LT Gen Harbaksh Singh 1913-1999
Mother Teresa has become an eternal symbol, a motif – a wizened, emaciated old lady in a white, unstarched saree with a blue border, head covered, quietly going about her mission and bringing succour to the poorest of the poor. After the highly recognizable pen stroke of Gandhi with round glasses and walking stick. Mother Teresa’s outlined visage with the saree draped over the head is the most identifiable. Of Albanian descent, Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje. Macedonia on August 27, 1910. At the age of twelve, she strongly felt the call of the God. At 18, she joined the Sisters of Loreto, an Irish community of nuns with missions in India. After a few months training in Dublin, she was sent to India where she took her initial vows as a nun on May 24, 1931. From 1931 to 1948, Mother Teresa taught at St. Mary’s High School in Kolkata. But the suffering and poverty she saw outside the convent walls made such a deep impression on her that in 1948 she got permission from her superiors to devote herself to work among the poor in the slums of Kolkata. She started a school and soon she was joined by voluntary helpers and financial support was also forthcoming. On October 7, 1950, Mother Teresa received permission from the Holy See to start her own order “The Missionaries of Charity” whose primary task was to love and care for people nobody was prepared to look after. The Society became an International Religious Family by a decree of Pope Paul VI in 1965. The Society of Missionaries had spread all over the world and by 1990s there were over one million coworkers in more than 40 countries including the former Soviet Union and East European countries. They provide help to the poor in Asia. Africa and Latin America and also undertake relief work in the wake of natural catastrophes such as floods, epidemics and famine. The order also has facilities in North America. Europe and Australia where they take care of the alcoholics, homeless and AIDS sufferers. Mother Teresa’s work has been recognized the world over and she has received a number of awards and distinctions. They include the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize (1971). Nehru Prize for her promotion of international peace and understanding (1972), the Balzan Prize (1979), the Templeton Award, the Magsaysay Award and the Nobel Peace Prize (1979).