Bilquis Bano Edhi was born on the same day as Pakistan, 14 August 1947. Her life has been one of service and providing safe-havens for the poor and the destitute. She got married to Abdul Sattar Edhi at the age of 17.
Read more: Edhi: A noble philanthropist
The newlyweds only possessed a broken old car and a small dispensary. She often relates a story that on their honeymoon that she spent all her time tending to a young girl with head injuries left at the dispensary. Bilquis Bano Edhi is a humanitarian, a social worker and one of the most active philanthropists in Pakistan.
We never spread our hands, even if donations are low. We have faith in Allah and we keep working.
She heads the Bilquis Edhi Foundation, holds the honor of being awarded the prestigious ‘Hilal-e-Imtiaz’ and along with her husband, received the 1986 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service. She is also the recipient of the Lenin Peace Prize. Her charity runs many services in Pakistan, including a hospital and emergency service in Karachi.
The Edhi foundation refuses to take donations from governments. They turned down help from General Zia-ul-Haq and they did the same when the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered Rupees 1 crore to the Edhi foundation. After they took care of a deaf and mute Indian girl stranded in Pakistan for over ten years.
The Edhi foundation is the largest emergency service in Pakistan, but despite this, Bilquis Edhi has lived all her life in a simple two-bedroom home that she owned along with her husband. The home is actually a part of an orphanage that the Edhi foundation runs.
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Over the years, she has been visited by many of her orphans who were happily adopted, is often stopped and thanked by people who received much needed aid from the Edhi Foundation, and heard back from abused women whom she sheltered, trained as nurses and helped start a new life. Bilquis Edhi has won many awards, but she often comments that the greatest rewards she receives are the success stories of those helped by the Edhi Foundation.