Created by atrulaske on Apr 2, 2009
Last updated: 11/04/09 at 01:22 AM
Mother Teresa died on September 5th, 1997. She had struggled with numerous health issues throughout her last years but that never stopped her from giving and helping the world. She continued to give until her last day. She had suffered from a weakening heart attack in 1983 and kept her heart on close watch while continuing her charity work. In 1991 she battled with pneumonia for a long time and continued to struggle. This set her back from her work because she was bed ridden for most of the time and it was very hard for her to do this. After her death in 1997, she was beatified by the pope in 2002 and became a saint.
In 1979, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She was awarded it due to all her humanitarian work throughout her life. She was honored with it “for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitute a threat to peace.” When she was presented the Nobel Prize, she refused the conventional ceremonial banquet and asked that the money that she was presented with be given to the poor in Calcutta. When Mother Teresa received the prize she was asked, “What can we do to promote world peace?” and her answer was, “Go home and love your family.” The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded annually to the person who “shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” Many people agree that Mother Teresa meets the criteria of the Peace Prize and that she deserves the peace prize. It is most outstanding that she has donated all of the money she has received from not only the Nobel Peace Prize but all of the awards she has won, to the improvement of the world.
Not only did mother Teresa see that it was important to help those in need in India but she saw that it was crucial to help all over the globe. In the late 1950’s and 1960’s, Mother Teresa opened numerous homes outside of India. The first home that was opened up by The Missionaries Charity, outside of India was opened up in Venezuela in 1965 with five sisters. After that followed one in Rome, Tanzania, and Austria in 1968. During the 1970’s, the order opened up houses and foundations in dozens of countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the United States. Mother Teresa faced a lot of criticism during this time period because of her outlook on suffering and also much criticism from India. Many Indians thought she would abandon her work there and start all over in other countries.
After Mother Teresa had been working so much with children who were suffering from Leprosy and other diseases, she decided to help the poor children of the streets. She and the Missionaries Charity started taking in an increasing number of sick children along with lost and unwanted children. She felt the need to create a home for them. In 1955, Mother Teresa opened the Nirmala Shishu Bhavan, the Children’s Home of the Immaculate Heart. This was a safe haven for the orphans and homeless youth of India. This home was dear to Mother Teresa because of her love of Children. She loved seeing the children here and taking care of them. Here, along with Mother Teresa were other Sisters and volunteers who taught the children how to read and write. This gave the children a safe place to play and learn. Another thing that Mother Teresa taught them here was good hygiene. She did not want to have to send them to the Leper colony, or have them become a victim of another terribly disease because of bad hygiene.
Leprosy is a chronic disease where bacteria invade the body. If left untreated it can cause serious skin damage, and damage to your joints and bones. In the mid 1950’, Mother Teresa began helping those who suffer from Leprosy, or Hansen’s Disease. The Missionaries Charity facilitated many Leprosy clinics throughout Calcutta, providing medication, bandages, and food. Mother Teresa built a Home for victims of Leprosy. Later, the Indian government granted the Missionaries Charity a thirty-four acre plot of land near Asansol in India. Here, Mother Teresa established a Leper Colony called Shanti Nagar or Town of Peace. After the colony was established, Pope Paul VI placed the Missionaries Charity under control of the Papacy. He also gave Mother Teresa permission to expand her help to Lepers and she created hundreds of other outreach programs for not only Lepers but also people who suffer from other debilitating diseases.
In 1952, Mother Teresa opened the first Home for the dying or Nirmal Hriday. The space was given to her by the city of Calcutta. With the help of Indian officials she transformed an abandoned Hindu temple into the Kalighat Home for the Dying. It was essentially a place of free hospice for the poor, where the people who could not afford medical help, received it for free in the time before their death. Mother Teresa was not subjective to people with a specific amount of time left in their life. As long as you were sick with a terminal illness and in need she would help you. She provided these people with care and comfort and their medication for pain. She did not want any of these people to suffer. She renamed it late the Home of the Pure Heart. There was also something very unique about this special facility. The people brought to the home received medical attention and were given the opportunity to die in peace and with dignity according to their religious beliefs. Muslims were read the Quran, Hindus received water from the Ganges, and Catholics received the Last Rites. This place was very important to Mother Teresa because she believed, "A beautiful death, is for people who lived like animals to die like angels — loved and wanted."
