Preventing Infanticide

- One man's legacy

Forty-eight years ago, philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi, placed a couple of cradles (or jhulas, as they are known in Urdu) around Karachi. He did so because a large number of infants were being killed or died as they were abandoned in the streets of the city.

Abdul Sattar Edhi was born in 1928. He devoted his life to make the world a better place. Not only for Pakistanis but those affected worldwide. In Pakistan, he rescued newborns from garbage dumps, gave a home to children and elders who had been abandoned, ran the world's largest free ambulance service, sheltered women fleeing violence and ostracization, rehabilitated drug addicts, offered solace to those suffering from mental health issues, fostered religious harmony, provided skills to those seeking employment, fed the hungry, searched for the missing and comforted families who lost loved ones.

During my time with the Edhi Foundation, the morgue in Sorab Goth received four infant bodies in the span of one week. Of the 25 000 newborn babies received by Edhi foundation in the last 50 years, an estimated 15 000 children have been placed in new homes. The unadopted children live under the care Edhi Foundation until they become independent. For these children, the Foundation becomes their family.

This is the case of Khurram, abandoned by his family due to his speech and hearing impediment. He grew with the support of the Foundation and works today as a welder building walkers for disabled children and senior citizens. A few years back, he married Bisma, a young woman also abandoned when she was seven. Today they have two daughters whose education is being supported by the Edhi Foundation.

On July 8 2016, Edhi passed away. And so, the world lost an individual whose name was synonymous with humanity and humility. Bilquis Edhi’s wife, continues her husband’s legacy. “Don’t kill, don’t kill, kill not, don’t kill, leave them, don’t kill,” Bilquis Edhi, repeatedly says. “Life is God’s property”.

Photo Essay by: Saima Hassan


Saima has dedicated almost two decades to working in more than 48 countries plagued by conflict, violence, poverty or injustice. Her international humanitarian and development experience include providing culturally sensitive psychological first aid and counselling, ensuring and protecting human and asylum seeker rights, combating sexual and gender-based violence, corporate governance and transparency as well as civil society capacity building.

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