By: Mick Yates
Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Yugoslavia in 1910. She took the name ‘Teresa’ when she joined the Sisters of Loreto, an Irish community of nuns in 1928.
Mother Teresa was given permission to live as an independent nun and devoted her life to the poor. She founded a school for homeless children in Calcutta and set up her own order, which became the Missionaries of Charity. She expanded this order to other countries in 1965, creating a global network of over 517 missions around the world.
Mother Teresa’s projects have included hospices for those with fatal or debilitating diseases, soup kitchens, counselling programs, relief work in natural catastrophes, and orphanages. In 1982 at the height of the siege in Beirut, she persuaded the Israelis and Palestinians to cease fire long enough to allow the rescue of 37 children from a hospital.
Her work has been recognised and acclaimed throughout the world and she has been the recipient of a number of awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize, the Nehru Prize and the Pope John Paul XXIII Peace Prize.
Some have criticised aspects of Mother Teresa’s work, such as her lack of concern over the origination of donations, along with resource priorities. However these criticisms cannot overshadow her enormous achievements. There is no doubt that she proved inspirational to many, attracting followers, believers and volunteers wherever she went. Her fight for dignity for the poor, gave the world a moral paradigm, bridging cultural and religious divides. Mother Teresa, who died in 1997, is a symbol of untiring commitment and leading by example. She is probably one of the most admired women of all time.
By Melanie Smith