KARACHI: Bilquis Bano Edhi wife of Abdul Sattar Edhi, is a professional nurse and one of the most active philanthropists in Pakistan. She has been nicknamed, The Mother of Pakistan. She was born in 1947 in Karachi. She heads the Bilquis Edhi Foundation, and with her husband received the 1986 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service. Her charity runs many services in Pakistan including a hospital and emergency service in Karachi. Together with her husband their charity has saved over 16,000 unwanted babies.
It is true, as the saying goes: “There is a woman behind every man”. Bilquis Edhi is a woman of substance, for sure; and she has come a long way with Edhi for a cause that is simply great.
Bilquis Bano Edhi, wife of Abdul Sattar Edhi, is a humanitarian, a social worker and one of the most active philanthropists in Pakistan, holds the honor of being awarded the prestigious ‘Hilal-e-Imtiaz’, and 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.
Bilquis Edhi – the young lass who was not very good at studies, joined the nurses training course at the Edhi Nurses Training Centre when she was in the 8th grade. Later Abdul Sattar Edhi proposed to her and they got married in April 1966. Since then, she has been working with the Edhi Foundation – A Foundation which was started by Abdul Sattar Edhi with the mission to provide aid to Pakistan’s poor and down-trodden has become Pakistan’s major relief organization under the leadership of the husband and wife – team of Abdul Sattar and Bilquis Edhi. Today, in addition to services provided in Pakistan, Edhi foundation is a major resource for assisting victims of disaster internationally.
Abdul Sattar Edhi’s possessions at the time of his marriage were a broken old car and a small dispensary. There was a maternity home on the first floor with 6-7 beds, a small room – 6’ X 6’ on the ground floor which served as an office and a similar room on the first floor. There wasn’t much else but even in those days when the newly wed couple had very limited resources, people used to leave their kids with them and Bilquis Edhi used to look after them.
Bilquis Edhi vividly remembers her first major experience at Edhi Foundation, when during the war; the bombings resulted in a number of brutally mutilated bodies which she had to wash for burial. At times only an arm, leg or head was recovered. She, along with about 60-70 workers including voluntary workers, collected and then washed these bodies.
Her current responsibilities include looking after the ladies section, giving away children for adoption – mostly looking after women-specific and children related sections throughout Pakistan. Her two daughters also work closely with me. She regularly visits Edhi Homes all over Pakistan to monitor their activities and give suggestions and recommendations on how she feels the work should be done. She is also instrumental in making Edhi Homes ‘Centers of Excellence’ – in the true sense of the word.
With regard to child adoption, she makes sure the criteria are fulfilled to approve / disapprove of couples who want to adopt a child. Couples who want to adopt a child are interviewed by Bilquis Edhi. Her criteria for adoption are that even after 10-12 years of marriage the couple is still childless, prospective father’s salary should be reasonable, prospective father should not have alcohol or drug-related problems, prospective mother’s age should be younger than 50 and the couple should own a house. Her foundation doesn’t give children to couples who keep changing their house – keep moving from one place to another. Kids who are physically or mentally disabled are cared for by Edhi Foundation. They have a separate section for them where they clean them, feed them, play with them etc. The kids remain with them for the rest of their lives. Aside from the disabled children, the other children who don’t get adopted do not pose any problem, whatsoever. Edhi Foundation has over 4,000 applications in hand. They don’t have enough kids to give to people. So they are careful in selecting prospective parents. They have a ‘shariat-nama’ in place which they make the parents sign where it is explicitly mentioned that in case of separation between the parents, the Centre will reclaim the child or let the child stay with the mother.
Edhi Foundation keeps expanding by adding new welfare services every now and then Bilquis Edhi sees Pakistan’s future as bright, provided if people feel the pain and work for a better future. When she goes abroad with Edhi, they come back with lots of ideas. The couple dreams of the day when welfare facilities in Pakistan would be comparable to those we find abroad. She feels that this seems to be a distant dream. She said: “We don’t even have clean drinking water here. Load shedding is an ongoing problem. After the recent oil spill [in Karachi] when the oil tanker broke in half, people were saying that our country had gone back 20 years in time. As far as I am concerned in the last 55 years we have not moved forward. We are still where we were 55 years ago.”
