Watching the unsettling images of those affected by the famine in Somalia, you have to ask yourself what you can do to help. At the same time, you end up wondering if anything you do end up doing would have any real impact on the situation. This happens to me often when stories like Somalia come to light. It was the same helplessness I felt during the Pakistani floods last summer. Or while I watch footage of communities destroyed by natural disasters, political turmoil, or industrial accidents.
It’s at times like these I remind myself of the exemplary soul that is Abdul Sattar Edhi. In Pakistan, and to Pakistanis everywhere, he’s a shining example of what humanity is capable of. His name has become synonymous with charity and selflessness for those who know of him and the work he’s done.
As a young boy, Edhi had to quit school in order to attend to his sick mother. Upon his mother’s death, he reflected on the struggle individuals and families face when dealing with sicknesses but can’t afford medical care. His personal experience resulted in a lifelong effort to those in need. Since then, the foundation he created has been building pharmacies, orphanages, shelters for domestic abuse victims and the mentally handicapped, rehabilitation centers, nursing training centers, and the world’s largest ambulance fleet which includes both air and water ambulance services. And if you came across him, you would never have a clue as to his greatness. With all the work he’s done, he’s continued to live a humble life, making charity work his sole purpose in life. Backed by his wife and family, his efforts continue on as more and more people accept his vision as their own. Now, in his 80s, he shows no signs of slowing down or backing down from the commitment he made to himself, and those in need, all those years ago.
I might not end up creating some large-scale foundation, but when I think of Edhi, I realize how one person’s contribution can matter, whether it be through monetary donations or volunteering. If more people made charity a priority in their lives, I would imagine the result would be astounding. If we could do just a fraction of the work Edhi’s done, then I think we’re well on our way in creating a better and more helping world.
It’s because of his example, I’m no longer going to let those images in the news make me feel like I can’t help. I might not be able to do much from here, but I can at least do something. And hopefully, continue to do more and more as time goes by. I hope you’ll join me in doing the same.
To help those affected by the famine in East Africa, CNN has provided an extensive list on how you can help.