Someone is perfect in speeches, in giving lush promises, putting on a solemn face and knows all about successful advertising. She had little time for marketing and interviews, they say she got up at 3:30 am, devoted all her time to the service 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.” And she did for them much more than many popular politicians. Why Mother Teresa devoted herself to others?
Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu was born in 1910 in Skopje (then – the Ottoman Empire), in a wealthy family. Her father, a prominent businessman, politician, philanthropist and fighter for the independence of Albania, died under mysterious circumstances when Agnes was only eight years old. Father’s business partner took all the company’s assets leaving nothing to widow with three children, and the family had very difficult times. But the widow was not only able to feed her children, but also helped the poor of Skopje and neighborhood, and later raised several orphans. This example was very impressive.
Since childhood Agnes was fascinated by stories of missionaries and in 18 years old she joined the monastic order “Irish Sisters of Loreto” and left home to become a missionary in India. She never again saw her family. A few years later, Agnes takes vows as a nun and the name Teresa in honor of the canonized in 1927 by nuns Therese of Lisieux, the patron saint of missionaries.
India is one of the countries where poverty is visible on every street corner, in the most blatant form of it. After nearly 20 years of teaching in a missionary school in Calcutta, during one of her trips around the country Teresa once again saw the horrors of starvation and disease. That was the time when she decided to give up the quiet life in the convent and live among the poor, directly in slums. She took Indian citizenship, passed basic medical courses and, without any means of subsistence, settled among the poorest of the poor. Sister Teresa humbly became Mother Teresa. But the first months of such life were full of trials: she had to beg for food, had doubts and the temptation to return to a comfortable life in a monastery. At that time, she was only 38 years old.
Of course, she did not give up. First she established a school for the poor, then several young women joined Mother Teresa and laid the foundations to create a new religious community, whose main purpose was to take care of the poorest. In 1950, Mother Teresa received Vatican permission to establish such a community and later it became world famous organization – Missionaries of Charity. Indian officials quickly noticed and appreciated the activities of sisters, many volunteers started coming to the organization and it received numerous donations. By 1960s the organization had opened hospices, orphanages and leper houses all over India, in 1965 the first hospice abroad (in Venezuela) was opened. Over the next 15 years many more houses and foundations were opened in dozens of countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and the United States.
A nun, who could teach girls in a quiet monastery in the mountains until the end of her days, started a worldwide movement of charity. Missionaries of Charity began as a small organization with 13 members in 1950, and today there are about 5,000 of its members working in more than 130 countries. The organization runs orphanages, hospices for AIDS patients and charity centers worldwide; provides care and support to refugees, the blind, the disabled, the elderly, alcoholics, the poor and the homeless, victims of floods, epidemics and famine.
There are several documentaries and feature films about Mother Teresa; the largest international airport of Albania is named after her; a coin issued in India in 2010 is dedicated to her; she was granted several honorary awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize. All valuable gifts that she often received she was selling, and money she donated to charity. Yes, there was criticism, including in relation to the non-use of the latest advances in medicine, the lack of involvement of medical staff, her firm stand against abortion and contraception, her view on suffering, etc. In response, she said: “If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway!” She knew that if people loved each other more, most of the injustice in the world would disappear overnight.