Killing the healer: Swedish charity worker Almeby dies

Published: December 14, 2012

Almeby died at the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm after she was flown back home to Sweden for specialist medical care. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

Birgitta Almeby, the 71-year-old Swedish Christian missionary who was shot in Lahore on December 3 died in a Stockholm hospital on Wednesday night.

Officials at the Full Gospel Assemblies (FGA), the charity Almeby worked for, confirmed her demise to The Express Tribune.

Almeby, who was also diagnosed with dengue fever last year, had refused to leave Pakistan after 38 years of service in the country,
despite repeated requests from her relatives back home.

“Her stance was simple: serve the poor and the downtrodden,” says 73-year-old Rehmat Masih, who, along with his wife Maryam, had been serving Almeby for almost 35 years.

“Birgitta never expressed any threats to her life and moved around the city quite comfortably. Pakistan was her home for so many years and everyone who knew her will vouch for her dedication and commitment to serve the poor,” he said.

Almeby died at the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm after she was flown back home to Sweden for specialist medical care. Earlier, after being shot in Lahore, she was said to be in a “critical” condition.

Throughout her 35 years in Pakistan, Almeby worked for the missionary service FGA.

The organisation has various projects in Lahore, Faisalabad and other parts of the country including the FGA Bible College, an orphanage and adult literacy and technical education centres.

Almeby also worked for the welfare and rehabilitation of the victims of earthquake and floods, FGA officials said, adding that she had donated Rs30 million for the establishment of a database in the areas hit by the 2005 earthquake.

Liaqat Qaiser, spokesperson for the FGA, said Almeby was managing three orphanages besides teaching at the FGA Bible School.  “She was vibrant, despite her age,” he said.

Qaiser, who worked with her for almost 35 years, said she always seemed content with her life in Pakistan.

“She was like a family member to all of us. Her departure has left a vacuum in our lives,” he said. “What is disturbing for us is the thought that she was shot right in front of her house, and lay there unattended for several minutes.”

The neighbour’s driver finally took her to the hospital but by then, she had lost a lot of blood, which proved fatal, he added.

She was flown back home via a special air ambulance on December 10,

Rehmat Masih, who served as Almeby’s housemaid for decades, said he was never treated like one. “She used to look after us, instead of us looking after her. She made sure we felt as if we were living in our own home,” said an emotional Masih.

“These cruel people have killed humanity by shooting that woman who left her country, family, and life to serve Pakistan and its poor,” he added.

Punishing the culprits

Following her demise, Pakistan promised to bring her killers to justice.

“The government of Pakistan conveys its deepest condolences to the government and people of Sweden on the sad demise of Ms Birgitta Almeby,” said a statement issued by the Foreign Office.

The government reiterated its “commitment to make all efforts to conduct a full investigation and to spare no effort to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2012.            

Reader Comments (26)

  • Jamshed
    Dec 14, 2012 - 3:27AM

    This is another sad day for Pakistan. People come here to help the needy and poor and this is how we repay them. May God bless her and may she rest in peace.

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  • Haris Chaudhry
    Dec 14, 2012 - 4:12AM

    Shame on you Pakistan..

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  • Baber
    Dec 14, 2012 - 4:36AM

    My heart goes to the family of Ms Birgitta Almeby and the people of Sweeden. Our heads are hung in shame. R.I.P

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  • kanwal
    Dec 14, 2012 - 5:02AM

    Is there an investigation going on? Who is the suspect?

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  • abu-uzhur
    Dec 14, 2012 - 5:17AM

    @ Fellow-Mourners

    Who has robbed us of our humanity ? We must seek answers to this question .

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  • Truth detector
    Dec 14, 2012 - 6:17AM

    Birgitta Almeby, May you rest in peace. You are better than millions of so called Muslims. May Allah give you place in Heaven for what you did.

    We are guilty & ashamed.

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  • sabi
    Dec 14, 2012 - 7:39AM

    I hold ruling elite of Pakistan responsible for this murder.Shame on you Pakistan’s rulers you have put our head down once again.
    May her soul rest in peace.

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  • Polpot
    Dec 14, 2012 - 8:00AM

    We Pakistanis are becoming ahsan faramosh…..
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    ungrateful, thankless people…

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  • Rehman Malik
    Dec 14, 2012 - 8:17AM

    @kanwal, We have ordered for the investigation for this tragic case and we will make sure that the culprit is arrested. This investigation report is 1000000000th case in the pipeline to be investigated and the result will come once I leave to UK leaving pakistan citizenship or after I die. As I am going to India to apply for the citizen ship there (In case I have to leave Pakistan and the stupid British cancel my citizenship) I am little busy now a days nevertheless I will make sure that Pakistan will be secured while I am sitting in front of the Taj Mahal.

