Dr Ruth Pfau: Mother Teresa Of Pakistan

Great people keep coming to this mortal universe. They live a life full of purposes. Dr Ruth is one of those brilliant minds & captivating sea-shores who lived for humanity. She was a medical doctor of leprosy. She moved from Germany’s luxurious place to arduous, pathetic, and poor places of Pakistan to treat the spreading disease of that time in the country vigorously. She, the first woman in Pakistan’s history, served the nation and its people for almost 51 years. She is admired as “Mother Teresa of Pakistan”.

Dr Ruth was born on September 9, 1929, in Germany. She had five siblings. She studied medicine at the University of Mainz. She was spiritually impressed and inflicted by a Dutch Christian woman who lived her life to preach love & forgiveness. After a little professional life of hers,’ she moved to Paris and joined the Daughters of the Heart Mary, a Catholic order.
She was a spiritually, romantic kind of woman by her birth. She always believed in humanity. She kept helping the poor get rid of poverty. The order sent her to southern India. She visited Karachi in 1960.

At the age of 31, she left the comfortable, mesmerizing, and much better life of her country to mitigate the sufferings of people to oust them from torments, torments of vulnerable disease Leprosy; a contagious bacterial
infection.

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The outbreak was at its acme due to no facility for proper treatment. Luckily, she visited the Lepers’ colony located behind the I. I. Chundriger Road close to the City Railway Station. When she witnessed the inevitable, inexorable, and inflexible situation of the patients, she vowed to treat them until the disease had vanished.

Facilities were equivalent to none, so she started treating the disease in a hut in that area. Later on, she established a clinic in 1963, which the patients of Karachi visited, elsewhere in Pakistan, and even from Afghanistan. Due to her courageous work, she was appointed as the Federal aide on Leprosy to the Ministry of Health and the Government of Pakistan’s social welfare.

She went to distant rural areas to imagine the ground realities of the disease. She raised funds in Germany and amassed donations in Pakistan to facilitate the patients free of cost. She could not speak any of the native languages like Urdu, Punjabi, Balochi, Sindhi and Pashto; rather, she spoke English. Hence she was led back by linguistic halts, apart from food choices. Anyone can imagine how difficult it would have been for her to dwell in a place that was not tantamount to her taste.

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All her great works have no exemplary words, nor they can be counted. But a few of them that got international attention are enlisted below;

⚫ In 1963 she set up the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre. The clinic received
patients all over the surrounding areas and closer to countries.
⚫ She built a network of almost 150 medical centres.
⚫ She trained doctors and then founded “Pakistan’s National Leprosy Control
Program in 1965.
⚫ Moreover, she treated 56,780 people that were infected with Leprosy.
Due to her enormous work, she was given many civil awards;
⚫ In 1979, “ Hilal I Imtiaz” was presented to her as an accolade.
⚫ In 1989, “ Hilal I Pakistan” was attributed for her performances.
⚫ In 1998 Pakistan appreciated her work by giving her National Citizenship.
⚫ In 2003 she got, “Jinnah Award” from the Jinnah Society.
⚫ In 2004 she was declared, “Doctor of Science” by Agha Khan University.
⚫ In 2010 she earned “Nishan I Quaid I Azam”.
⚫ In 2017 a hospital was constructed in her name.

She was admitted to Aga Khan University Hospital( Karachi) due to Respiratory Paralysis in August 2017. After a few days, In the early morning of August 10, 2017, she died of Pulmonary Arrest at the age of 87 in Karachi. Her death was announced by the Premier of the time. Premier told the nation that Pakistan had lost one of its true assets. The Prime Minister showed immense grief and asked the nation to come and attend her last funeral rituals. The Pakistani flag was draped over her coffin, and Pakistan’s Armed Forces offered a 19-gun salute.

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Dr Ruth’s services predicate no religion is above humanity. Let’s unite hands to exile the hate redundant elements from the world to bring joy, stability, and peace among the people of this planet, Earth. A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.

This article was written by Hassan Bilal. To write for The Students Herald contact: writetostudentsherald@gmail.com

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