To Light A Candle And Keep It Burning (PB) By: Ruth Pfau

To Light A Candle And Keep It Burning (PB) By: Ruth Pfau

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KARACHI: Dr Ruth Katharina Martha Pfau, a German nun who dedicated her life to eradicating leprosy in Pakistan and was popularly called country's Mother Teresa died here at the age of 87.


She died in hospital after being admitted last Friday, her order said. Her funeral service will be held on August 19 at 11am St Patrick's Church in Karachi. She will then be buried at the Christian cemetery on Shahrah-e-Faisal.

In recognition of the services rendered by late Ruth Pfau for Pakistan, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has announced State funeral for her. “The entire nation is indebted to Ruth Pfao for her selfless and unmatched services for eradication of leprosy.

“She gave new hope to innumerable people and proved through her illustrious toil that serving humanity knows no boundaries. We are proud of her exemplary services and she will remain in our hearts as a shining symbol in times ahead,” prime minister said on hearing the news of her death.

Abbasi said Dr Pfau "may have been born in Germany, but her heart was always in Pakistan".

Mervyn F Lobo, Chief Executive Officer, Marie Adelaide Leprosy Center (MALC) in a statement here Thursday announced that she has passed away. “Dr Pfau, the founding member of MALC and also a member of Daughters of the Heart of Mary (DHM) had passed away late night Wednesday due to age related health condition and associated complications,” Lobo said.

A recipient of Hilal-e-Imtiaz (1979) and Nishan-e-Quaid-e-Azam (1989), German Staufer Medal (2015) Dr Pfau first visited Pakistan in 1960, consequently making the country her regular abode, granted Pakistan’s permanent citizenship in 1988.

Holding a dual nationality of Germany and Pakistan, she also played an important role in bringing the people of two countries closer to each other.

Dr Pfau set up clinics across the country. Her efforts meant that in 1996 Pakistan became one of the first countries in Asia to be declared free of leprosy.

Harald Meyer-Porzky from the Ruth Pfau Foundation in Würzburg said Dr Pfau had "given hundreds of thousands of people a life of dignity".

Dr Pfau was born in Leipzig in 1929 and saw her home destroyed by bombing during World War II.

She studied medicine and was later sent to southern India by her order, the Daughters of the Heart of Mary, but a visa issue meant she became stuck in Karachi, where she first became aware of leprosy.

"Well if it doesn't hit you the first time, I don't think it will ever hit you," she told the BBC in 2010.

"Actually the first patient who really made me decide was a young Pathan. He crawled on hands and feet into this dispensary, acting as if this was quite normal, as if someone has to crawl there through that slime and dirt on hands and feet, like a dog."

She trained Pakistani doctors and attracted foreign donations, founding Pakistan's National Leprosy Control Programme and the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre, which has a presence in every province.

Dr Pfau also won praise for her efforts in helping the victims of devastating floods in south-western Pakistan in 2010.

She wrote four books in German about her work in Pakistan, including To Light A Candle, which has been translated into English.

Her death has been condoled across the country. Chief of Army Staff, celebrities and people from other walks of life paid tribute to her.

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