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Zilda Arns

Arns in June 1, 2004
Born 25 August 1934(1934-08-25)
Forquilhinha, Santa Catarina, Brazil
Died 12 January 2010 (aged 75)
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Profession Pediatrician, Health care provider

Zilda Arns Neumann (August 25, 1934 – January 12, 2010) was a Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Brazilian pediatrician and aid worker.

A sister of Dom Paulo Evaristo Arns, the former Archbishop of São Paulo known for his efforts against the Brazilian military dictatorship, Zilda Arns became internationally known by founding a Catholic pastoral care for poor children. Her humanitarian work, which also included the poor and the elderly, spanned over three decades.[1]

Arns died on January 12, 2010 as a result of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.[2] The exact circumstances of her death are not yet known.



Born in the rural town of Forquilhinha to a family of German immigrants, Arns was one of the 13 children of Gabriel Arns (1890–1965) and Helene Arns (née Steiner) (1894–1974).[3] She was the aunt of Senator Flávio Arns.

Two of Arns' earliest memories were of seeing her father go door-to-door on his horse to help contain a smallpox epidemic and watching her mother arrange for a sick neighbour to be taken to the nearest hospital on the back of a cart, a journey of three hours.[4] Those selfless acts inspired her to contemplate life as a doctor, even though most of her siblings became priests or teachers.[4]

Having studied Medicine, she graduated from university in 1959, working in local hospitals tending to infants; she was then given charge of a string of clinics on the impoverished outskirts of the southern city of Curitiba.[4] Arns was the founder and international coordinator of Pastoral da Criança.[5] She also coordinated Pastoral da Pessoa Idosa, and social action organisms of the Episcopal Conference.

Widowed since 1978, a mother of five and grandmother of nine, she was awarded with several honorary citizen titles throughout Brazil. In 2006, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work.[6]

Holder of a degree in Medicine, Arns further studied public health, with the aim of assisting poor children in environments plagued with high child mortality rates, malnutrition and violence. Her approach was based on familial education in order to help decrease the rates of petty crime and preventable diseases.



President Lula and Senator Flávio Arns, among other authorities, in the funeral of Zilda Arns.

Zilda Arns was killed by the Haiti earthquake of 12 January 2010 in Port-au-Prince,[7] where she was carrying out humanitarian activities.

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Simple English

Dr. Zilda Arns (August 25, 1934 - January 13, 2010) was a Brazilian doctor and in 1983 set up the Children's Pastoral.[1] Children's Pastoral is a Catholic church based organization which teaches mother basic health care skills. It has saved the lives of thousands of babies in Brazil.

She was born in the south of Brazil to German parents.[1] She studied medicine at university and then set up clinics in Curitiba. She soon saw that much of the sickness, such as diarrhoea and dehydration could be prevented if parents knew how to care properly for their children.[2] In 1983, her brother, Paulo Evaristo Arns, a bishop in the Catholic Church encouraged her to set up Children's Pastoral.[1] It is now in 42,000 Brazilian communities, and has over 260,000 trained volunteers.[2]

In 2007, Arns was given the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public service.[3]

Arns was killed in the 2010 Haiti earthquake while speaking to a church group.[3] She had gone there on a visit to a missionary organization helping with the care of babies.[2][3]



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