“The office is at Bolton Market , Sarafa Bazaar Karachi “… Is this place in Karachi.. really? How come I have never heard of it .. I, who was born and brought up in Karachi and lived 23 years of my life there. Anyways, we asked the driver if he knows the place and luckily he did have an idea. As me and my husband drove down the city, I am looking around and I see an area that I had never seen before…. The narrow, congested streets where only one car could go at a time..and then came a point that we had to get off the car and walk … As we walked across the corner of the street.. looking for a sign board of Edhi Centre… I was thrilled to see the man himself… in his simple attire.. sitting outside the office on a chair … My husband had the honor of shaking hands with him, while I said ‘Salam’ to him and walked inside… to see Mrs Bilquis Edhi sitting across a broken table busy with her noble cause.
This meeting with Abdul Sattar Edhi and Mrs Bilquis Edhi was a life changing experience for me. As we talked to Mrs Edhi, my heart was sinking and I had goose bumps all over my body . I was so surprised at the way she took it so casually… what sounded like horror stories to me was her everyday life.
Edhi centre finds aprox. 25 dead newborns EVERY month in the city of Karachi ONLY..this is only one ‘dark side’ of this ‘City of lights’.
These ‘unwanted’ babies are found in the worst of conditions… some partly eaten by stray cats and dogs… , some with cotton stuffed in their noses and mouth, some with ropes strangled around their necks … and some premature babies who deserve to be in incubators and not the garbage dump.
These ‘unwanted’ babies are mostly girls for reasons that include the fact that a preference for sons still exists in our society. Edhi centre installed jhoolas (cradles) in 1970s through out the country so people can leave their unwanted infants there. The cradles have a message written on them begging them to leave them there rather than killing them. These cradles were installed “4 decades” ago and yet 25 infants are killed every month!!
Doesn’t this all sound like the ‘Zamana-e-Jahliat’, when people used to bury their daughters alive for the same reason?
We the citizens of “The Islamic Republic of Pakistan” …. we call our nation a Muslim nation.. BUT are we even humans?? And what are we, the educated & privileged citizens doing? Some of us don’t even appreciate Edhi’s efforts..Edhi was not born with the idea of doing all the social work he is doing… he must have fought against all odds …gone out of his way… faced resistance and yet did all what he has done for humanity……
Is Edhi not a common man like all of us?? His foundation has saved 20,000 abandoned infants …. Can we not save only “one” infant and bring one of those jhoolas (cradles) in our homes???
I wrote the above around five years back when we visited the Edhi Adoption Centre. Violet was almost 2 year old then.. and after becoming parents ourselves, we wanted to make a difference in the life of at least one such abandoned yet precious daughters of our city.. But unfortunately that didn’t work out for us as it required a lot of effort and constant follow-up from our side. We were living far away, and Violet kept us pretty busy too.. and as time passed the frequency of my follow-up calls to their centre reduced from weekly to monthly. I later found out that they get so many applications that you really need to persistently follow-up. Further more they give preference to people who don’t have children of their own. Anyways, Dash and Jack Jack entered our lives and I couldn’t imagine myself taking care of another baby.. (for now at least.. we still think and talk about it.. so lets see…).
When we brought up this topic of adoption, most of the people in our families (except for a very few), were very skeptical. Questions like:
“Why do you need to adopt one when you can have your own?”
“How will the ‘Mahram‘ issue be resolved?” etc.
We had just two simple answers (and this is how we see it – you may have a different opinion.. )”Why not! why not make a difference in a child’s life who has no parents to look after him/her”. As for the Mahram issue, Islam solves it itself – the adopted child needs to be nursed by the adopting mother. Today there are many ways of inducing lactation either with the help of medications or naturally.
I hope one day I can make a difference in the life of a ‘Daughter of Karachi’ and bring her home.
(To find out more about the Edhi Foundation and their endless list of services visit their website. http://www.edhi.org/index.php/about-us/founder-profile