country, Edhi’s ambulances have been rescuing and taking the injured to hospitals and burying unclaimed bodies. They go to places where even government agencies hesitate to venture.

The Edhi Foundation is the first of its kind in South Asia that owns air ambulances, providing quick access to far-flung areas. Whether it is a train accident or a bomb blast, Edhi ambulances are the first to arrive. The foundation relies on the support of its 3, 500 workers and thousands of volunteers who form the backbone of the organization

Edhi's Founder

Despite the growth of the foundation, Edhi remains a very down to earth person. Dressed always in a grey homespun cotton, he has a hands on approach to his work, sweeping his own room and even cleaning the gutter if need be. Apart from the one room, which he uses for his living quarters, the rest of the building serves as his workplace in Mithadar, a locality of old Karachi that is full of narrow streets and congested alleyways. Adjoining their living room is a small kitchen where Bilquees usually prepares the midday meal. Next to it is a washing area where bodies are bathed and prepared for burial.

When Edhi is not travelling to supervise his other centres, a typical day for him begins at five in the morning with Fajr prayers. His work starts thereafter answering any calls for help, organizing and meeting people in need while afternoons are spent at various centres and hospitals all over the city. In the evening he dines with hundreds of poor at his "langar" [free community meals common among Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs] at another Edhi centre in the city. His Fridays are invariably spent at homes for the destitute children where Edhi personally helps bathe the ones who are physically handicapped, before joining them for Friday prayers. Occasionally, when he is able to, he also takes them out for picnics.

Assets of Edhi Foundation

In Karachi alone, the Edhi Foundation runs 8 hospitals providing free medical care, eye hospitals, diabetic centers, surgical units, a 4- bed cancer hospital and mobile dispensaries. In addition to these the Foundation also manages two blood banks in Karachi. As with other Edhi services, employed professionals and volunteers run these. The foundation has a Legal aid department, which provides free services and has secured the release of countless innocent prisoners.

Commissioned doctors visit jails on a regular basis and also supply food and other essentials to the inmates. There are 15 " Apna Ghar" ["Your Homes"] homes for the destitute children, runaways, and psychotics and the Edhi Foundation states that over the years 3 million children have been rehabilitated and reunited with their families thorough the Edhi network.

The foundation also has an education scheme, which apart from teaching reading and writing covers various vocational activities such as driving, pharmacy and para-medical training. The emphasis is on self-sufficiency. The Edhi Foundation has branches in several countries where they provide relief to refugees in the USA, UK, Canada, Japan, and Bangladesh. In 1991 the Foundation provided aid to victims of the Gulf war and earthquake victims in Iran and Egypt.

Vision of the Foundation

Edhi plans mass campaigns against narcotics, illiteracy, population control and basic hygiene. Edhi's wife Bilquees works in the areas of maternity centre management. She runs 6 nursing training schools in Karachi, which provide basic training courses. These centers have so far trained over 40,000 qualified nurses. Some 20,000 abandoned babies have been saved and about a million babies have been delivered in the Edhi maternity homes. Bilquees also supervises the food that is supplied to the Edhi hospitals in Karachi. The total number of orphans in Edhi housing is 50,000 and Edhi's two daughters and one son assist in the running of the orphanages and the automation of these institutions.

Edhi's vision is to create an institution that will carry on his life's work and survive for a long time to come. His dream is that of a Pakistan as a modern welfare state, which provides a safety net for the poor and needy while providing basic health and education with vocational skills. A welfare state Edhi feels is the only way to tackle Pakistan’s myriad social problems. He hopes that one day; Pakistan will be a model for other developing countries.

In 1985 Edhi received the Nishan-e-Imtiaz from the Government of Pakistan and in recognition of their services the Government of Philippines awarded Edhi & Bilquees the Magsaysay award.

The Edhi Foundation refuses to take any aid from the Government, thereby maintaining its independence. .

Services - Focus Areas

ü Baby Cradles

ü Cancer Research Hostel

ü Destitute Homes

ü Missing Persons Service

ü Welfare Centers

ü Edhi Homes for shelter of animals

ü High Ways Project ( 25 KILOMETER)

ü Grave Yard Services

ü Ware Houses

ü Edhi Emergency Posts

ü Field Ambulance Services

ü Prisoners Aid

ü Air Ambulance Services

ü Refugees Assistance

ü Marine And Costal Service

ü International Community Centers

ü Blood and Drug Banks

Baby Cradles (JHOOLAS)

At most of the emergency Edhi Centres, "Jhoolas" (baby cradles) are installed where unwanted infants can be left. These abandoned babies are then taken into custody and given shelter in Edhi Homes. Although initially Edhi was subject to a lot of pressure from several quarters on initiating Jhoola service, gradually the idea caught on.

