Bilquis Edhi: A mother-figure, an inspiration

The world has lost a gem while thousands of people across all ages have lost their ‘Mummy’

By Sa’adia Reza

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Agencies file
Agencies file

Published: Sun 17 Apr 2022, 9:31 AM

Last updated: Sun 17 Apr 2022, 10:28 AM

They called her ‘Mummy’. For the young children who had found shelter in her warmth, young adults who looked up to her for guidance and wisdom, and hundreds of volunteers who made this job easier; Bilquis Bano Edhi was an absolute mother-figure.

When the news of her death broke I was reminded of an afternoon I had interviewed Mrs Edhi almost 10 years ago. The meeting was in one of the oldest areas in Karachi, where late Abdus Sattar Edhi, Bilquis Edhi’s husband and Pakistan’s most-loved humanitarian and philanthropist had originally set up the Edhi Centre. The modest building truly reflected the personality of its owners, yet the happy vibes it gave left one with a feeling of satisfaction hard to define.

So was the meeting with Mrs Edhi. Her spontaneity was contagious, her anecdotes regaled with supressed laughter. Totally unapologetic of an unconventional childhood where she used to be “quite a bully, a total don”, who would rather read comic books during classes, Mrs Edhi’s artlessness made the conversation a treat to listen to.

Throughout the interview, one could catch glimpses of Mrs Edhi’s disregard for social norms, whether it was playing ‘gilli-danda’ with boys or marrying a man 20 years her senior despite opposition from several quarters. As a wife, she was always on equal footing with her husband, their love for social service creating an exemplary bond.

I remember her telling me how she met Abdus Sattar Edhi for the first time, mistaking him to be guard of the Centre. Her love and respect for Edhi reflected in her words as she reminisced her early days at Edhi centre working as a nurse, watching her husband dedicate his best years to social welfare. For the world, Edhi was the face of Edhi Welfare Organisation that took under its wings countless abandoned babies, runaway young children, ran an ambulance service and orphanage centres among other activities. But it’s impossible to imagine this happening without the constant support of his gentle wife whose compassion coupled with an iron will was an inspiration for many.


As she was laid to rest in Karachi, the world has lost a gem while thousands of people across all ages have lost their ‘Mummy’. Yet, her legacy will always linger, her ready smile and twinkling eyes will always be remembered, and her courage will be a beacon for many. Her service to humanity will reflect in everyone she has influenced in some way, and in the thousands of babies who found homes and caring parents through her.

Rest in peace, Bilquis Edhi. You will be missed.

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