Who is Abdul Sattar Edhi?

Google honours award-winning philanthropist from Pakistan

(Image credit: AAMIR QURESHI / Getty)

Today marks the 89th birthday of Pakistan's humanitarian and philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi, who founded the world's largest volunteer ambulance network.

Known as the "Angel of Mercy" and "Pakistan's Father Teresa", he dedicated six decades of his life to the Edhi Foundation, which he oversaw together with his wife, Bilquis.

He was born in 1928 in the small village of Bantva, near Junagadh, in then British-ruled India, but moved to Karachi, Pakistan, shortly afterwards. His mother died when he was 19 and he decided to not finish school, later saying "that the world of suffering became his tutor", says the Daily Telegraph.

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Instead, he dedicated his life to helping the poor through medical resources and education and in 1951, he created the Edhi Foundation, using private donations, as he himself was penniless.

Over the past 60 years, Pakistan's largest welfare organisation, with the slogan "Live and help live", has provided care for 50,000 orphans, trained more than 40,000 nurses and runs the world's largest ambulance service, with more than 1,500 vehicles throughout the country.

At the time of his death last July, after kidney failure, Edhi was a registered guardian to almost 20,000 children.

The reach of his work extends beyond Pakistan's borders. In 2005, the foundation donated $100,000 to Hurricane Katrina victims in the US.

Edhi also supported and promoted working opportunities for women, with 500 of the 2,000 foundation employees being female.

His successful portfolio led to countless awards, including the Gandhi Peace Award, the London Peace Award, the Unesco Madanjeet Singh Prize, the Seoul Peace Award and the Hamdan Award for Volunteers in Humanitarian Medical Service. He was also called "Maulana Edhi", a high praise title for a religious scholar.

Google is marking his birthday with a Google Doodle, saying: "In celebration of Abdul Sattar Edhi, let's all lend a hand to someone in need today."

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