While traveling through the slums of Calcutta, she noticed the lack of common but needed facilities that were reachable by the poor people like hospitals and clinics. This moved her to learn basic medicinal techniques and began treating people in need who could not afford medication. These efforts by Mother Teresa influenced her pupils to form a group known as “Missionaries of Charity”. This group soon started a facility where poor people who were dying on the streets could come and be taken care of. This inspired many people to join the cause and help, and donate money to the facility in order to be successful. Many people offered their buildings, time, clothing, food, and support to this organization and to Mother Teresa. Her intentions in starting this organization were to help ”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.” This organization started with a mere twelve people and now has over four thousand sisters who have joined in order to improve the lives of millions of people. Hundreds of facilities have been built for this mission.
In 1929, mother Teresa reached India feeling that she had done all she can in Ireland. When she got there she was assigned to teach geography at Saint Mary’s high school for girls in Calcutta, which is south of Darjeeling. At this time in Calcutta, the streets were packed with beggars, poor people, homeless, and lepers. Seeing the streets of Calcutta helped her realize the true hardships of many parts of the world. She sees these ailing people of India and forces herself to give up Sisters of Loreto. She says “I heard the call to give up all and follow Christ into the slums to serve him among the poorest of the poor.” In 1948 she decided to leave the missionary and embarked on her own work. This was a difficult task for mother Teresa. She had to leave her convent, and go out onto the streets to help these people. She had to receive permission from the Archbishop of Calcutta to serve the poor freely on the streets. She had to come up with ways to live safely on the streets without the comfort of the convent. She decided to give up the clothes she had worn as a Sister of Loreto for the past years and wear the traditional clothing of an Indian woman, a white Sari and sandals. This year, she decided to start and open school for slum-children. She had no funds but depended on the Divine Providence which is essentially God watching over. She used the tools, like writing in the dirt, to help teach the children to write and to teach them common hygiene. Soon she was joined by voluntary helpers, and the financial support was approaching.
Mother Teresa was called to religious life when she was eighteen years old and she chose the Loreto Sister of Dublin, founded in the seventeenth century, in Ireland. In 1928 she moved across the world and joined these sisters to educate young girls. This missionary was very famous for working in Calcutta, India. This was a difficult move for Agnes; it was the last time she saw her mother and no one could understand her foreign language. When she took her vows at Sisters of Loreto to become a nun, she chose the name, Saint Therese of Lisieux. When she arrived at Sisters of Loreto, Mother Teresa was immediately asked to join the missionaries and travel to India to help the poor and hungry children there. She gently refused to go with them. She saw too many sick, poor, and uneducated children in Ireland, and too little people to help.
Mother Teresa was born on August 26th 1910, however; she claimed that she was really born on the 27th of August in 1910 because that was the day of her baptism. She was born in Skopje Macedonia to Nikola and Dronda. Her birth name was Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. Her family was of Albanian descent. Her parents were grocers and at the time of her birth Macedonia was a part of the Ottoman Empire. There were five children born into that family however, only three survived. She had an older sister Aga, and a brother Lazar. The brother described his family as well off in the early years and that they did not live the life of peasants. Her Father Nikola was a successful contractor working with a partner in a contacting business. He was also well involved in politics and died a sudden death which his son, Lazar believes was poisoning by someone also in politics with his father. At this time, Aga was only age fourteen, Lazar, nine, and Agnes, seven. Now her mother received total control of the family. Much of Mother Teresa’s young life was centered on religion. Her family worshiped daily.