Karachi (Agenzia Fides) - "We are pleased and proud that the Pakistani government has bestowed Sister Ruth Lewis 'posthumously' with the Sitara-e-Imtiaz (Star of Excellence) for her services to the society of this country. This award is among the highest civil honors in the Pakistani State and is awarded for special service to the nation in the field of culture and public life", said Cardinal Joseph Coutts, Archbishop Emeritus of Karachi, speaking with Agenzia Fides, and expresses appreciation to the Pakistani government for having rewarded a Catholic nun, who passed away in 2020, who dedicated 52 years of her life to the abandoned and marginalized children in Pakistan.
Cardinal Joseph Coutts states: "We thank Sister Ruth Lewis and the Sisters of the Franciscan Missionaries of Christ the King (FMCK) for their great work with children", said Cardinal Joseph Coutts. "In 1959, the FMCK sisters responded to the growing demand in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi and agreed to accompany and care for children with mental and physical disabilities. After the death of the nursing home's founder, Sister Gertrude Lemmens, Sister Ruth Lewis assumed responsibility for running the home, which was dependent on donations. Thanks to her patient and constant work, Dar-ul-Sukun, i.e. the 'House of Peace and Love' has become the largest institution of its kind in the city with over 21 million inhabitants".
Recalling her faithful service at a service in memory of Sister Ruth, Cardinal Joseph Coutts remarked: "Sister Ruth Lewis was a very calm and humble person, she developed tremendous strength in serving these mentally and physically challenged children. She was known in civil society and among civil society NGOs in Karachi. The government of Sindh Province (whose capital is Karachi) valued her and the good works she did for 52 years. In the city she was known as the "mother of the Forgotten" and she lived up to her right to the last breath".
Sister Ruth Lewis lost the fight against the consequences of an infection with the coronavirus on July 20, 2020 (see Fides, 22/7/20). She had been on treatment since July 8 after testing positive for Covid-19. She was infected during her tireless services in the home where 21 children were found positive for Covid-19 in June 2020. The Pakistani government awarded her the posthumous award on March 23, 2021 on the occasion of "Pakistan Day". The award was received by Cookie, a former foster child of the home, who is now an employee of Dar-ul-Sukun. Cookie remembered the deceased Catholic nun as "her mother" and said: "Sister Ruth was the mother of all the children of Dar-ul-Sukun. She took care of all of us like a mother takes care of her children".
For her selfless and passionate service to "special children" Ruth Lewis was awarded the "Pride of Karachi" award on January 18, 2014. In 2018 she was awarded the "Hakim Mohammad Saeed" award by the governor of Sindh for her service to humanity. As a sign of gratitude for the social work done, the Sindh government financed the construction of a three-story building on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the founding of Dar-ul-Sukun to meet the growing number of children in need. (AG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 15/4/2021)