Bilquis Edhi, the wife of world renowned social worker and humanist Abdul Sattar Edhi of Edhi Foundation, has been selected for Mother Teresa Memorial International Award-2015 for sheltering Geeta, a deaf and mute Indian girl who was stranded in Pakistan.
“In view of the noble and humanitarian act of sheltering our dear Geeta, a deaf-and-mute woman who had accidentally crossed into Pakistan, the Harmony Foundation Board has unanimously decided to honour Karachi-based Bilquis Bano of the Edhi Foundation,” the foundation’s chairman and activist Abraham Mathai said.
Bilquis Edhi has been honoured along with global humanitarian aid provider Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). The prestigious award, which has earlier been presented to two Nobel laureates, Dalai Lama and Malala Yousufzai, has been instituted by the Harmony Foundation, Mumbai.
The Edhi foundation had looked after Geeta for over a decade and till her recent return to India. “It is indeed remarkable to note Bano’s emphatic gesture of considering her religious beliefs and cultural sentiments through the years, despite Geeta’s disadvantaged situation to demand the same,” Mathai explained.
Bilquis Edhi and MSF’s representative Leslie Shanks have accepted the Harmony Foundation’s invite to come to India in person and receive the award instituted in memory of the late Mother Teresa at an event scheduled on November 22.
Geeta was 11 or 12 when she crossed one of the world’s most militarised borders from neighbouring India. She became stuck in Pakistan because she was unable to identify herself or say where she came from.
Now believed to be in her early 20s, Geeta remained under the care of Pakistan’s largest welfare organisation, the Edhi Foundation, living in a shelter in the port city of Karachi. Even the name “Geeta” was given to her by Edhi staff.