Her sobriety could make anyone look up to her, as a child does to their mother. Her persona was divine, and her love was unconditional. Her deeds for humanity have been unmatched and her views about it equally inspiring!
“We sometimes think that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” These gracious words came from the kindhearted lady whom the world knows by the name of Mother Teresa. She not only said these words but also put all her efforts in this direction for most of her life. Despite the fact that she wasn’t an Indian by birth, Mother Teresa of Calcutta came to India as a blessing to many poor, homeless, sick, and drug-addicted people of the country.
This 26th day of August is the 106th birth anniversary of Mother Teresaand a perfect time to honorher and her compassion for humanity.
A few facts about her life and service that everyone should know
- She wasn’t an Indian by birth! Though a major part of her life was devoted to the welfare of poor, sick and needy Indians, it would come as a surprise to many that her birth and early childhood did not take place in India. She was born to a Kosovar Albanian family in Skopje, Macedonia on 26th of August, 1910. She adopted the citizenship of India in 1948.
- Her actual name wasn’t Teresa Her parents, DranafileBojaxhiu and Nikollë, named her as AnjezëGonxheBojaxhiu. In 1931, when she took her first vows of religion, she chose the name, Teresa.
- She could feel the call of God at the tender age of 12! When most children are busy playing with toys or struggling with their education, Mother Teresaknew precisely what her mission was. The stories of missionaries working in Bengal intrigued her since early childhood. She left home in 1928, when she was 18, to join Sisters of Loreto, and never met her family after that.
- Her poverty-struck surroundings moved her to the core Being associated with Sisters of Loreto, she received training for a few months in Dublin and was sent to India in 1931. She then took her initial vows as a nun and started her service for the society at St. Mary’s High School in Calcutta, as a teacher.
- But something was still incomplete! The poverty and sufferings of people in and around Calcutta swayed her and with permissions of her superiors, she left the school to serve the poorest people insociety. And that was the time her mission to care for humankind set off.
- She left for Calcutta in 1946 to pursue the faith God has bestowed upon her She lived amongst the poor, to be able to help them. She later described this action of hers as “the call within the call”, not following which would have meant to “break the faith.”She took elementary medical training in Patna to equip herself better for her mission and then set out into the slums of Calcutta. First, she started a school, and later indulged herself to attending to the needs of the deprived and destitute.The first year of her mission was full of adversities. There was no source of money. At times she even had to beg for food and day-to-day essentials. But the strong-willed lady withstood everything and did not give up.
- Soon some like-minded young women joined Mother Teresa In early 1949, a few young women who had the similar intent of serving the poor joined Mother Teresa. A new religious community, which decided to extenda helping hand to ‘the poorest of poor’, took shape. The government soon noticed Mother Teresa’s dedicated efforts and the Prime Minister appreciated her.
- Creation of Missionaries of Charity In October 1950, Mother Teresa received Vatican approval to create the diocesan congregation which was the Missionaries of Charity. Initially, it only had 13 members and was restricted to the city of Calcutta. Its mission, as Mother Teresa puts it, was to take care of “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone”. One of the biggest achievements of this organization was to turn into an International Religious Family after being recognized by Pope Paul IV in 1965.
- Some more feathers in her already glorious cap Her first home for the dyingopened in Calcutta in 1952. Named the Kalighat Home for Dying, it was a free hospice for the needy. Later, she established Shanti Nagar, a nursing home for sufferers of leprosy. Nirmala ShishuBhavan, a home for orphans and houseless youth,cameinto existence in 1955. By the end of 1960, Missionaries of Charity had expanded a lot in terms of volunteers as well as donations and had its presence throughout the country. Five years later, the society took a step ahead towards their international outreach. By the end of 21st century, they had their presence across 123 countries with more than 450 centers and over 4000 nuns working for them.
- Her high spirits for service even in old age At the age of 73, Mother Teresa had her first heart attack,post which her health consistently deteriorated. But the determined lady continued to serve against all odds and opted out only in March 1997. Unfortunately, the noble soul lost the battle of life on 5thSeptember 1997.
- Feats of Mother Teresa She was awarded Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in 1980. Other awards that she was honored with, by the Indian government, are Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding, and Padma Shri. Her international achievements include Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding, Pope John XXIII Peace Prize, and the Nobel Peace Prize.
A truly inspiring quote by the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta–‘In this life, we cannot always do great things, but we can do small things with great love’. There are so many issues in our society that rouse us and force us to take action. Putting in personal efforts may not be possible for everyone because of private, family or social engagements or even simply because of unwillingness. But there are some people with inspiration and determination, like that of Mother Teresa, andare involved in noble causes. If these people can devote their life, or even a small bit of it, to serve the society, the least common men can and should do, is to support them financially and non-financially.
We at Dreamwallets urge you to do the small bits you can and see people around you smile. There are so many campaigns at Dreamwallets that need and expect your support and encouragement.
You can contribute to help rural children of India study. You can also help the differently-abled children to gain education and hencethe ability to earn a livelihood for themselves, by making your contributionforLivelihood for the Differently-Abled campaign.