City Museums – Dr Ruth Pfau Muesum, Saddar

How does one explain existence of people like Dr Ruth Pfau in this age? In a world where we are trained to ask for more and more, how can someone spend his or her lifetime serving people without any want? Unconditional service. In a world defined by expectations and assurances.

Dr Ruth Pfau was born in Leipzig in 1929 and witnessed horrors of World War Two. She studied medicine in her home country and joined Daughters of the Heart of Mary, a christian order in Paris at later stage. It was on her order’s instructions that she left Germany for Southern India. However due to a visa issue, she got stuck in Karachi. The year was 1960.

In late 50s, a volunteer group comprising of Mrs. Beatrix Menezes, Sr. Bernice Vargas, Dr. Anne Rochs and Sr. Mary Doyalehere had already established a Lepers’ Colony behind McLeod Road (new II Chundrigar). Leprosy had a lot of social stigmas attached with it in subcontinent. Elders were marginalized socially and economically and children were parted from families and confined to caves or barns. It did not take long for Dr Ruth Pfau to join the volunteer group and call Karachi home. She was 31 years of age.

She told 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 realized the need of a proper leprosy hospital and with some help from Germany she founded a small clinic in Saddar in 1963. She was instrumental in getting official support and in 1968 Govt. of Pakistan initiated a National Leprosy Center in partnership with Marie Adelaide Leprosy Center. Under MALC umbrella, Dr Ruth Pfau visited far corners of the country to reach patients who had been written off by their own families. Because of her efforts, Pakistan was declared leprosy free country in 1996. Under her guidance MALC established programmes for controlling TB and blindness in addition to eliminating leprosy. Dr Ruth Pfau remained committed to MALC cause until she breathed her last in Karachi on 10th of August 2017. She was 87 years old. She was operating out of a small apartment in MALC head quarters in Saddar.

Dr Ruth Pfau Museum is a tribute to her and her values. Her tiny bedroom is kept in the same conditions except for some photos that seem to have been hanged later. It comprises of a bed, desk and a shelf. Her living room only has a shelf and dinning table with chairs. A new bookshelf has her private collection of books on display. She was an avid reader and has written several books herself in German. Only one of her book has been translated in English. It’s called ‘To Light A Candle And Keep It Burning’. In a small room on far end, her personal items such as mobile phone, type writer and glass frames have been kept. She has been awarded several civil awards by Government of Pakistan and Germany. This humble museum is a perfect tribute to Dr Ruth Pfau and values she lived.






Categories: City Museums

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2 Comments on “City Museums – Dr Ruth Pfau Muesum, Saddar”

  1. Zafar
    October 26, 2019 at 8:17 pm #

    Leprosy center helped a very dear person to me.

    He had Skin leprosy.
    He received tx.His leprosy was cured.
    Very good article.

  2. Engr Gulzar Ahmed Memon
    November 13, 2019 at 5:38 pm #

    Very Beautiful tribute to Dr Ruth Pfau. In fact she deserve more and more.

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