Children having their faces painted by a group of volunteers at the Edhi child home.–Fahim Siddiqi/White Star.

KARACHI: “Eid brings a lot of visitors and this is what I like the most about this day. I wish my mother could also come and see me. But I know she can’t because she doesn’t know where I am,” said Shabbir, a 13-year-old boy living with 150 other inmates at the Edhi Child Home.

“The same is true of most kids here. Their parents do not know their whereabouts.”

The teenager was one of the few boys who could recall the chain of events that brought them to the Edhi home. “My mother scolded and beat me up when I stole a small bicycle. I left home feeling dejected and somehow boarded a train and came to Karachi. And while I was loitering at a shrine at Clifton, Edhi staff spotted me and brought me here,” he says.

The children seemed excited as they were busy playing games with a volunteer group on the third day of Eid when the Dawn team visited the facility for the destitute set up along the Edhi Village with 1,500 boys and men. The facilities are located 56 kilometres from Karachi’s city limits on the Superhighway.

“Eid is a fun time as we play music, get gifts and engage in different games with visitors. We had a wonderful time yesterday, too, as a stage performance was held here,” says seven-year-old Saddam who, with his younger sister, was abandoned by his father.

Bilal, an eight-year-old kindergarten student, was left by his uncle at the facility as there was no one to look after him at home though he has elder siblings.

“My mother is dead while my father is handicapped. None of my siblings have yet come to see me,” he says.

Similar was the case with five-year-old Danish who was looking at his shining wrist watch he had got a day earlier at the show held on the facility’s premises. The boy, with his brother, was left by his mother after she married another man. “I want to be a good human being,” he said smilingly when asked what he would like to be as a grownup.

Almost half of the children are admitted to the facility by their close relatives mainly for financial reasons, home conflict, death of parents or marriage by the surviving one. And, according to the staff, no matter how much love they shower on them, the children miss their parents and home especially during the Eid holidays.

“They might not say in so many words but their faces and behaviour clearly indicate their longing for home. We can’t replace their parents, can we?” says Mubina Anjum, a nurse-cum-teacher at the child home.

The home, according to the staff, not only fulfils the basic requirements of food, clothing and shelter but also provides education to children up to grade six and those who show talent are supported in further education. Boys also get vocational training later depending on their interests. Efforts are also made to reunite them with their families.

The longing for home on the Eid day was found to be more intense among adults abandoned by their families, mostly for their drug addiction or property disputes. Some of the inmates are highly educated, including Jamshed, a young man with a master’s degree in computer science and Abdul Mohit Khan, an old man having a journalism degree.

“They all want to go home, but their families have lost interest in them. Some of them have given us in writing that we should inform them only when they die,” says Khair Mohammad, a helper who has been working at the Edhi Village for 25 years.

According to Dr Ghulam Mustafa posted at the village, the number of inmates at the facility has increased from 400 to 1,500 in 10 years. Currently there are 1,100 men with psychological or psychiatric problems, 200 are physically challenged persons, 150 are old persons and 50 are tuberculosis patients at the facility.

“Multiple factors are contributing to an increase in their number. For instance, increasing poverty, drug addiction and deteriorating law and order situation. We all have a responsibility towards these people and the situation won’t change unless we realise it,” he said.

Updated Aug 23, 2012 04:23am

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Comments (14) (Closed)


Saleem
Aug 23, 2012 10:21pm
Good article. I hope we all contribute with donation and/or be a volunteer even for a day.
Asif
Aug 23, 2012 10:38pm
Eidhi sahab is a legend. May Allah bless him with good health. Ameen.
Sohail
Aug 23, 2012 12:15pm
if every well-off person could sponsor and educate just one needy / destitute and under privileged person we would see the end to world poverty in 10 years
MOHAMMAD
Aug 24, 2012 02:59am
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT EIDHI. WE NEED MORE EIDHIS IN PAKISTAN.I M SURPRISED HOW DOES EIDHI SAHIB DO ALL THIS AT THIS AGE. MAY ALLAH BLESS HIM..AAMEEEN
minority
Aug 24, 2012 06:48am
....not at this age. He has been doing this all his life (now for over 4o years). Where there is a will there is a way. He does not shun humans or their misery, that is all. He has welcomed what most of us would frown at. As the famous story about the pious man who came from the worst of places. Upon being asked how come he is from that particular notorious place and yet so pure and clean of character. He replied, " I simply do all that they don't do and do not do all that they do" Food for thought.
Moe
Aug 23, 2012 08:38pm
WE are proud of these gifted volunteers for their hard work. These women are taking time off from their families and becoming part of those unfortunate children. You are our heros.
Annie
Aug 24, 2012 09:14pm
Edhi Sahab is truly a living legend, salute to him, what a nice facility, proper food, education, masjid, good teachers and caretakers, very well mannered kids, its highly commendable, a memorable eid day spent with these kids...may Allah bless them and give us courage to help them as much as we can...and really nice article, my special thanks to Dawn and Faiza Ilyas for my pic on dawn newspaper, its such a great surprise :)
minority
Aug 24, 2012 06:43am
@Junaid Here is a website where you can make donations: http://www.edhifoundation.com/edhi-donations.asp I make regular donations and this is the official website. They are thankful for any amount. Next time I am in Pakistan I will go visit the home/ Edhi village. Hope this helps
anony
Aug 23, 2012 07:27pm
My donations and zakat will ALL go to edhi this year, like all the other past years. May allah give you a long life and the strength to do this wonderful work, mr Edhi.
Adnan
Aug 23, 2012 06:20pm
Edhi is an extra ordinary example of contribution to our society with no political or monetary objective. I salute you Edhi
Junaid
Aug 23, 2012 03:26pm
Can someone please tell me how to donate money to Edhi Child Home from U.S? I searched the web and didn't see any site where I can donate online.
anony
Aug 23, 2012 07:26pm
You somehow remind me of myself when I was young. I tried to donate whatever I could to edhi, and pledged to do more once i start earning. Now settled in the USA with an excellent job (Alhamdulillah), I stay true to my word and am a regular donator.
arshad
Aug 23, 2012 06:44am
God Bless Edhi !
Minority
Aug 23, 2012 07:56am
If I could I would give all my money to Edhi foundation for helping out the less fortunate amongst us. I do make whatever contributions I can and when I am done with my studies, I will one day make a big donation Inshallah. Edhi Sahen may God bless you and may he give us all enough wisdom and strength to follow what you do and how you live (Amin). Well done.