KARACHI: The Google search engine on Tuesday featured a doodle commemorating the life of Abdul Sattar Edhi, the man who built a charitable empire out of nothing, on what would have been his 89th birthday.
The doodle titled ‘Angel of Mercy’, shows a simply-dressed Edhi, who passed away in July last year, standing in front with an Edhi ambulance and a shelter in the background.
The California-based search engine often changes the colourful logo on its famously Spartan homepage to mark anniversaries or significant events or pay tribute to artists, scientists, statesmen and others.
While talking to Dawn, his son Faisal, who now runs his father’s organisation with his mother Bilquis Edhi, said it was a great honour for them. “It brings us extreme joy that Google remembered my father on his birthday and honoured Edhi sahib and Pakistan with this doodle,” he said.
According to a statement released by Google, “Today’s doodle honours Abdul Sattar Edhi, a global-reaching philanthropist and humanitarian who made it his life’s mission to helping those in need… Here’s to Edhi, whose unwavering commitment to others will always be remembered.”
A short biography follows: “Edhi was born in India but moved to Karachi shortly after Pakistan was formed. He soon noticed that many Pakistanis lacked shelter, medicine, education, and other essentials, and was moved to help in any way he could. He began by simply asking others around him to contribute time or money, especially when a flu epidemic hit Karachi.”
Quoting a 2009 interview with NPR, the statement added that he said, “I got medical students to volunteer. I was penniless and begged for donations on the street. And people gave.”
The Edhi Foundation, which is funded solely by private donations, was established in 1951. The foundation operates 24 hours a day and provides a variety of social services, from homeless shelters to medical care — free of charge. Most notably, the foundation operates the world’s largest volunteer ambulance network in Pakistan. “In my entire life I have driven no other car except my ambulance,” Edhi said.
Google doodles first came about in 1998 with the famous out-of-office doodle; two years later this was followed by a doodle to mark Bastille Day.
In 2010, Google ran an animated doodle to commemorate singer and activist John Lennon’s 70th birthday. The search engine has also honoured 17th century French composer Claude Debussy, physicist Erwin Schrodinger, English chemist Rosalind Franklin, author Franz Kafka, actor and comedian Charlie Chaplin, singer and Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery, among others, on their birthdays.
Last year, after American singer and songwriter Prince passed away, Google paid its tribute with a doodle of one of his most famous songs — Purple Rain.
The search engine has also designed special doodles for events such as the 66th anniversary of the Roswell UFO sighting, the 30th anniversary of Pac Man and Martin Luther King Day. Google’s doodle team has, so far, created more than 2,000 doodles for homepages around the world.