Now people even come forward to hand over the babies themselves to officials at the Edhi Centers. Such infants are thereafter given in the care of suitable deserving families not having children of their own, for adoption. Mrs. Bilquees Edhi, the head of this service through a centralized system checks the credentials of the adopting parents and conducts a regular follow-up.

Babies left over in garbage dumps outside Karachi are air-lifted to the central nursery located in Karachi where medical and nursing care is provided before adoption. All documentation's of this service are kept confidential in order to save the child from facing social problems afterwards

Destitute Homes

Edhi Home also called as" Apna Ghar” (our home), is a home for the mentally ill destitute, for orphans and runaways. There are 13 such homes in the country out of which seven are in Karachi. About six thousand persons live in Edhi Homes. A destitute or homeless becomes a member of Edhi's family once he enters its premises. All boarding, lodging, clothing, and logistic arrangements are entirely free. If a person dies within these homes, the burial arrangements are made by the Foundation according to the religious rites of the deceased (Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Christian, or any other religion).

In Edhi Homes, there is a team of specialists to deal with particular problems of the residents. It is supported by a small staff. The residents are encouraged and trained to look after their personal needs themselves. This inculcates in them the spirit of self-help, and keeps them engaged in beneficial activities. In-charge of one of the Edhi Homes for the orphans and runaways, says" Encouraging children to do their own work gives them self-respect and makes them feel that the benefits they get in return are not charity but reward for their efforts".

Welfare Centers

The Welfare Centers of the Foundation are located in all the big cities and towns of Pakistan. The prime function of these centers is to extend all services of the Foundation to the needy persons at their door-steps. Plans are under way to extend their numbers. Once these centers come into operation, ninety percent of Pakistan 's population is expected to be covered by the Foundation's activities. These welfare centers act as “Service Counters “for the need of the suffering masses. They are constantly engaged in multifarious activities directly or indirectly benefiting the local community

High Ways Project (25 KILOMETER)

Under this project, it is planned to construct five hundred Edhi Centers in order to cover a sizeable population on all highways and major link-roads of Pakistan in a properly phased fashion. The existing centers provide first aid to accident victims and arrange for their speedy transfer to the nearby hospitals. More-over, these centers are being used for providing medical facilities in rural and semi-urban areas.

Also they provide ambulance service at nominal charges, facility for vaccinating new-born babies and children against diseases, and other welfare services. The dispensary and mobile dispensary at each centre cater for medical assistance to approximately two hundred and fifty patients daily.

On completion of the proposed project each Centre will have three ambulances, a four-bedded emergency unit, a permanent dispensary and a mobile dispensary for field operations. All Centers will be linked with wireless sets. Each centre is estimated to cost Rs. One million giving a total project cost of Rs. Five hundred million. Work has started on this project and sixty permanent and one hundred and twenty five temporary centers have already started functioning.

Work is also underway to include the establishment of additional Edhi Homes for the destitute, dispensaries, centers for rehabilitation of heroin addicts, ambulance centers and rural welfare centers. Acquisition of additional ambulance aircraft's is also in hand to provide a speedy service between these centers.

Ware Houses

Voluntary contributions in kind, which include clothing, edibles, medicines, dry rations are received throughout Edhi Centre's network. Through voluntary contributions from Pakistan and abroad, Warehouses were established in big cities like Karachi, Islamabad, and Multan. Five of these Warehouses are kept ready round the clock with provision of tents, dry rations, bedding, blankets, baby milk powder, utensils, etc., to move into action immediately in times of emergencies.

These Warehouses deliver items to refugee camps, at the site of any natural calamity, riots, fires and accidents, etc. Through these Warehouses regular supplies have been provided to refugees from Kashmir, Afghanistan, Bosnia and countries like Somalia, Kuwait, Bangladesh and flood affected areas in Pakistan etc.

