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Who Is Ruth Pfau, the so-called ‘Mother Teresa of Pakistan’

Ruth Pfau has been an extremely important figure to the people of Pakistan. Throughout her life, in fact, she has always done her best to help others. Precisely for this reason, many today call her the 'Mother Teresa of Pakistan'. As a doctor and a nun, she dedicated much of her life to fighting leprosy in Pakistan. In fact, she has coordinated the activities of hundreds of hospitals throughout the country. For this reason she was the first woman to get a state funeral in Pakistan.

ruth pfau

Ruth Pfau has been an extremely important figure to the people of Pakistan. Throughout her life, in fact, she has always done her best to help others. Precisely for this reason, many today call her the ‘Mother Teresa of Pakistan‘. Let’s discover together the exploits of this incredible woman.

The Life of Ruth Pfau

Ruth Pfau was a doctor and a nun of the ‘Daughters of Mary’s Heart‘. As a doctor, she dedicated much of her life to fighting leprosy in Pakistan. Born in Leipzig, then East Germany, on September 9, 1929, Pfau moved with her family to Mainz (West Germany) where she studied medicine.

After embracing religious life, she went with her religious order to India in the late 1950s. However, due to a visa problem Pfau had to stop in Karachi, Pakistan. And that is exactly where her actually story began.

The Inspiration

In an interview, she said that it was one episode in particular that prompted her to embark on her battle. One day she saw a young Afghan patient crawling on his hands and feet. He acted as if it was normal for a human being to crawl like that, in the slime and mud. Unfortunately, in fact, the population saw the sick with contempt. Some of them were even pushed into the desert so that the wild animals would eliminate them.

Driven by a desire to change things, Ruth decided to found the Marie Adelaide Centre in Karachi. At first it only treated the leprosy sufferers, but then it started tuberculosis prevention programmes. Thus, patients began to arrive from all over Pakistan and even Afghanistan. She was nicknamed the ‘Mother Teresa of Pakistan‘ because of her activity and the features on her face that reminded many of the saint of Calcutta.

State Funerals for Ruth Pfau

Thanks to her determination and her studies in medicine, Ruth Pfau has coordinated the activities of hundreds of hospitals throughout Pakistan. In particular, she has trained new doctors and obtained donations from all over the world. But she has also taken care of social aspects related to the recovery of healed people.

In 1979 she was appointed Councillor of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and in 1988 she obtained Pakistani nationality. After her death in Karachi on August 10, 2017, she was honoured with the celebration of the state funeral. This is important as she was the first woman ever in the history of Pakistan.

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