Mother Teresa - An Angel Helping the Poor
'You flew to earth from the heaven,
to help the poorest of the poor,
to save the sickest of the sick,
like an angel with a pure heart;
Order that called you within the call
to serve the poor, the sick and the dying
piecing a home for the homeless
you commenced the same in Kalighat;’
"Oh Mother! I’ve to search and search for words to articulate all of your humble, great deeds. But my efforts in featuring you are null beside the sufferings and aches you experienced while searching a home for the poor. Your humanitarian service born from the call shines like a jewel everywhere in this world. You’re always with us through the smiles of the poor and unwanted. I pray you to root out poverty and starvation from this world and bring solace to all those afflicted hearts."
The charity missions for the poor, destitute and sick founded by Mother Teresa have brought light in numerous lives and this alms-giving service got birth from a call for her while she was traveling in a train to Darjeeling. In the Missionaries of Charity, she ministered to the poor, the sick, the orphaned and the dying first in India and then in the rest of the world. She is the blessed Mother of this earth to whom gratitude can never be compensated by any means.
Early life of Mother Teresa
Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu is the true name of Mother Teresa who was born on 26th August 1910.She was a Roman Catholic nun of Albanian origin and Indian citizenship. According to Vatican, she was born in Skopje, Macedonia. She was the youngest in her family from Shkoder, Albania born to Nikolle and Drana Bojaxhiu. Her father died when she was eight years old and was raised as a Roman Catholic. Agnes showed great interest in the stories of the lives of Missionaries in her early years. She left her home at the age of 18 to join the Sisters of Loreto from where onwards she never saw her family.
As Agnes wanted to do service in Bengal, India, she had to learn English, the language in which the sisters of Loreto used to teach the school children. She went to Dublin to get training and reached India in 1929. Her novitiate began in Darjeeling, near the Himalayan Mountains. On 24th May 1931, she took her initial vows to become a nun under the name ‘Teresa’ after her patroness, St. Therese of Lisieux. From 1931 to 1948, Teresa taught Geography and Catechism at St. Mary's High School in Calcutta.
She took her solemn vows on 14th May 1937. While Teresa enjoyed teaching, she was worried about the poverty surrounding in Bengal and was carried over by the Bengal famine that occurred in 1943. Hindu/Muslim riots in 1946 also shook the city thunderously leading to fear and despair. After teaching in the school for almost 20 years, she left the job and became a messenger of God for doing charity work.
Charity Centers in Calcutta
On 10th Sept. 1946, Teresa had a “call” to serve the poor while she was travelling in a train to Loreto Convent in Darjeeling. It was an order. She obeyed the order with full heart and faith without looking back in the later years. Teresa ventured into the slums and her first step was opening a school to educate the children who are born in streets. On October 7, 1950, Mother Teresa received permission from the Holy See to commence the order, "The Missionaries of Charity". With just 13 members, the order was launched and her relentless endeavors helped it grow to an International Missionary operating worldwide.
1. Kalighat, the Home of the Pure Heart (Nirmal Hriday)
In 1952, Kalighat Home was opened for the sick and the dying. It was an abandoned Hindu temple of goddess ‘Kali’ earlier. Mother named it ‘Nirmal Hriday’ as those who were brought to this home got the love and care from the Missionaries of Charity. Indian officials supported and helped her in achieving this mission.
2. Nirmala Shishu Bhavan (Home of the Immaculate Heart)
Mother Teresa's first orphanage was started in 1955. Many orphans and homeless youth got refuge in this Home of Immaculate Heart. It could provide continuous care and comfort for hundreds of mentally retarded and severely handicapped children. They were boarded in a nursery-cum-ward filled with light and toys. Many of these children are taken in adoption. The children on the adoption track are kept in a large house with several rooms turned into nurseries.
3. Shanti Nagar (City of Peace)
The year 1957 hosted the next venture of Mother Teresa. It was Shanti Nagar, a rescue home for those suffering from Hansen's disease, commonly known as leprosy. Medication, nursing, bandage and food were arranged for the diseased and were treated with much care. In 1958, The Gandhiji Prem Nivas Leprosy Center at Titagarh was opened which is a village within itself.
Here former patients provide service to the inmates by weaving cloths for the Missionaries of charity and also help in making sandals and soft cushions for the disabled and diseased.
Death of Mother Teresa
In 1983, Mother had the first heart attack during her visit to Rome to meet Pope John Paul II. Afterwards she suffered from health problems repeatedly which was a sign of her decline. Still she continued as the head of the order on account of the votes she got. On 13 March 1997, she descended the head of Missionaries of Charity. She died on 5 September 1997.
Considering the miracles associated with her life, she was beatified by Pope John Paul II and was awarded the title "Blessed Teresa of Calcutta" after her death. She was chosen by god to be the faithful servant for him in setting up the Missionaries of Charity to eradicate poverty. Teresa never broke her faith in this mission and her efforts got fruits both nationally and internationally.
Work without love is slavery
Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person
If you can't feed a hundred people, feed just one
A life not lived for others is not a life
Live simply so others may simply live
The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread
Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless
Peace begins with a smile— Mother Teresa
If each one of us could adopt what Mother said, how beautiful our earth would have been!!
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© 2012 Radhika Sreekanth