Abandoned Baby Girl, Now 28, Eulogizes Bilquis Edhi (1947-2022)

Rabia Bano Osman, a baby girl abandoned by her parents 28 years ago in Karachi, has paid glowing tributes to Bilquis Edhi who died recently in Karachi, Pakistan. Rabia was found by Bilquis Edhi in one of several cradles (jhoolas) placed outside Edhi Foundation's office for parents to anonymously leave babies, mostly girls, they did not want or could not raise. She is now a well-educated and successful career woman working as a lawyer for Nike, the American athletic apparel giant with offices in San Diego, California. In a post on LinkedIn, Rabia who goes by Rabi B.O. writes: "Because of you, a little Pakistani girl orphaned at birth dared to dream. Because of you I am an independent woman with a graduate level education and a place in the world to call my own. You gave me opportunity. You awarded me a chance to dream, and you presented me with freedom".  Rabia has a Master's degree in Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Law from New York's Albany Law School. 

Rabia Bano Osman

Bilquis Edhi dedicated her entire life to Edhi Foundation, a charitable organization she founded with her husband Abdul Sattar Edhi who passed away in 2016. The foundation runs orphanages, shelter homes, langars (soup kitchens), senior care centers, morgues, funeral homes and the largest nationwide ambulance service, all funded by public donations.   

Anatol Lieven, author of Pakistan: A Hard Country, describes Edhi Foundation as follows: "There is no sight in Pakistan more moving than to visit some dusty, impoverished small town in an arid wasteland, apparently abandoned by God and all sensible men and certainly abandoned by the Pakistani state and its elected representatives - and to see the flag of Edhi Foundation flying over a concrete shack with a telephone, and the only ambulance in town standing in front. Here, if anywhere in Pakistan, lies the truth of human religion and human morality."  

Here is the full text of Rabia's LinkedIn post

Twenty-eight years ago I was abandoned in a baby carriage at the #EdhiOrphanage located in Karachi, Pakistan. You found me, you named me after your mother Rabia Bano, you forged my identity, then you gave me a home. Because of you today…I am a somebody, I have an identity, and I have loving parents to call my own. You fought for woman’s rights, you were an activist, a philanthropist, a rebel for the good cause. You taught me the power of woman, to always have an unwavering sense of self and to be unapologetically ambitious.

Because of you, a little Pakistani girl orphaned at birth dared to dream. Because of you I am an independent woman with a graduate level education and a place in the world to call my own. You gave me opportunity. You awarded me a chance to dream, and you presented me with freedom.

To the world you were Bilquis Edhi, but to me you were Bari Amma (Elder mother). Thanks to you I have two loving parents who made sure I had everything a little girl could have ever asked for. I went to a great high school, got scholarships throughout college, did an internship in NYS Assembly, Bronx District Attorney’s Office, U.S Congress, U.S Senate and went to law school to purse a masters in Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Law. All. Because. Of. You.

 For those of you who are reading about Bilquis Edhi for the first time… I want you to know who she was to me, and to all of Pakistan. #BilquisEdhi was a hero, she was a mother to so many orphans (like me) and a powerhouse for humanity.

Losing Bare Abbu (#AbdulSattarEdhi) was tough, but your loss has made me feeling orphaned again today…

 My name is Rabia Bibi Osman, and I will forever be a proud #Edhi baby.

Related Links:


Riaz Haq said…
3 Babies & One Bilquis Edhi – Read Their Stories Of Triumph Here!


The “Mother of Pakistan,” Bilquis Edhi, left us on Friday, leaving a void in our hearts forever. A nurse by profession and philanthropist and humanitarian by heart, she was a shelter for thousands of abandoned babies in Pakistan. Famous for her ‘jhoola‘ project, she set up 300 jhoolas/cradles outside various Edhi centers for people to leave their unwanted babies. Through this simple action, she was able to save 42000 lives. 42000 lives that are now healthy and have found the loving home they deserved.

She changed the lives of many and changed them for the better. She cared for the children as her own and looked after them until they were sent off to live an even better life with their new parents, in homes they would feel loved and wanted.

Out of the thousands of lives she impacted, these 3 stories struck a chord with us & will move you to tears.

1. Rabia Bano
Named after Bilquis Edhi’s mother, Rabia Bano was left in the Edhi jhoola 28 years ago. Today, she holds a master’s degree in Cyber Security and Data Privacy Law from a law school in the US. She is currently working as a Senior Privacy and Compliance Analyst at Nike.

Bilquis Edhi found her, took her in, and gave her an identity and a home.

Rabia penned a heartfelt note for her ‘bari amma’ as she called Bilquis, telling the world that it is all because of her that she is now an independent woman with a graduate degree. She found loving parents who gave her everything she could’ve ever wanted.

“Because of you, a little Pakistani girl orphaned at birth dared to dream. Because of you, I am an independent woman with graduate-level education and a place in the world to call my own. You gave me an opportunity. You awarded me a chance to dream, and you presented me with freedom,” writes Rabia Bano.

“Losing Bare Abbu (#AbdulSattarEdhi) was tough, but your loss has made me feeling orphaned again today… ” she added.

Rabia concluded by saying she will forever be “a proud Edhi baby.”

