KARACHI : Dr Ruth Pfau, the founder of Marie Adelaide Leprosy Center (MALC), was laid to rest in Gora Qabaristan following a state funeral held today amid high security.
President Mamnoon Hussain, Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah and Sindh Governor Muhammad Zubair were in attendance along with officials from the German Consulate in Karachi.
Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (Operations) Vice Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, Corp Commander Karachi, DG Sindh and IG Sindh also attended the funeral rites.
The highest ranking Catholic bishop of the Karachi diocese, Joseph Coutts presided over the requiem mass of Dr Pfau at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, following which the body was taken for burial in Gora Qabaristan situated at Shara-e-Faisal.
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Pfau was part of a congregation of educationists, Daughters of the Heart of Mary, which was headed for social work to India. When they stopped in Pakistan for a short while, she had to stay back due to some visa problems. It seemed fate had other plans.
“When I and another girl from the order beheld the plight of leprosy patients in Pakistan, we were so moved that we decided to stay on as health workers,” recalled Pfau.
It was a single visit to the leprosy patients’ colony in 1960 on the McLeod Road, Karachi (currently the I I Chundrigar Road), which unsettled her most deeply. And then there was no looking back. The leprosy centre built by Pfau is named after Marie Adelaide, one of the founders of the congregation established in 1790 to salvage Catholic values from large scale de-Christianisation during the French Revolution. She had treated over 50,000 families since the inception of the centre.
With her efforts, in 1996, the World Health Organisation declared Pakistan one of the first countries in Asia to have controlled leprosy. She was awarded the Hilal-e-Pakistan in 1989 and Hilal-e-Imtiaz in 1979 by the government of Pakistan.
Fondly dubbed ‘Pakistan’s magic healer’ Dr Ruth Pfau passed away on August 10, 2017, at the age of 87 in Karachi.
National training coordinator MALC Dr Zafar talking to The Express Tribune said, a majority of foreign delegates, Dr Pfau’s students and patients arrived in Karachi only to participate in the funeral ceremony.