Zahid Hussain Khan, Karachi
Updated: July 23, 2020 10:44 AM GMT
Sister Ruth Lewis worked with the severely disabled for more than half a century. (Photo supplied)
The government of Pakistan’s Sindh province has posthumously nominated Sister Ruth Lewis for the country’s highest civilian award for her services to humanity and Pakistan.
The 77-year-old Catholic nun, who was in charge of Darul Sukoon home for underprivileged persons with disabilities, died from Covid-19 in a Karachi hospital on July 20 after being on a ventilator for 12 days.
“The Sindh government has written to the federal government strongly recommending that Sister Ruth be conferred a posthumous Sitara e Imtiaz for her services to humanity and Pakistan. The chief minister of Sindh has also personally spoken to President [Arif] Alvi requesting the conferment,” Murtaza Wahab, a spokesman for the provincial government, said.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, head of the party ruling of Sindh province, also paid tribute to the late nun.
“Flag of Pakistan lost another unsung hero, Sister Ruth Lewis, who devoted her life to serving children at Darul Sukoon. People of Karachi will always miss her and people of Pakistan must learn about her. Request President Arif Alvi to posthumously award her for her services to humanity,” Bhutto tweeted.
Born on May 2, 1946, Sister Ruth was a member of the Franciscan Missionaries of Christ the King, a congregation for women.
Along with Sister Gertude Lemmens and Sister Margared D’ Costa, she was among the founding staff of Darul Sukoon on Feb. 17, 1969. The center is home to around 150 cognitively disadvantaged and physically challenged persons, mostly children and teenagers.
She had been in charge of Darul Sukoon since 2000. Due to her integrity and dedication to the welfare of the neglected members of society, a number of people assisted her financially as well as through volunteer work.
She encouraged volunteers from schools and other organizations to help feed the children and play with them. She was also assisted by volunteers from the Netherlands who stayed to help for up to three months as a result of her personal efforts.
Besides financial assistance from the government of Sindh, the organization runs on charity and donations from private donors.
She was particularly proud of four of the children who won medals at the Special Olympics held in the US in 1998.
For her vision of creating an inclusive society of persons with disabilities so that they could contribute to the mainstream, she continuously worked hard to make state-of-the-art rehabilitation, protection, independent living and skill development centers nationwide for 51 years. Her selfless contribution to society will always be remembered and cherished.
She was also the recipient of the Pride of Karachi Award (2014) and Hakeem Muhammad Saeed Award (2008).
The Interfaith Commission for Peace and Harmony also requested the president of Pakistan posthumously award her for her services to humanity.
“Sister Ruth Lewis has always been a chapter in history. She will live in the hearts. May her departed soul rest in eternal peace,” ICPH chairman Allama Muhammad Ahsan Siddiqui said in a statement.