Field Ambulance Services

Thousands of persons are disabled or killed in minor or major road accidents throughout Pakistan. After any major accident, the seriously injured persons lie on the site for several hours waiting for shifting to the nearest hospital. Often, delay and apathy cause loss of valuable lives, leaving many others injured, crippled and handicapped.

Edhi Foundation has raised the largest single fleet of Ambulances in the country with an un-paralleled record of quick response for the affectees of any disaster. Its nation-wide network equipped with the latest communication system now covers the remotest areas of Pakistan. A fleet of over four hundred ambulances, field mobile units and rescue units, which comprise this network, are maintained in a state of readiness to meet any emergency in the shortest possible time anywhere in Pakistan.

Air Ambulance Services

The Foundation has set up a helicopter and fixed wing aircraft-based emergency service centered at Karachi to supplement the field services. Two aeroplanes and one helicopter have already been acquired.

The Foundation plans to attract more funds for acquisition of five additional aircraft helicopters, within the next three years. Pakistan Army Aviation has already trained two pilots. Additional assistance on subsequent training of pilots will be requested from time to time. Oil companies have expressed willingness to provide fuel and lubricants on gratis basis. The Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan has waived all licensing, registration, and other fees for the Air Ambulance Service. Wider coverage and the following goals are being achieved with the assistance of Edhi Air Ambulances:

Evacuation of serious casualties from the sites of accidents, riots and calamity affected areas.

Transportation of Physicians and Specialists to remote areas. Experience indicates that even volunteer surgeons cannot be expected to travel twelve to eighteen hours by road as required in many cases. An air ambulance addresses this problem and enables full utilisation of the volunteer capacity available to the Foundation. Inter-hospital transfer of patients requiring specialist's treatment and immediate attention.

ü Quick transportation of blood and human vital organs.

ü Search and rescue of stranded people in deserts, mountains, floods and coastal areas.

ü Geological surveys of underground water in the famine-stricken areas of Thar, Chohistan and Utthal.

ü Medical and other assistance to companies/organizations carrying out exploration/research in remote areas of the country.

ü Air-dropping of food supplies for stranded people on ships, and in areas affected by wars and calamities.

Marine and Costal Service

Having developed the nation-wide network of ground ambulances supported by Air ambulance, Edhi Foundation has set up a separate establishment to extend its services in coastal areas as well.

Edhi Marine service caters for the following:

ü Recovering dead bodies in cases of drowning through properly framed divers.

ü Air-dropping of food to the entrapped ships at Arabian Coast.

ü Establishment of watch towers with provision of life jackets and inflatable

ü Rescue services in rivers, lakes and dams of the country.

ü Advanced warning signals for tourists in coastal areas

Blood & Drug Banks

Provision of blood in order to save human lives remains an essential element of emergency services. In major accidents, natural calamities and bomb blasts, etc., blood is supplied to the needy on an emergency basis.

All welfare centers of major cities in Pakistan regularly keep an updated list of donors of all blood groups and conduct campaigns for enlisting more donors for collection of blood.

Blood is pooled in hospitals from the volunteer donors and is provided free of cost in cases of heart surgeries and other major operations to poor patients. Two Blood Banks, one at Karachi and the other at Mirpur, have proper facilities for storing and screening blood, from where hundred of pints of screened blood is being regularly dispensed to the government hospitals.

Cancer Research Hostel

During 1980, realising the needs of poor cancer patients in the city who were pouring in from up-country the Foundation developed a separate project for the establishment of a cancer hostel near Agha Khan Hospital, Karachi. Suitable premises have been purchased to house 50 cancer Patients with treatment facilities. This Centre acts as an extension bay of Radiotherapy and Oncology Department of Jinnah Post-Graduate Medical Centre, and provides terminal care and treatment to poor cancer patients of both sexes of all ages with indoor and outdoor facilities. The radio-therapy and diagnostic oncology is taken care by the experts of Jinnah Post-Graduate Medical Centre, while all other remaining medical facilities are provided within the Cancer Research Hostel. Plans are under way to extend this facility with an additional one hundred and fifty beds at Karachi. Poor patients who can not bear their travel expenses are provided railway tickets making it easier for them to reach the cancer hostel.

Missing Persons Service

Because of social problems a large number of children leave their homes or get separated from their families during emergencies. Similarly, mentally handicapped people who can't get back to their homes, wander around the streets. Edhi Foundation either uses its own wireless network, state radio and T.V. channels or arranges local announcements, advertisements in the press, and thereby manages to return thousands of such people to their homes.