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  • USMAN786
    Dec 14, 2012 - 8:44AM

    By killing her, Taliban has deprived so many poor of the good work she was doing. Shame on you. You have to answer on the day of Judgement like Altaf bhai

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  • GhostRider
    Dec 14, 2012 - 9:00AM

    @Haris Chaudhry:
    Shame is an insignificant word for this tragedy.

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  • asad
    Dec 14, 2012 - 9:42AM

    another shameful day

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  • vasan
    Dec 14, 2012 - 9:45AM

    Extremely sad to hear the death of this great soul. May she Rest In Peace.

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  • yousaf
    Dec 14, 2012 - 10:13AM

    @::What a ‘payback’ for 35 years of selfless service by a most humane of humans.I agree with GhostRider that ‘shame’ is an insignificant word.I am dumbfound and speechless at the news

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  • Dec 14, 2012 - 10:24AM

    “”Very shocked to learn about the sad demise of Birgitta Almeby. RIP. This is our tough luck. In her, we have lost a sincere friend and a dedicated social worker!!! The extremists are bringing bad name to our country. Islam teaches us peace, respect, tolerance…… and inter-faith harmony; and a common Pakistani Muslim would never behave violently. On the contrary, these terrorist are spoiling our soft image. The irony is that Birgitta came here to serve the downtrodden but was murdered in return!!!!!!! A deplorable state of affairs.

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  • Dr Rifaat
    Dec 14, 2012 - 10:26AM

    Regarding her services for her Pakistani sons and daughters. She was our mother and any person does not like to kill the mother. I think any foreign hand can not be ruled out.

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  • Muhammad Abdullah Faheem
    Dec 14, 2012 - 10:39AM

    Birgitta Almeby, God Bless you in your perpetual life; I was silent on the day you were shot that how such a hideous crime could have taken place. Sooner or later people will leave to come to Pakistan

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  • vasan
    Dec 14, 2012 - 11:13AM

    Dr Rifaat : “I think any foreign hand can not be ruled out.” There comes the typical pak mentality. First step to solve any crime is to accept that the culprit is one of you.

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  • sars
    Dec 14, 2012 - 11:43AM

    We should be ashamed of ourselves. Everyone seems to be going cross eyed pretending that they alone are the defenders of the faith (from cartoons, movies, T shirts and other issues).

    Islam ensures that human life is paramount. You are urged that others must be safe from both your hand and tongue.
    Islam also urges respect and protection for women.
    Pakistani (and most Asian countries) local traditions dictate that guests must be treated very well.
    Where do we see any evidence of anyone following these Islamic and local traditions???

    These monsters who commit these killings are just guns for hire fuelled by petrodollars and high on drugs and should be condemened by society at large ( rather than having apologetic petty debates about religion).

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  • Barrister
    Dec 14, 2012 - 12:16PM

    Yet again the country, we as citizens and the government have failed to protect one of the very few people who did a lot for the country. Its a sad sad day indeed!

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  • Dr Rifaat
    Dec 14, 2012 - 5:22PM

    @vasan:

    We are muslim, you are talking from which area, I know that & guessed from your comments.
    Anyhow thanks for your comments

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  • IceSoul
    Dec 14, 2012 - 7:56PM

    Your argument is flawed at the most basic level because not only do Pakistanis kill their mothers, they also sell them.

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/102268/sons-sell-off-mother-for-rs30000/

    AND FYI, I’m a Sunni Muslim, living in Lahore. I’m both Sunni and Punjabi which means I fit all the various criteria of being “Pakistani”.Recommend

  • Ali
    Dec 14, 2012 - 7:57PM

    Shame on being a Pakistani!!

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  • surelySure!
    Dec 15, 2012 - 12:18AM

    so sad! Sad indeed. RIP.
    I dont know why do always kill ourselves? Still blaming foreign elements for our losses?Recommend

  • Riaz Khan
    Dec 15, 2012 - 1:46PM

    We are worst than ANIMALS!

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  • Rao Amjad Ali
    Dec 15, 2012 - 11:50PM

    This is a horrible tragedy! My sympathies and prayers go out to the bereaved family and friends. She paid the ultimate price for helping a country to which she owed nothing!

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