You don’t have to be born in a country to belong to it, and Sister Dr. Ruth Martha Pfau was an embodiment of that.
Born in Germany in September 1929, she passed away in Pakistan on Thursday, August 10, 2017.
A nun in the Society of Daughters of the Heart of Mary, Dr. Pfau was instrumental in controlling leprosy in the country. Pakistan was one the first Asian countries that the World Health Organization had commended for controlling the disease in 1996.
She had visited the country in 1960, after a visa kerfuffle brought her to the port city Karachi in Pakistan instead of India where her order her originally sent her. After witnessing the disease in Pakistan, she decided that its treatment and eradication was going to be her cause. She was devoted to her cause and the country she had adopted as her home. Dr. Pfau was also referred to as the “Mother Teresa of Pakistan.”
Dr. Pfau established the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre in the coastal megapolis of Karachi, where patients from all over the country, as well as Afghanistan came in for treatment. She also visited far-flung areas in the country where there was no medical help on hand, bringing treatment to patients most in need of it.
She was awarded an honorary Pakistani citizenship in 1988. A year later she was honoured with a Hilal e Pakistan, the second highest civilian award, by the President of Pakistan. She was also the recipient of the Nishan e Quaid e Azam in 2010 and her native country, Germany had recognized her services to humanity with an Staufer Gold Medal.
Her funeral mass is scheduled for Saturday, August 19, at the St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Karachi and she will be laid to rest in the city’s Gora Qabristan afterwards.