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Pakistani humanitarian Bilquis Edhi dies : NPR


Bilquis Edhi watched over abandoned children in cradles at the Edhi Orphanage in Karachi in 2010. Over the years, thousands of children have been left in the network of cradles outside the Edhi centers that she has implemented across Pakistan.

Behrouz Mehri/AFP via Getty Images


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Pakistani humanitarian Bilquis Edhi dies : NPR

Bilquis Edhi watched over abandoned children in cradles at the Edhi Orphanage in Karachi in 2010. Over the years, thousands of children have been left in the network of cradles outside the Edhi centers that she has implemented across Pakistan.

Behrouz Mehri/AFP via Getty Images

Bilquis Edhi, a renowned Pakistani humanitarian, died Friday in Karachi at the age of 74.

Edhi worked side by side with her late husband Abdul Sattar Edhi, the founder of Pakistan’s best-known social service network, and was a major force in helping Pakistan’s poorest, especially women and children.

A nurse by training, she ran maternity wards and set up cribs outside Edhi Foundation centers across Pakistan, where women who gave birth to unwanted babies could anonymously leave their newborns, knowing that they would be supported.

“Don’t kill,” read handwritten signs above the cribs. “Let the baby live in the cradle. Don’t kill it. … Let the baby live.”

Pakistani humanitarian Bilquis Edhi dies : NPR

Bilquis Edhi and her husband Abdul Sattar Edhi sit together in Karachi in 2010.

Behrouz Mehri/AFP via Getty Images


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Behrouz Mehri/AFP via Getty Images

Pakistani humanitarian Bilquis Edhi dies : NPR

Bilquis Edhi and her husband Abdul Sattar Edhi sit together in Karachi in 2010.

Behrouz Mehri/AFP via Getty Images

“Most of the babies that are left in the crib on our doorstep are girls,” Bilquis Edhi told NPR’s Julie McCarthy in 2009. plastic bags.”

Over the years, the Edhis have helped place thousands of babies – and older children – with adoptive families in Pakistan, earning Bilquis Edhi the nickname “the mother of Pakistan”. Her son Faisal Edhi told Pakistani news channel Geo on Friday: “We will continue our mother’s mission.”

On Twitter, Shahbaz Sharif, Pakistan’s new prime minister, called Edhi’s death a “huge loss to the nation”.

She and her husband of five decades have lived on the premises of their organization’s offices in downtown Karachi, overseeing a network of services including ambulances, emergency relief, homeless shelters, orphanages, burial of unclaimed bodies, animal shelters and blood banks.

Despite death threats and attacks on their services, the couple remained dedicated to their charity work. The cribs remained in place in defiance of criticism from religious conservatives who claimed their presence encouraged out-of-wedlock births.

“They call him an infidel, saying he doesn’t say his prayers,” Bilquis said of her husband’s critics in 2015. “What we do should be done by the government and should be appreciated, but at the Instead, we are blamed.”

After Abdul Sattar Edhi’s death in 2016, Bilquis Edhi and their children continued the charity network that began shortly after the establishment of Pakistan in 1947 as an individual ambulance service in Karachi. She was a young nurse when she and her husband married in 1966.

“Everyone said I was crazy to marry her,” Bilquis Edhi told NPR’s McCarthy. “Friends joked that while they were going for picnics he took me to cemeteries.”




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