She came, she served and she conquered the heart of India and the world. Selfless is just one of the words used to describe Mother Teresa, the wonder of a woman who gave and gave to India and its less privileged.
Even while receiving the Noble Peace Prize in 1979, she said, “I am not worthy.” Many will disagree, for she was “worthy” of a lot more.
As the world celebrates Mother Teresa’s 104th birth anniversary, Darshita Babubhai Shah is among the millions who have been inspired by her life and work.
For Shah, a disabled person, Mother Teresa is a role model. Shah, who works with NGO Apang Manav Mandal in Ahmedabad, said, “There are many who take to social work because they can see what she did. It not just requires financial aid, but a lot of physical labour. But what is most required is patience.”
Patience — the virtue that many do not possess, but one which Mother Teresa had in abundance as she worked for the differently-abled, destitutes, slum dwellers and HIV patients for decades.
A Photo taken on February 3, 1986, shows Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II waving to well-wishers, at the Nirmal Hriday Home, in Kolkata. (AFP Photo)
“Social work is a long time service, and Mother Teresa exemplified this. I may not be Mother Teresa, but I have a little bit of her in me,” said Shah.
Shah was conferred the President’s award in 2013 for being a role model for the differently-abled.
Mother Teresa’s legacy is for the world at large, but Kolkata obviously has a special claim because this is where she wiped out the apathy towards the unwanted, looked at good in evil and became the person that people look up to.
Her birth anniversary is an event in Kolkata. “When Mother Teresa passed away, people took to the streets mourning her loss. This shows the love the people of Kolkata have for her,” said Kaustav Bhattacharya, 25.
This photo taken on December 12, 1979, shows Mother Teresa in Oslo with the Nobel Peace Prize she received. (AFP Photo)
Work has transported Bhattacharya from home Kolkata to a music company in Noida, but he has the privileged position of being from a generation that saw in its formative years the charitable work of the lady in white and blue sari.
In Kolkata, she began an open-air school, established a home for the destitute and founded the world-famous Order of the Missionaries of Charity. It is here where she also conferred the name, ever so fondly, the ‘Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta’.
“If we imbibe, even partly, a little of what she said, it could help us become a better person,” said Bhattacharya.
Mother Teresa passed away in 1997, but left behind a lot of hope and a rich yet humble legacy.
As she once said in Kolkata in 1989 after announcing her intention to retire, “God will find another person, more humble, more devoted, more obedient to him, and the society will go on.”