…and not all heroes wear capes
The passing of Dr Ruth Pfau was a blow to Pakistan’s medical and humanitarian community – as well it should be. For over fifty years, the German-Pakistani doctor dedicated herself for the treatment of leprosy in Pakistan, helping those affected by the disease live and hope for better lives.
This phenomenal woman, who is, unfortunately, not as well-known as she should be, was originally meant for a station in India – it was only a visa issue that kept her stuck in Karachi. For over five decades, this incredible woman travelled all over Pakistan – and even areas of Afghanistan – to rescue patients who had been abandoned or worse: locked away like monsters. As a survivor of World War II, one can only imagine the horrors and cruelty she must have seen as a young woman to finally devote her life to improving the lives of others. Facing similar treatment of minorities in the country she chose to make her home, her decision to remain and quietly work for and with them is a testament to her strength and courage.
Pakistan has been made stronger because of women and men like her. Our history is a history of immigration and courage and much more kindness than we could have ever expected from complete strangers. People wondering why a nun deserves a state funeral in an “Islamic Republic” would do well to find out more about her work – she deserves it, and much, much more. We urge the Pakistani public to learn more about leprosy and to pressure concerned authorities to funding research and aid for those affected by the disease in honour of this great woman – and in honour of the country and the people she believed in.