The name that comes in our mind at the very utterance of the word ‘service’ is that of Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa is another dedicated soul like Sister Nivedita in India. Both of them were originally foreigners but made this country their home.
Mother Teresa was born in 1910 at Skopje, a small village in Yugoslavia. Her earlier name was Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhin. When she was only 18 years old, she was attracted by the spiritual life of the missionaries. As a nun, she came to India in 1928 and thereby she became an Indian citizen. Thus though she was an Albanian by chance, she became an Indian by choice. She started her life in Calcutta as a teacher in Loreto Convent school, but soon the mother in her cried for the sufferings of the poor and the down-trodden. On the 10th of September 1916, while she was going to Darjeeling by train, she decided to leave the convent in order to serve the poor.
Accordingly, she resigned from the service of a teacher in the convent with the permission of the church and stood by the half-fed and half-clothed people. She established a school for the poor children of the slum-dwellers. Afterwards, this school was named Missionaries of Charity. Then she founded a Nirmal Hriday at Kalighat and it became the shelter for the dying and the sufferers. She also set up the Home (Nirmala Sishubhavan) for the children who have none to look after them and a hospital (Nirmala Kennedy Centre) for the treatment of lepers. ‘Nirmal’ or pure is her watch-word. Her charity was not confined to India only. There are centres of her charitable organisation (i.e. Missionaries of Charity) in many corners of the world such as in Colombo, Venezuela, Tanzania, Rome, Australia and Jordon and her activities have now been spread all over the world. Though an uncommon lady, she lived the life of a common woman. She wore the coarse white blue-bordered sari of a female sweeper which indicated that no one was untouchable to her and she had introduced the same as the dress for the sisters of she her Mission.
Mother Teresa is the mother of the world. In 1979 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. She was awarded Bharat Ratna for the year 1980. On her visit to African countries, she was welcomed as ‘Angel of Peace’. Her selfless service of mankind, irrespective of caste or creed, is unforgettable. She breathed her last on the 5th September in 1997 and the whole world paid their tribute to this noble lady of the 20th century. We mourn her death as a loss of humanity.