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8/1/08

Life Is Not Fair

"Life Is Not Fair."
An oft-repeated phrase uttered by my mother, usually in a triumphant tone of voice.
"Life Is Not Fair."
Whenever an issue or complaint arises within the family, usually a response to a feeble over-protected sibling's benefit over the rest of the group, my mother condones:
"Life Is Not Fair."

Yesterday, as the children played, she had thrown it sharply out again in the midst of 4 and 5 year olds. My husband, who has always had a philosophical bent, confronted that statement with a discourse on yes, although "Life Is Not Fair," he posited that from that harsh reality sprang community, civilization, legal and ethical structures to help each other, to provide assistance, to aid those who have been touched by misfortune.

Ourselves? Life Is Not Fair.
But we can combat ignorance and weak character and provide our children and nephews with the love, support and guidance to steer them through difficulty and give them a better chance to succeed, so that, they in turn may help others.

Over our vacation, we flipped through left-behind National Geographics in the rented cottage. As we both are interested in middle eastern politics, one focusing on Pakistan caught our eye. Later, we brought the article into our Life Is Not Fair discussion.

"Now that is an area that despite over 60 years of independence has not been able to pull together as a culture, where people are unable and unwilling to overcome Life Is Not Fair to build structure."

But look at what ONE PERSON can do: Abdul Sattar Edhi looked at Life Is Not Fair, saw those in need and did something, starting with very modest resources.

From Wikipedia:

"In 1947 his family migrated to Karachi, Pakistan after the Partition of India. In 1951 he used the money he saved up while he was looking after his mother to purchase a small shop. It was at this shop where he opened a tiny dispensary with the help of a doctor who taught him basic medical care. He also encouraged his friends to give literacy classes there. Edhi had spent his life a simple man, and would continue to do so, he would sleep on a concrete bench outside the dispensary so he was available at any time to help people.[1]

In 1957 a major flu epidemic swept Karachi. Edhi was quick to react, setting up tents on the outskirts of the city to distribute free immunizations. Grateful residents donated generously to Edhi and so did the rest of Pakistan after hearing of his deeds. With all the donation money he bought the rest of the building his dispensary was located in. Edhi opened a free maternity centre and nursing school, and so Edhi Foundation was born.

Growth of Edhi Foundation

In the years that followed, Edhi Foundation grew through all of Pakistan. After the flu epidemic, a businessman donated a large sum to Edhi and with the money he purchased an ambulance vehicle which he drove himself.

Today the Foundation has over 600 (about 2000 in year 2008 according to BBC Asia) ambulances located all over the country. He himself continues to travel with call outs out of Karachi to the rest of the Sindh province, the response time and services the ambulances provide are renowned for being better than the municipal ones. Along with hospitals and ambulance services, Edhi Foundation has set up clinics, maternity homes, mental asylums, homes for the physically handicapped, blood banks, orphanages, adoption centers, mortuaries, shelters for runaway children and battered women, schools, nursing courses and soup kitchens.

A unique part of every Edhi centre is that there is a carriage outside each one, so that women who cannot afford to keep their children or have had a child out of wedlock and cannot keep it, can simply place their baby in the basket and Edhi Foundation will place it into an orphanage and give them a free education. [2]"

Back on the beach, we had armed our nephews with a response for the next time they encountered that negative phrase. It didn't take long. A nephew protested a young cousin's struggle over a toy; my mother breathed, "Life Is Not Fair."

He turned and asked simply, an 11 year old boy facing an adult:
"What are you going to do about it?"

And she looked him slowly in the eyes.
"Nothing."

 

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