Doctor Zilda Arns, foundress and coordinator of the Brazilian humanitarian service known as Catholic Pastoral Care for Poor Children, was killed in the violent earthquake that struck the capital of Haiti and its environs this past Tuesday. She had arrived in Haiti a week earlier to participate in a series of meetings on the subject of malnutrition and was in a church with 150 other people when the quake struck, causing the roof of the building to collapse on those inside.
A pediatrician by profession, Zilda Arns was deeply concerned about the many childhood illnesses that could be prevented or decreased through simple health care practices and basic instruction. Because of this, in collaboration with the National Conference of the Bishops of Brazil, she founded Pastoral da Criança?a health-care service for poor children. The purpose of the service is to teach mothers in economically depressed areas the importance of proper nutrition and basic hygiene. Each woman is then encouraged to share what she learns with other women. Although the program is very simple, it has proved to be extremely effective.
Thanks to her efforts in this sphere, Dr. Zilda was one of the best-known people in Brazil and her humanitarian activities made her a three-time contender for the Nobel Peace Prize. Dr. Arns is the sister of Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, the former Archbishop of Sao Paulo.
?She died the way she would have wanted,? Cardinal Arns said, ?fighting for the cause to which she had dedicated her life.