Similarly, unidentified dead bodies are kept in cold mortuaries and all efforts are made to identify the next of kin. This service is also available to Pakistanis living abroad and is being co-ordinate through Pakistan Embassies or offices of the Foundation abroad.

Edhi Homes for Shelter of Animals

Edhi Homes were originally meant to provide services to the distressed and ailing destitute. Soon, however, animals those were cruelly treated by their owners and had become lame or crippled or badly wounded, started ending up in Edhi Centers. These also include missing animals and unwanted house pets which have no other place to go except Edhi shelters. In view of the increasing number of such animals, Edhi Foundation established a separate treatment unit which has now grown up into a small zoo. Veterinary doctors look after these animals along with other volunteer staff at Super Highway, Karachi. In addition, another similar facility is established at Korangi, Karachi. These animals include peacocks, owls, deers, monkeys, horses, mules, cats, and a number of domestic birds.

Graveyard Services

Edhi Foundation has the largest net-work for the burial of unclaimed and burials of dead bodies in Pakistan. Separate grave yards are established in cities like Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and New York. Mr. Edhi, perhaps, holds the world record for giving the last prescribed bath (Ghusal) with his own hands to about 20,000 unclaimed dead bodies and for arranging their burial.

Metropolitan Corporations of all big cities in Pakistan like Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi have made annual contracts with Edhi Foundation for burial of unidentified dead bodies recovered from drowning, homicides, and accidents.

Coffin cloth and coffin boxes are provided free of cost to those families who cannot afford or manage burial rites themselves. Non-Muslims are provided services according to their own religious rites with the assistance of a church or local temple. In addition to the above, large air conditioned cold mortuaries have been established at Karachi to keep unidentified bodies for a couple of days, and perform burial rites if the next of kin is not traceable. Edhi grave yard services also provide facilities for burial and transportation of dead bodies from overseas.

Edhi Emergency Posts

Edhi Emergency Posts have been established at National and Provincial Capitals including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Multan. The aims these posts are to:

ü Reach the site of emergency within minutes

ü Launch mass campaign against social evils like Narcotics, Aids, and awareness for Diarrhoea, Immunisation and Family Planning programmes etc.

ü Provide routine emergency coverage to public gatherings and processions.

ü Act as a focal point for civil defence in time of need.

ü Provide guidance to the passers-by in locating their required address.

ü Assist illiterate people for filling in different forms pertaining to Banking and Identity Cards etc. and help them in letter-writing.

ü Organize local volunteers in social welfare activities.

ü Extend other services of Edhi Foundation to door-steps of the needy families.

Prisoners Aid

Following services besides legal aid are provided by Edhi Foundation to prisoners in different jails and remand homes

ü Food supplies. (Borstal and Central Jails)

ü Medical Facilities. ( Karachi Central Jail)

ü Gifts (on national events) on yearly basis.

ü Distribution of books and stationery.

ü Recreation. (Sports, TV, etc.)

ü Provision of items of daily use like wall clocks, articles of clothing and blankets, etc.

ü Ambulance services.

ü Securities and bonds for release of prisoners involved in minor crimes.

Refugees Assistance

Edhi Foundation has been providing services to the refugees of different countries forced to take shelter in Pakistan. Refugees belonging to the following countries are among the beneficiaries:

1. Afghanistan

2. Kashmir

3. Bosnia

4. Iraq

5. Burma

6. Nepal

7. Bangladesh

8. Somalia

9. Uganda

International Community Centers

The work of Edhi Foundation has extended beyond Pakistan. Currently, branches of Edhi International Foundation are providing regular services in New York , Ontario , Dacca , Tokyo , Sydney , London , Dubai , while preliminary work for establishing branches in Afghanistan , India , Sri Lanka , Yemen and Russia has been completed. These International Community Centers look after the welfare of Asians abroad.

Their activities include:

Burial of dead bodies, financial and moral support to the needy people visiting foreign countries for medical treatment, assistance in restoring lost and runaway children to their families, co-ordination and distribution of relief aid outside Pakistan , and drug abuse rehabilitation service.

Collaboration with Other Organizations

Besides running its own fleet of ambulances, Edhi Foundation has been supporting other government institutions and non-governmental organisations in a variety of ways, keeping in view the larger interest of the masses.

