Essay No. 01
Mother Teresa was of Albanian origin and was born Agnes, Gonxha Bojaxhiu, in Macedonia on August 26th, 1970 in Macedonia. After the death of her father, her mother brought her up as a Roman Catholic. Her fascination of the lives of missionaries and their service led her to leave her parental home at the age of eighteen, and join the Sisters of Loreto, an Irish community of nuns with missions in India. After some initial training, she was sent to Darjeeling, India where she took her initial vows in 1931. It is at this time that she chose the name Teresa after Therese de Lisieucx, the patron saint of missionaries. She took her final wows in 1937 while serving as a teacher at the Loreto convent school in Calcutta. The suffering and poverty she witnessed outside the convent walls left an indelible impression on her and in 1948 she felt compelled to leave the comfort of her convent to devote herself exclusively to working with the poor in the slums of Calcutta.
She replaced her traditional Loreto habit with a simple white cotton sari decorated with a blue border when she started venturing into the slums. In 1950, the Vatican permitted her to start the Missionaries of Charity whose mission was to care for the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, and all those people who felt unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that were perceived as a burden to the society and shunned by everyone.
What started out as a small order with 13 members without any monetary aid is today 4,000 nuns strong and running various orphanages, AIDS hospices, and charity centres all around the globe; providing succour to the blind, the disabled, aged, alcoholics, the poor, the homeless, and victims of floods, epidemics and famine. Those brought to the home received medical attention and were given the opportunity to die with dignity, according to the rituals of their faith; Muslims were read the Quran, Hindus received, water from the Ganges, and Catholics received the Last Rites. Misery had a formidable and implacable foe in the compassionate Mother Teresa. The hungry in Ethiopia, radiation victims at Chernobyl, and earthquake victims in Armenia, all received, Mothers loving care. At the height of siege in Beirut this little lady rescued 37 children trapped in a hospital by brokering a temporary cease-fire between the Israeli army and the Palestinian guerilla.
Mother Teresa received a record number of awards in her lifetime; the Padma Shri, the Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding, the Bharat Ratna-India’s highest civilian award among others. On Dec 11th, 1979, Mother Teresa, “Saint of the Gutters,” went to Oslo, dressed in her signature blue-bordered sari, shod in sandals despite below zero temperatures, to receive the ultimate worldly accolade, the Nobel Peace Prize. She refused the conventional ceremonial banquet given to laureates, and asked that the $192,000 funds be given to the poor of India instead. When Pope Paul VI gave her a white Lincoln Continental, she auctioned the car, using the money to establish a leper colony in West Bengal.
However, as is always the case, along with the accolades came the brickbats. She was condemned with having limited herself to keeping alive, rather than, tackling poverty itself. She was also criticized for having accepted funds from questionable sources like gamblers and dictators. However despite the allegations this Mother continued to let her work speak for itself. She was granted a state funeral by the Indian Government in gratitude for her services to the poor of all religions in India. Perhaps, French President Jacques Chirac summed up Mother Teresa’s legacy best when he said after her death: “This evening, there is less love, less compassion, less light in the world.”
Essay No. 02
Mother Teresa was born on 26th August, 1910 in Yugoslavia. Her real name was Anges Bojaxhiu. She became a nun at the age of 18. She came to India as a teacher to teach in convent schools.
But later, she decided to serve the poor, the needy, the dying and the helpless. She became Indian citizen in 1948. In 1950, she established the famous Missionaries of Charity. Later, many homes, schools, hospitals for the poor and homeless were opened in India and foreign countries. Now the Missionaries of Charity has 160 centres in India alone. It has its branches in over 105 countries.
For her service, dedication and love for mankind, she was given many awards, prizes, honours and titles, including Nobel Prize and Bharat Ratna. She was far above these, but accepted them in politeness. By rewarding her, actually we were rewarding ourselves. She reminded us of the Buddha because of her limitless compassion, service and faith in humanity.
It is a matter of great honour and pride that she chose Kolkata and India as the place of her work and activities. She passed away on 5th Sep, 1997 in Kolkata.
In the death of this angle, of mercy and compassion, mankind has become poorer. It was a black Friday for millions of Indians and people of the world. The poor, the weak, the unwanted became orphans with her death. We shall love her always.