2. Geeta
A deaf and mute little Indian girl of age 10 or 11 who accidentally crossed over to Pakistan. She was taken to the Edhi center where Bilquis Edhi raised her as her own. Bilquis Sahiba named her Geeta when she realized the little girl was Hindu. She noticed her gestures, for example, touching feet, etc.

Bilquis Edhi would take her to the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Karachi and later procured Hindu gods posters for Geeta to set up a private temple at the Edhi center.

In 2015, Geeta was finally taken to her country to seek her parents, and several DNA tests later, she found her birth mother. Geeta and Bilquis continued to share the same close bond regardless of being separated by a border.

(Source: Dawn)

3. Naaday Ali
Singer and Actor Hadiqa Kiani, broke stereotypes when she adopted her son, Naaday Ali from Edhi center. Upon Bilquis Sahiba’s demise, the Dobara actress took to Instagram to reminisce the time she found the light of her life, all thanks to Bilquis Edhi.

“She took the world’s burden on her back and stood up to simply help the world become a better place. I believe that Allah (SWT) made her a vessel of aid to people in need, I also believe that Allah (SWT) made her the vessel, my source, to bring me to my son Naaday Ali,” she wrote.

“She trusted me with being a mother and I, like so many others touched by Mrs. Edhi’s grace, will forever be grateful,” the actress added.

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan’s generational shift
By Dr Ayesha RazzaqueMay 22, 2022


Last year saw the publication of ‘Womansplaining – Navigating Activism, Politics and Modernity in Pakistan,’ a book edited by Federal Minister Sherry Rehman to which I was able to contribute a chapter. It connected education with women’s rights and argued that indigenous movements like the Aurat March should focus on education as a core part of their agenda.

Detractors of Pakistan’s women’s rights movement have been taking potshots at it by claiming that the issues it raises are not the issues of ‘real’ (read: rural) women. Put aside for a minute the fact that Pakistan’s rural population now accounts for 62 per cent, down from 72 per cent in 1980, and is on a steady decline. While the numbers may differ, and women’s power to negotiate may differ, rural and urban women share basic challenges and better education can yield similar opportunities and improvements in life circumstances.

Indigenous progressive and women’s rights movements have adopted the cause of education as an agenda item but should make it front and center, specifically K-12 education for girls in rural areas. New data further substantiates that connection with numbers. Education up to the higher secondary level, just the education that rural schools offer today, is the enabler that brings increased women’s labour force participation, delayed first marriage, lower rates of consanguinity, increased income, increased spousal income, and is a contributing factor to greater freedom of movement and communication – all positives.

Studies exploring the relationships between levels of education and life circumstances around the world are plentiful and capture the situation at a point and place in time. The Learning and Educational Achievements in Pakistan Schools (LEAPS) programme is qualitatively different because it already spans a period of almost two decades. The LEAPS programme has been tracking lower- and middle-income households in 120 randomly selected villages across three districts in rural Punjab since 2003. It has been revisiting them since then, most recently for the sixth time in 2018, roughly once every three years. That makes it one of the largest and longest panels of households in lower- and middle-income countries. This study is also unique as it looks at return on investment in education beyond an individual’s income and looks into the possible spillover into life circumstances and quality-of-life which is especially interesting for those interested in women empowerment and feminist movements.

In this latest round it surveyed 2006 women now aged 20-30. All these women were from the same 120 birth villages and have been tracked to their marital homes within or outside the village if they have married, migrated or moved for any other reason. Preliminary descriptive results of the long-running LEAPS study tell interesting stories. The headline finding of LEAPS investigators is that Pakistan is in the midst of a ‘generational shift’ where, for the first time in its education history, we have a ‘critical mass of moderately educated women’.

In this generation only 18.7 per cent of rural women are without an education, down from 75.5 per cent from their mothers’ generation. Nearly 50 per cent have an education ranging from a primary to secondary education, up from just 20 per cent in the previous generation. A stunning 22.9 per cent have a higher secondary or above education, up from an almost nothing 0.3 per cent in their previous generation.


Existing plans, at least in the domain of education, remain unguided by some of the very excellent evidence that is available. Meanwhile, the Planning Commission is organizing a ‘Turnaround Pakistan’ conference perhaps as early as May 28 to conduct national consultations. Whether a hurriedly thrown together conference can change the way business is done remains to be seen.
ISF said…
Rabia Osman, a 2019 ISF Congressional Intern Alumni, spent her internship in the office of Rep. Yvette Clarke (NY-9)!
Rabia currently works as the Senior Privacy and Compliance Analyst at Nike. Rabia graduated in 2019 with her M.S. in Legal Studies with a Concentration in Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Law at Albany Law School. Prior to that, she received her B.S. in Computer Science and Information Security from John Jay College. Rabia served as a Senate Intern for the NYC Office of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Legislative Intern for the New York State Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, and an Intelligence Analyst Intern for the Office of the Bronx District Attorney.
If you are looking to gain experience on Capitol Hill this Fall, here is your chance! ISF’s Congressional Policy Fall 2022 Internship program is accepting applications from now until July 18!
There isn’t much time left. Learn more and apply at http://islamicscholarshipfund.org/internship/.

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