Nation salutes leprosy crusader

Published: August 19, 2017
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Pakistani Army personnel and members of the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre transport the coffin of Ruth Pfau. PHOTO: AFP

Pakistani Army personnel and members of the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre transport the coffin of Ruth Pfau. PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan's military, naval and air force police officers escort the hearse carrying the coffin of Dr Ruth Pfau. PHOTO: REUTERS PHOTO: AFP Nuns walk with flowers to attend the funeral of Ruth Pfau. PHOTO: REUTERS Pakistani Army personnel and members of the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre transport the coffin of Ruth Pfau. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI    : With honours befitting a national hero, Dr Ruth Pfau’s body was interred in Karachi’s Gora Qabristan on Saturday.

Dr Pfau was a founding member of the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre (MALC) and died on August 10 at the age of 87.

The state funeral was in recognition of the German-Pakistani’s services to the country through her treatment of leprosy patients, who are often deemed untouchables in society. Her lifetime of dedication to the cause helped bring new cases down by 97 per cent nationwide.

Leipzig-born Dr Pfau, a nun with the Daughters of the Heart of Mary, arrived in Karachi in 1960. She was en route to India, but had to stop in Karachi due to some issues with her Indian visa.

During her stay, she was introduced to a colony off I.I. Chundrigar Road, formerly McLeod Road, where leprosy patients stayed. On seeing their condition, she decided to stay here, eventually making the country her home, and her final resting place.

Nuns walk with flowers to attend the funeral of Ruth Pfau. PHOTO: REUTERS

Nuns walk with flowers to attend the funeral of Ruth Pfau. PHOTO: REUTERS

Touchy scenes were observed at MALC, from where her flag-draped casket was taken to St Patrick’s Cathedral by a Pakistan Army convoy. Archbishop of Karachi Joseph Coutss presided over the requiem at the cathedral, after which Dr Pfau’s body was taken to Gora Qabristan for burial.

President Mamnoon Hussain, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Sindh Governor Muhammad Zubair, Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Bajwa, Air Chief Marshal Suhail Aman, Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (Operations) Vice Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation’s Dr Adib Rizvi and others attended the funeral and paid respects to her.

Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre mourns loss of Dr Ruth Pfau

MALC National Training Coordinator Dr Zafar told The Express Tribune that a number of foreign delegates, Dr Pfau’s students, and even patients had come to Karachi only to participate in the funeral.

She was called amma (mother), by her patients. Fondly dubbed the ‘magical healer’, she helped people from around 50,000 families during her lifetime. Almost all of her patients said her personality healed them more than any medicine.

PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP

She always stressed that leprosy did not just cause physical symptoms, but psychological ones due to the societal attitude towards people with disfiguring diseases. But she would always say that “Love will always have the last word”.

 

Pakistan's military, naval and air force police officers escort the hearse carrying the coffin of Dr Ruth Pfau. PHOTO: REUTERS

Pakistan’s military, naval and air force police officers escort the hearse carrying the coffin of Dr Ruth Pfau. PHOTO: REUTERS

Meanwhile, the Sindh government paid tribute to Dr Pfau by renaming Civil Hospital, Karachi after her. A notification issued by the provincial health department later in the day listed the facility’s new name as Dr Ruth KM Pfau Civil Hospital, Karachi.

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Reader Comments (4)

  • Saleem
    Aug 19, 2017 - 10:20PM

    We must present a salute to this lady who did so much for leprosy patients in Pakistan. Though many in Pakistan talk about how great is their religion but yet to produce a man or women how has devoted his/her life for humanity.Recommend

  • Abdurrehman Khan
    Aug 20, 2017 - 2:48AM

    @Saleem:
    ever heard of Abdul Sattar Edhi?Recommend

  • Muhammad Imran
    Aug 20, 2017 - 6:25AM

    @Saleem:
    WITH DUE RESPECT, SIR!
    Abdul Sattar Eidi, Bilqees Eidi, Ramzan Chippa, Masood-ul-Mulk, Taseer Bashir and Hussain Dawood are a few to name Sons and Daughters of the soil who have been and are contributing to the nation and the World.
    It is good to pay tribute to the good people and one should do that but should be done without bringing or defaming the religion.
    Our mindset has become so negative that we find a quarreling point in every situation. May ALLAH guide us.Recommend

  • Ahmad
    Aug 20, 2017 - 1:26PM

    @Saleem:
    Exactly, We Even Issues Fatwas Against The Great Edhi Sahib, I was going somewhere in a Cab few days back and the Conversation turned to Edhi Sahib and the Driver started abusing him, I Tried my Best to Convince Him how Great he was Yet I failed.

    God Bless Dr. Ruth for her services May Her Soul Rest Heavens Ameen! Recommend

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