A list of organisations receiving ambulances as donations from Edhi Foundation is given below:-

ü Ministry of Health, Sindh Ojha TB Sanatorium, Karachi

ü Civil Hospital, Hyderabad

ü TB. Centre, Kotri

ü Liaquat Medical Hospital, Jamshoro

ü Trust for Destitute People, Hyderabad

ü Memon Hospital, Hyderabad

ü Government Hospital , Shikarpur


Voluntary donations from individuals ranging from Rs. five to many hundreds of thousands of rupees support the Foundation's activities. The emphasis is on individual social commitment from the masses. Contributions are also made in kind, in the form of food, clothing, medicines, animal hides and skins. Medical supplies and technical support are also received from several non-governmental organisations.

The annual donations are fairly regular and reliable because they are broad based, not linked to narrow interest groups.

Most of the donations come from past beneficiaries of the Foundation's activities. Edhi Foundation raises funds from Pakistanis living abroad in thirteen different countries.

However, ninety percent of the donations come from within Pakistan. The value of the pure voluntary services is not quantified in the financial records, but it is a significant part of the organisation's strength. Support from larger organisations and business community is readily available, but tapped only occasionally and most judiciously in order to retain the deep private and personal commitment that has been critical to the success of this Foundation.

Donations from the government, religious organisations and relief agencies are not accepted. Abdul Sattar Edhi firmly believes that since the Foundation's work is for the" Awam " (Masses) ,the Awam should contribute towards its operations. Through this principle of self- reliance, he wishes to inspire the masses for welfare projects. Aid from government and foreign agencies, in Edhi's view, leads to undesirable interference and creates administrative bottlenecks in the organisation's work.

Cash donations are collected at the Edhi Centres and at Edhi Headquarters. Donations are also received by mail. Quite often Mr. Edhi launches fund raising campaigns and makes collections standing on pavements and busy road junctions. For his frequent appearance in this role, Edhi has become a familiar figure to the general public as a known champion of the noble cause. He has, on several occasions, gone to the streets, cap in hand to collect funds for treatment abroad of seriously ill patients.

Donations in kind are received at various centres of Edhi network including Edhi Centres, Homes, Edhi hospitals, maternity homes and the Headquarters.

All donations and record of accounts are audited properly through a firm of Chartered Accountants. The statements of accounts are presented to the Federal Government for grant of tax relief by Central Board of Revenue. Another system of internal check and audit of accounts on weekly basis is in operation within the system.

Contact Edhi Foundation


EDHI Head Office Sarafa Bazar, Boulton Market, Mithadar, Karachi.Ph: +92 (21) 2413232Fax: +92 (21) 2413232

Zonal Office Karachi Near Merewether Tower, Kharadar, Karachi.Phone: +92 (21) 2201261-62Fax: +92 (21) 2313434Email: edhikarachi@hotmail.com

Zonal Office Lahore 17-A Muslim Block, Allama Iqbal Town, Lahore.Ph: +92 (42) 5414211

Zonal Office Islamabad

Near Masjide-e-Shohada, Aabpara, Islamabad.Ph: +92 (51) 2827844

USA - Edhi Center USA Edhi international Foundation.

42-07 National street Corona, New York, 11368 USA

Tel: (718) 639-5120 Fax:(718) 335-1978 Toll Free# 1-888-899-EDHI (3344)

United Kingdom Edhi International Foundation, 316 Edgware Road, London W2 1DY, United Kingdom Tel: 02077232050 and Fax: 02072249774 Email: edhiuk@yahoo.com

Canada Canada Edhi Charitable Foundation, Inc. 257 Risebrough Circle. Markham, ON- L3R 3J3

Japan Japan Edhi International Foundation, RM 101 COPO Nikkei, 1-25 4-Chome, Minami-ohi Shinagawa -KU-Tokyo 140 Japan.

Australia Australia Abdul Sattar Edhi International Foundation, Level 20, Picadly tower, 133, Castle Reagh Street, Sydney 2000, Austrailia.

Tel: 02-2646499, 03-3767-7282 Fax: 03-3764-4395, 02-264-7337

Bangladesh Bangladesh Edhi International Foundation Inc, 2/2 Purana palton, 3 rd Floor, Dhaka - 1000, Bangladesh

More locations..

Web Links for more Info http://www.edhi.org



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