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July 22, 2020

Darul Sukoon incharge Sister Ruth Lewis passes away

Karachi

July 22, 2020

Sister Ruth Lewis, the incharge of Darul Sukoon, a centre for underprivileged persons with disabilities, died from COVID-19 at a hospital in Karachi on Monday night. She was 77. The Catholic nun was on a ventilator at the Agha Khan Hospital after contracting the virus on July 8.

Twenty-one children of Darul Sukoon have been infected with the novel coronavirus and have been put under quarantine. Sister Ruth continued to serve them until she tested positive on July 8 and was taken to hospital a day later, where she was moved onto a ventilator, according to officials.

In a statement on Facebook, Darul Sukoon expressed deep regret and grief over the passing of Sister Ruth. “Her services to humanity and the destitute, severely disabled children and elderly, socially displaced girls and boys is remarkable. Her service spans around 51 years.”

On February 17, 1969, Sister Ruth, Sister Gertrude Lemmens and Sister Margaret D’Costa joined the Karachi home for around 150 physically and mentally challenged people, mostly children and teenagers, founded by the sisters of the Franciscan Missionaries of Christ the King, said the statement posted on Facebook.

“Since then there was no turning back. She took care of such children all her life. The children whom their own families abandoned, children who were called monsters because of deformities and chronic disability, children whose sight could traumatise a layman, children whom people visited to cherish their fully functional body and brain.

But Sister Ruth became their mother. They were not ‘objects of misery and charity’ to her but her own children, each unique. She worked tirelessly to make their personality. In such a world where people hire maids and nannies to clean the mess of their own children, she wiped their bums and noses with bare hands.”

The organisation appreciated the remarkable contribution and support of the Sindh government, particularly Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and Deputy Commissioner Ahmed Ali Siddiqui, along with the Pakistan Peoples Party leadership for always having the organisation’s back in difficult times.

“The Sindh government paid all the hospitalisation costs of Sister Lewis and still the team members of the Sindh government are working in the specialised quarantine ward set up in the premises of Darul Sukun for the COVID affected disabled children of Dar ul Sukun. They have also provided a grant of Rs25 million instantly along with PPEs and medicines,” the organisation said.

Tributes poured in from government officials and activists after news of the nun’s death was announced. "Her selfless contributions to our society will always be remembered and cherished," said Murtaza Wahab, the Sindh government spokesman.

Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari, sister of PPP’s chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, said Sister Ruth's death was a "tragic loss for Darul Sukoon and the people of Karachi." She said the nun had selflessly dedicated her entire life to those in need and her dedication to the children of Darul Sukoon would always be remembered.