Abdul Sattar Edhi and Bilquis Edhi, both think of things for the future. She told us that when Edhi comes up with an idea he writes it down. In 1976, the couple was involved in an accident which took place near a village with no airport or landing strip nearby. Around that time a building collapsed in Karachi – Bismillah Building. At that time Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was in power. Noticing Edhi’s absence from the scene of the disaster he inquired as to his whereabouts upon which he was told of the situation. Bhutto immediately dispatched a small airplane to pick them up. Edhi was admitted to the Civil Hospital in Karachi where shortly after gaining consciousness; he remarked that he would also like to buy a plane. Bilquis Edhi asked how he will be able to afford a plane as his current situation was such that if he put his hand in the pocket for some loose change, thread used to come out instead. However, Edhi never got disheartened and pulled along with conviction and dedication. By the Grace of Allah, they now have a plane, helicopters everything.
Bilquis Edhi is honored to be the life-partner of a person whose love for humanity is ‘larger than life’. She regards him as a good man – Albeit a little short tempered but good at heart. The couple has still not built their own house yet. Bilquis Edhi fondly remembered her first 4-5 years after marriage when she used to live on the roof. Later, after the birth of her four kids, she moved to her mother’s house. Her mother looked after the kids. On a daily basis she used to shuffle between her house and the Edhi Centre. After the kids grew up and got married, Bilquis Edhi’s mother passed away. The couple spends their days and nights at the Edhi Centre. In their 36-37 years of married life, there may have been at least 36 occasions when they never even came home at night. Even now when their children want to see him, they bring lunch from their home and come and eat with them.
Faisal, Kubra, Zeenat and Almas – the Edhis have an educated progeny, bright young people. After Bilquis and Abdul Sattar, they will look after the Edhi Foundation and carry the torch forward.
Bilquis Edhi has spent her life for a noble cause and she continues to do so. She is lucky as a human-being and even luckier as a woman for she got a helping hand in the form of her husband. Abdul Sattar and Bilquis complement each other – in the very true sense of the word.
Courtesy: Edhi Welfare Organisation
Hemu Kalani – A true martyr of Sindh
KARACHI: Sindh has always been blessed with thousands of heroic characters at the time of independence and the sons of soil preferred death for the sake of safety and security of their motherland. One such heroic character is Hemu Kalami.
Hemu Kalani son of Pesumal Kalani and Jethi Bai was born in a Jain family of Sukkur, Sindh on March 23, 1923. His father Pesumal was a doctor by profession. Hemu completed his initial education from Tilak High School, Sukkur from where he passed his matriculation in 1942. Hemu was a nationalist since early age.
Hemu Kalani was greatly admired by the struggle and engagements of his uncle late Dr Mangh Ram Kalani who was a prominent congress leader. Hemu became member of ‘Swaraj Sena’ (a student organization) which was affiliated with the All-India Students Federation (AISF).
As a young boy, Hemu Kalani led the youth of his town and campaigned for boycott of foreign good and convinced people to use Swadeshi goods. Later, he started revolutionary activities and took part in protests aimed at kicking out the British. He started joining political gatherings, demonstrations, strikes, raising slogan of ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ and ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.
In October 1942, the revolutionary group Swaraj Sena received secret information that a train was carrying weapons that would be used against freedom fighters in Sindh. Hemu and his friends decided not to allow/derail the train near Sukkur however, according to historians, Hemu was held by the British.
Later, the British authorities subjected Hemu Kalani to third degree torture to reveal names of his other companions but he never opened up his mouth and bravely bore the torture. He took the blame upon himself citing what he did was justified in retaliation what British were doing in crushing the freedom struggle with arms and ammunitions.
Sindh was under Martial Law and Hemu Kalani’s case was referred to Martial Law Court at Hyderabad/Sukkur where he was sentenced life imprisonment for treason against the British Empire.
Hemu’s lawyer Sattar Pirzada made an offer to Kalani’s uncle Dr Manga Ram “If Hemu could sign a written apology, the British would relax his death and he simply refused”. The people of Sindh filed a petition before Viceroy for Hemu Kalani’s mercy however the condition of mercy was to tell names of other co-conspirators which he refused to shared. Hence, Hemu Kalani was hanged on January 21, 1943.
Jalal Chandio – King of Yaktara, Chapri, Sindhi music
KARACHI: There are only few people especially those associated with the music industry who became so famous that their posters, art and songs are played even after their death. Jalal Chandio, king of yaktara, chapri (musical instruments) is one of them who is still alive in the hearts and minds of people of Pakistan particularly Sindh.
