By Devin Watkins
Known across Pakistan as the “Mother of the Forgotten,” Sister Ruth Lewis spent her life caring for children with disabilities in the city of Karachi.
A nun of the Franciscan Missionaries of Christ the King, she helped found the Dar ul Sukun home for people with mental and physical disabilities in February 1969.
For over 51 years, Sr Ruth was a mother to children who had been abandoned by their families.
Dedicated in face of danger
She showed the same dedication and care for the 150 people hosted by the shelter when the novel coronavirus breached its doors.
At least 21 children tested positive for Covid-19, but Sr Ruth strove on.
She contracted the disease herself, and on July 8th was taken to hospital, where she was placed on a ventilator.
Then, on 20 July, Sr Ruth breathed her last at Aga Khan Hospital. She was 77 years old.
‘Icon of love, care, compassion’
The Dar ul Sukun home, which the nun had directed since 2000, expressed their sadness in a Facebook post.
“All our children, nuns and staff are heartbroken,” they said, “as we have lost a huge part of us. Please pray for the children to whom she has been a mother, for the nuns for whom she was a sister and a true inspiration, and for all the staff who love her and will each day try to walk in her footsteps.”
The charity said Sr Ruth’s services to humanity were truly remarkable. “She was the icon of love, care, and true compassion.”
‘Years of devotion’
Tributes to Sr Ruth poured in from people of all walks of life.
Fr. Nasir William, director of the local Commission for Social Communications, expressed the Islamabad-Rawalpindi Diocese’s “deepest condolence” to her family and friends. “You will be missed every day,” he said.
“Pakistan has lost a great asset,” according to Aseefa Bhutto Zardari. The daughter of PM Benazir Bhutto and former President Asif Ali Zardari added that Sr Ruth’s “years of devotion to the children of Dar ul Sukun will always be remembered.”
The governor of Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital, called her a “true inspiration.”
“Karachi [will] always remember her selfless service for differently abled and socially displaced children and elderly,” said Governor Imran Ismail.