Edhi Honored in Washington as ‘A Global Role Model for Philanthropy’
By C. Naseer Ahmad
The Pakistan Bank-Fund Staff Association and the World Bank South Asia Vice-Presidency honored Pakistan’s AbdusSattarEdhi as “A Global Role Model for Philanthropy” on September 27, 2016 at the World Bank. Edhi’s slogan “Live and Help Live” was memorialized with passion and purpose in Washington.
In his opening remarks, Mr Nasir Mahmood Khosa - World Bank Executive Director for Pakistan who represents Afghanistan, Algeria, Ghana, Iran, Morocco, Pakistan and Tunisia – provided a historical perspective. Noting Edhi’s start, MrKhosa said the he was “neither affluent nor influential.” Recalling him as an “angel of mercy” and the “messiah of Karachi”, Khosa highlighted Edhi’s role in “ensuring welfare of a nation state.” Discussing the enormous impact through the vast network of services, MrKhosa said that Edhi taught the nation “how to give.”
The event included the screening of the Documentary “I am Edhi, I am Pakistan” with some moving stories and images of the legendary figure whose passion to serve humanity also made Edhi known as the “Richest Poor Man” and the “Father of Service.”
World Bank Vice-President South Asia Region, Ms Annette Dixon led the panel discussion on Edhi’s contributions. Before joining the World Bank, Ms. Dixon served as the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Youth Affairs in New Zealand. During the discussion, Ms Dixon mentioned her conversation with a Pakistani cab driver who spends a few months in a rural area near Multan, Pakistan to volunteer in a school run by his relatives. From that conversation, Ms Dixon learned that the school operated by the cab driver’s relatives was inspired by Edhi’s exemplary leadership.
During the panel discussion, writer and a gifted story teller, Ms Salma Hasan Ali narrated her visit to Pakistan and a meeting with Edhi. Ali shared pictures from her visit to Edhi welfare facilities. One of the memorable pictures showcased the “jhoola” or the swing outside the Edhi facilities. She pointed out the importance of this artifact or structure because of the role it played in saving many children and their lives from death and destruction. From this part of the panel discussion, the audience learned about the no-nonsense style of Edhi whose simple life was completely absorbed in the service of fellow human beings. Ms Ali has been previously featured in the Washingtonian magazine “ Pakistan on the Potomac ”
Dr Ishrat Husain , currently Public Policy Fellow Woodrow Wilson Institute and former Governor State Bank of Pakistan as well as retired World Bank executive, gave an in-depth analysis of Edhi’s life and work. He said that Edhi “defied conventional wisdom.” Dr Husain informed the audience about Edhi’s global role helping victims of natural disasters like earthquakes and floods. “He even traveled to Africa, Middle East and to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina,” Dr Husain said.
MrJalil Abbas Jilani Pakistani Ambassador to the US, delivered the closing remarks to honor Edhi who was also remembered as the personal guardian of about 20,000 homeless children. Ambassador Jilani’s remarks on Edhi provided something more for the Pakistani nation to be proud of the national hero who passed away on July 8, 2016. Edhi was remembered as a man of outstanding integrity and devotion to his cause that started with the care of his ailing mother. The fact that Ambassador Jilani took the time to join those remembering Edhi is a testament to his own commitment to ably representing Pakistan with distinction.
The Pakistan Bank-Fund Staff Association and the World Bank South Asia Vice-Presidency reminded the audience that a few months before his death, a Huffington Post article described Edhi as perhaps “the world's greatest living humanitarian”. They further said that the “Edhi Foundation ran hospitals, ambulances, homeless shelters, rehab centers and orphanages across Pakistan and, for decades, provided a social safety net to multitudes living on the edge of existence.”