Jalal Chandio son of Haji Faiz Muhammad Chandio was born in 1944 in a small village namely Phul, Moro, district Naushehro Feroz. His father owned a cattle farm and wanted his son Jalal to get education.
With no interest towards education, Jalal Chandio was sent to New Jatoi (Nawan Jatoi), the hometown of former premier Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, to learn tailoring. However, he quit tailoring and started shepherding his cattle and croons.
With his interest in singing, Jalal’s parents sent him to Ghotki district to learn music under the supervision of Ustad Ali Gul Mahar where he learnt basics of music and started performing at shrines of various Sufis of the area. He had a loud voice which needed no loudspeakers to perform while his unique style of playing Yaktara and Chapri was liked very much.
Jalal Chandio also introduced the trend of Farmaish, a unique style of pronouncing names of his listeners in his singing that also gained too much fame.
In 1970, a private company – Paras Audio Cassette – released his first cassette album which included his song هل نه مٺو ايڏي لوڏ ڪري . The song gained popularity and made him singer of the Sindh province. After that he also made his entry in Radio Pakistan and Television and started performing live in the shows.
Before Jalal Chandio, the population of rural areas used to listen to Indian old songs and Pakistani Punjabi songs however Jalal Chandio’s songs replaced the music and made his way to almost every house, tractors and trucks. The love of his listeners reached at the extreme level that his posters could be seen on trucks and tractors till today.
In 1985, a famous film producer Shah Asad made a film – Jalal Chandio – on life of Mr Jalal Chandio in which he played a leading role. The film touched the highest peak of popularity and earned extraordinary revenue boosting Sindhi film industry.
Mr Jalal Chandio also influenced many singers following his unique style of singing that included Rubina Hyderi, Taj Mastani. He also has a number of music students (shagirds) in Siraiki districts of Punjab and Balochistan districts. He had released thousands of audio cassettes in his life.
Being the spiritual follower of Mahdi Shah, Jalal Chandio performed on Urs of almost all the Sufi saints including Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, Sachal Sarmat etc. He received many awards among which the prominent was Latif Award from Sindh’s culture department. Jalal Chadio died on January 10, 2001 following kidney failure. He is buried in his native town Phul, Naushehro Feroz.
Hoshu Sheedi – ‘Marsoon, Marsoon Sindh Na Deson
KARACHI: Pakistan has been blessed with hundreds of brave people who sacrificed their precious lives to ensure safety of the motherland. One such character is General Hosh Muhammad Sheedi commonly known as Hoshu Sheedi who raised the world-famous slogan and laid down his life while fighting with British.
The people of Sindh attaches emotional attachment with General Hosh Muhammad Sheedi Qambrani who chanted slogan ‘Marsoon, Marsoon Sindh Na Deson’ [We would die before giving up Sindh].
Even these days, if anyone talks against division of Sindh, the people get emotionally charged and become ready for any kind of sacrifice for their motherland.
Hosh Muhammad was born in 1801. He belonged to Sheedi family of African-origin while his father was an employee at the house of then ruler of Sindh – Mir Fateh Mohammad Talpur -. Before joining the army, Hosho also worked at the residence of Talpurs.
General Hosh Muhammad Sheedi, then, made supreme commander of Sindh’s Talpur army led by Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur.
As the British army conquered the Khairpur Mirs fort, a number of people wanted to surrender before the British ruler however Hosh Muhammad Sheedi was the only one who refused to do and decided to fight.
With smaller number of troops, Hoshu Sheedi vigorously fought with the British army with bravery during Talpur rule in Sindh in the battle of Miyani or Dubbo in 1843. In between the fighting, Hoshu Sheedi said that “Marsoon, Marsoon Sindh Na Deson” “Even though we will die but we won’t give you Sindh”. Hosho lost his life while fighting for Sindh on March 24, 1843.
British commanding offier Sir Charles James Napier was inspired by the bravery and his love for his motherland and buried him with full military honours in Dubee near Tando Jam Road, Hyderabad, Pakistan. Hosho is considered a Sindhi hero. The historical mausoleum of Hosho Sheedi is located in Dubee, a small village which is some 10 kilometers far from Hyderabad. The purpose of the mausoleum is to pay tribute to the war martyrs and it was declared as heritage site by the Sindh government.
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