This August on the 27th we remember the 100th birth anniversary of a remarkable human being who changed the concept of service to the poor.
Mother Teresa - the 'Saint of the Gutters' was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Macedonia in 1910. By descent she was Albanian, by faith a Roman Catholic and by citizenship an Indian.
Her service to human suffering (humanity) however, belongs to the entire world.
She received the Nobel Peace Prize on December 11, 1979 in Oslo, Norway. She had already received the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize (1971) and the Nehru Prize for her promotion of international peace and understanding (1972).
Among the other accolades she received was the Balzan Prize, and the Templeton and Magsaysay awards.
Mother Teresa died on Sept. 5, 1997.
Her credo was that love begins at home. She affirmed the value of every life - including the unborn, and was against abortion.
She left home when she was 18 to join the Sisters of Loreta, an Irish community of nuns and was sent to India to work in their homes there. She received the name, Sister Mary Teresa in Calcutta, under the guidance of the Archbishop of Calcutta in 1931.
Working in Calcutta, she saw firsthand the poverty and suffering of the people and strongly felt the need to do something for them.
The Vatican granted permission for her to leave the Sisters of Loreta and set up her own new order, The Missionaries of Charity whose aim was to look after those whom nobody else was prepared to care for – the destitute and the dying.
She opened a home for the abandoned children, even though she had no funds. Her service of loving kindness and compassion was soon recognized and spread to 22 cities in India. It gained worldwide recognition, and today there are branches in Africa and Latin America and in other continents as well.
Mother Teresa carried the gospel of peace and harmony to the entire world with her service to humanity. Peace can't be achieved with bombs and bullets but with love and understanding to overcome human problems.
While hunger rules peace cannot prevail in any nation. Mother Teresa concentrated most of her work in the Asian region (India in particular) to uplift the lives of the poorest of the poor and create an awareness among the affluent Western world to help the poverty stricken to overcome misery.
Seeing is believing, the saying goes and Calcutta in freezing cold during the time of Christmas (December) where the have-nots sleep in the open without any cover is a shocking sight. God's gift to you is life, what you do with it is your gift to God. Former Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh, was one of those who was moved to serve humanity off the field more than winning a Test match.
He became the Patron of the Girls wing of Nivedita Bhavan in 1996 and has helped build a new wing for the inmates collecting funds even from Australia. Thanks to Waugh, this home in Calcutta, gained international recognition.
A group of Professors from USA once visited Mother Teresa's home. One of them asked, "Mother please tell us something that we will remember".
She said, "Smile at each other and take time for each other in your home (family) and smile at each other. God is Love.
The Norwegian people gave me this award for my humility and service to humanity sans race and religion.
Don’t go for material gains (for some of the poorer - hungry). Adhere to human values. At the end you will leave everything behind at the boundary of the cemetery gate.”
It's never too late for us to emulate the Albanian Angel's service to humanity. Many social workers, men or women in Sri Lanka are doing humanitarian work silently helping the needy without fanfare.
On August 27, the entire democratic world will remember the 'Saint of the Gutters' for her service to humanity.