LAHORE: A teenaged boy in school uniform gives Rs12 to Abdus Sattar Edhi at a camp near Masjid-i-Shuhada on The Mall and starts walking away.
‘I will go home on foot today because the money my mother gave me for fare is now with Edhi Sahib,’ said Zubair who is a Class-VIII student in a school near Regal Chowk.
‘This is not for the first time I am going home on foot. At least twice a week, I buy ice cream or Naan Chana with the money my mother gives me for fare. I saw Edhi Sahib and thought of my age-mates in Swat who are now homeless and decided to gift my ice cream to one of them,’ Zubair told this reporter near the high court intersection while refusing a ride to his house in Krishan Nagar on Thursday.
‘I am not afraid. I have hitched a ride home many a time while enjoying a free ride. But today is a very special day for me. Thank you for your offer,’ he smiled.
Owner of a tea stall near Regal Chowk was helping Edhi ‘Baba’ in his own way. ‘I know Edhi Baba will mind if I do not charge anything at all (for the tea). But I have to contribute (to the Swat cause) so I have been charging half the price; they order full set (of tea) and I charge for a half set,’ said the owner who wished not to be named.
Motorists stopping at the Regal Chowk signal would come out of their vehicles to approach Edhi, sitting on a wheelchair under a tent on the footpath, would shake hand with him after giving him some money. Traffic wardens and district police personnel too were among the visitors to the Edhi camp.
‘The public response to my appeal is encouraging. People have donated around Rs5 million in cash so far from all over Pakistan in addition to relief goods. I am optimistic that the people of my country would join hands to meet this challenge too,’ Edhi told Dawn.
Meanwhile, cash and relief goods continued pouring in at other camps set up nearby and up to Charing Cross on The Mall.
The Mall Road Traders Association said they had collected over two truckloads of relief goods at their Charing Cross camp that would be despatched to the needy in the NWFP shortly.
The Labour Party Pakistan said goods worth Rs40,000, collected on Wednesday, had been sent to Mardan.
‘Today, we have got around Rs20,000 in the form of Re1, Rs2 and Rs10 donations collected by LPP activists by going to every car, rickshaw, bus and motorcycle stopping at the Regal Chowk signal,’ said a party spokesperson.