There is no doubt that Mother Teresa is the most famous Christian missionary to have worked in India. The sainthood conferred on her by the Catholic Church attests her status as a social worker and a beacon of hope for the underprivileged in India, particularly Kolkata. However, controversies have mired Mother Teresa’s work since her death in 1997. Although the global community acknowledged her work by awarding her the Nobel Peace Prize, there are many critics who object her work as a missionary.
Born in the Republic of Macedonia, she came to India during the British Raj and she settled down in Kolkata. The Nobel laureate nun affentinaltely known as the ‘Saint of the Gutters’, founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950, a sisterhood which now has more than 3,000 nuns worldwide. She set up orphanages, old age homes, alcoholic centres, disabled people, AIDS hospices, charity kitchens, schools, leper colonies and homes for abandoned children. These organizations get grants and funds in the form of donations from all over the world.
Volunteering is a tough job and many people all over the world come to Kolkata in search of a service-oriented life. At the Missionaries of Charity, anybody can volunteer for an experience to lead the daily life of a nun, but if you are serious about becoming a nun, the complete process is long and cumbersome and takes about nine years to complete. A novice must wear a white saree without the three blue stripes and must continue her life with the sole aim of understanding God and how to get close to him.
Situated in Kalighat in Kolkata, Nirmal Hriday is the home of the people who are terminally ill and have only a few days left. Mother Teresa established Nirmal Hriday way back in 1952 in a building that was an abandoned Kali temple. The sisters working there shower kindness and help the members who desperately need them. Ailing patients receive the much required medical attention and aid.
The mother house is a peaceful place replete with statues of the Mother and flowers. There is a small museum housing some of Mother Teresa’s possessions and her journey throughout life helping others. You can also see the room where she lived for more than 50 years. The room is pretty plain and has a single bed, bench and desk. Along with that, there are some religious items such as a wreath of thorns and a cross, which only authenticates her simplistic and minimalistic lifestyle. Her tomb is enshrined there without any decorations and intricacies. The environment is peaceful and there is an air of calmness that you cannot find anywhere else.
Any sceptic who looks down upon the work done by the mother and her faithful followers needs to see the transformation in Kolkata over the years. Thousands of followers truly believe the miracle done by the Saint of the Gutters and feel the church should acknowledge it by attesting with a Saint Mother Teresa title. Who are the rational critics who just talk about the misery of poor people but do nothing to alleviate their conditions…