On this day in 1928, Abdul Sattar Edhi was born in Gujarat, western India. By the time he was 30, he had moved to what had then become Pakistan, and planted the seeds of what would grow into the world’s largest network of volunteer ambulances.
Google celebrates the life and work of Pakistan’s revered philanthropist with a new Doodle, picturing the bearded figure of Edhi standing near one of his signature emergency response vehicles, a family visiting a health clinic, and an open book.
Upon moving to Pakistan, Edhi took notice of the country’s poor health and education services and set out to improve conditions for the underprivileged. In 1951, he established the Edhi Foundation, funded by private contributions, to provide basic emergency services. In the decades since, Edhi ambulances have become a symbol of friendship and welcome compassion throughout Pakistan.
The foundation has expanded its work into other countries, as well, and has offered assistance to people affected by disasters like Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Edhi Foundation currently runs about 1,500 ambulances — making it the world’s largest volunteer fleet — while also operating orphanages, women’s shelters, rehabilitation clinics and other vital services to people in need.
In honoring the man who has come to be known as the Angel of Pakistan, Google suggests trying to help someone in need to mark the day of his birth. Edhi passed away in June of last year in the Pakistani city of Karachi. He would have turned 89 today.
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