“The office is at Bolton Market, Sarafa Bazaar Karachi”, said the woman on the other side of the phone call.
Is this place in Karachi? How come I have never heard of it! I thought to myself, as I kept down the phone, perplexed.
I was born and raised in Karachi and lived 23 years there, yet I had never heard about the area. I asked our driver if he knows the place, and luckily, he did have an idea. Mohsin and I left for the site, and as I looked around and saw an area that I had never seen before. The narrow, congested streets where only one car could go at a time, and then it got to a point where 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 Center, I was thrilled to see the man himself, in his simple attire, sitting outside the office on a chair. Mohsin 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 sank, and I had goose bumps all over my body. I was so surprised at the way she spoke casually about what sounded like horror stories. To her, it was her everyday life.
Edhi centre finds approximately twenty-five dead newborns EVERY month in the city of Karachi ONLY, and this is only one ‘dark side’ of this ‘City of lights’.
These ‘unwanted’ babies are found in the worst of conditions. Some of them were partly eaten by stray cats and dogs, while others were stuffed with cotton in their noses and mouth to stop them from breathing. She said some have ropes strangled around their necks, and the premature babies who deserve to be in incubators do not survive the garbage dumps.
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 the 1970s throughout the country so people could 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, 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”, 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 that he has done for humanity.
Is Edhi not an ordinary 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) into our homes???
I wrote the above around five years back when we visited the Edhi Adoption Centre. Amna was almost two years old then, and after becoming parents ourselves, we wanted to make a difference in the life of at least one such abandoned yet precious daughter 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 lived far away, and Amna kept us pretty busy too. As time passed, my follow-up calls to their centre reduced from weekly to monthly. I later found out that they get so many applications that you need to follow up persistently. Furthermore, they give preference to people who don’t have children of their own. Anyways, Hamza and Hassan 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 let’s see.)
When we brought up this topic of adoption, most of the people in our families (except 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 – 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 I can make a difference in the life of a ‘Daughter of Karachi’ and bring her home one day.
(To find out more about the Edhi Foundation and its endless list of services, visit their website. http://www.edhi.org/index.php/about-us/founder-profile