KARACHI: One of the world’s most decorated humanitarians, Dr Ruth Katherine Pfau, regarded as Pakistan’s Mother Teressa passed away on Thursday after prolonged age-related illness in Karachi.
Dr Ruth was born in Leipzig, Germany in 1929, where she studied medicine, but being dissatisfied with her life and her purpose of living, she flew to Pakistan in 1960 to lead the nation’s fight against Leprosy; a long term infectious disease.
She has been awarded with prestigious national awards such as Sitarae Quaide Azam in 1969, Hilale Imtiaz in 1979, Hilale Pakistan in 1989 and also Nishane Quaide Azam in 2010 for her selfless services to the people of the country for 50 years.
Furthermore, she established Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre (MALC) in Karachi and also various small medical centres across Pakistan to tackle the disease, which soon became the purpose of her life. In recognition of her services to the country, she was awarded Pakistani citizenship in 1988.
Prominent personalities in Pakistan and around the world have expressed their grief over the demise of Dr Ruth, also showing their gratitude to one of the country’s finest.
President Mamnoon Hussain said on occasion of Dr Ruth’s demise that her legacy of selflessly serving humanity will continue and that her adopted homeland salutes her.
“Dr Pfau’s services to end leprosy in Pakistan cannot be forgotten. She left her homeland and made Pakistan her home to serve humanity. Pakistani nation salutes Dr Pfau and her great tradition to serve humanity will be continued.” He said.
Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif also praised the humanitarian saying that she will be dearly missed.
“Really sorry to hear about Dr Ruth Pfau. What an incredible life she lived in the service of suffering humanity! She will be dearly missed.” He said.
Pakistan Tehreeke Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan shared a message on his Twitter account saying that Dr Ruth has left a void that is hard to fill.
“Saddened to learn of Dr Ruth Pfau's passing. Her spirit of selfless dedication leaves a void that will be difficult to fill.” He tweeted.
Tweets were also shared by various other leading figures of the country to pay homage to Dr Ruth.
Senior journalist Mubasher Lucman (@Mubasherlucman): “Just heard about the sad demise of Dr Ruth Pfau. What a great human and super person it takes to do what she did.”
PTI ‘s Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar (@ChMSarwar): “Dr Ruth Pfau's passing is great loss 4 Pakistan as she was a pioneer of Leprosy control program. She was selfless/dedicated. May her soul RIP.”
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)’s Sherry Rehman (@Sherryrehman): “She came to Pakistan 56 years ago and spent her life looking after the diseased and dispossessed. We owe u a debt of gratitude Dr Ruth Pfau.”
Senior journalist Asma Shirazi (@Asmashirazi): “Tribute to #DrRuth Pfau(hilal e pakistan) a symbol of selflessness and devotion to leprosy patients,you will always be remembered.”
It is safe to say that people like Dr Ruth herself appear once in a lifetime. Their selflessness, love, affection and concern for humanity will always stand out and leave a legacy for generations to cherish. Pakistan, however, is fortunate because Dr Ruth chose us. She came here as a stranger and left as one of our own.
Back in 2014, when she was asked if she would have worked for another country had she been given the opportunity, she said: “No. In my life, if there was one correction that I could make, it would be to come to Pakistan three years earlier than I did.”
“Every patient is a life story, and we enjoyed helping them all,” said Dr Ruth.
Her funeral mass will be held at St Patrick's Cathedral on August 19, said the obituary by MALC Chief Executive Mervyn Lobo.