Written by Nathaniel Alvino Risa Prima, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia
Some might suppose that Mother Theresa was born in India, as her charities and humanitarian actions are profound to be revolved in the Asia sub-continent. While in fact, not many know that she was actually a Southeastern European, born in Skopje, Ottoman Empire (present-day North Macedonia) on August 26th, 1910. The last daughter of Nikole Bojaxhiu, an Albanian businessman, with Dranafile Bojaxhiu, was initially named as ‘Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu’ (Gonxha means “rosebud” or “little flowers” in Albanian). After her father’s death when she was eight, the little Agnes was then raised by her mother in a catholic way of living. It was also the early phase when she was introduced to the pilgrimage as well as humanitarian life. At the age of 18, Agnes decided to leave for Ireland to join the Sister of Loreto, a congregation: a place where she adopted a novel name “Teresa” (a Spanish version of St. Theresia de Lisieux). In Loreto, Teresa had the opportunity to study English as well as sharpen her knowledge in the education field, which later allowed her for a long charity journey to the Orient side of the globe, Calcutta in India.
Within the period of post-World War II, specifically in 1948, Mother Teresa started a mission with the poor; It was the culmination of her earlier spiritual calling. In India, she changed her congregation gown with the native cotton white-colored sari marked with dark blue edges, signifying a unification with the lives of Indian women. Further, she also changed her national citizenship to Indian. She went to the slum areas and helped “the poor of the poors” whose lives were very miserable as they did not have access to the proper medical, sanitation, as well as education. Not taking too long for Mother Teresa to turn her aspirations into material reality. A year after her initial action, Mother Teresa, helped by a group of youth from India, finally founded a school in Motijhil, a district in Calcutta, where she also double-function the infrastructure as an assistance facility to provide service for the poor and the hungry. Despite this success, Mother Teresa faced a lot of challenges, including the doubt and desperation as she doesn’t have enough money, food, and water to survive – which she wrote that “made her tempted to return to the convent life” instead.
By 1950, Mother Teresa was proven to be superior to her own obstacles. She received permission from the Vatican to build her own congregation, “Missionaries for Charity”. It marks her further, bigger reach to the marginalized. She built the hospice (a health-care facility focusing on the terminally-ill patients), “Kalighat Home for The Dying” where she and her team took care of those who were dying in sufferings, regardless of their religious backgrounds. “A beautiful death is (deserved) for people who lived like animals to die like angels—loved and wanted ” she once said. In the following years, Mother Teresa also expanded her humanitarian work, with the help of external fundings and massive additional personnels, to build orphanages, shelters, and healthcare facilities in other parts of India. The Missionaries for Charity also employs a more diverse focus in their providing of social infrastructure, including AIDS-centre, facilities for the disables, natural disaster victims, homeless shelter, and many more. After her death in 1997, Mother Teresa’s marks are still continuing to this day in many parts of the world, such as Venezuela, Ethiopia, and Lebanon.
From Mother Teresa alone, in accordance with the bigger picture of International Charity Day, everyone can learn that sharing is something that shall be celebrated, regardless. It is the only action of caring that could defeat the boundaries of identities, languages, religion, and cultures – the attributes that often divide the relationship between human beings, and not rarely leading to practice of ignorance, indifference, or even hatred. It is the actions of charity and caring that could speak louder than words, breaking those oxymoron human-constructed boundaries, to fill the further meaning of humanity itself, as well as to create a better world that is universal: not seeing “who” and “where” to be true. So, what have you done to fill your role in charity and humanity? Have you found a reflection of the charitable “Mother Teresa” within your daily life?
“Charity isn’t about pity, it is about love. The fruit of love is service, which is compassion in action” – Mother Teresa
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_Teresa, accessed at August 22, 2021
https://serudsindia.org/blog/mother-teresa-quotes-charity-helping/, accessed at August 22, 2021