Valley Voices

Mother Teresa honors MLK for how she helped others

By Alexandria Romans

In this Dec. 10, 1979 file photo, Mother Teresa receives the Nobel Peace Prize during a ceremony at Oslo University. At right is the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Professor John Sanness.
In this Dec. 10, 1979 file photo, Mother Teresa receives the Nobel Peace Prize during a ceremony at Oslo University. At right is the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Professor John Sanness. AP file

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”— Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa’s original name was Agnes. By age 12, she knew that God had big plans for her. Mother Teresa did everything she could to help those in need. By creating the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa is a great example of Dr. Martin Luther King’s challenge: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Background:

Agnes Gonxha (GONE-ja) Bojaxhiu (boy-a-GEE-you) was born Aug. 26, 1910 in Skopje, (SKOP-ee-eh) Macedonia into an Albanian, Roman Catholic family. Her father (Nikola) was an important man in Skopje, so Agnes and her family lived comfortably. Agnes’s mother was named Drana.

alexandria romans
Alexandria Romans of Liddell Elementary in Central Unified. Fresno County Superintendent of Schools

Agnes’s parents taught her to help and respect all people. Because her family was so well off, they would give food to less fortunate people. However, Agnes’s father died in 1919. Agnes was 8 years old. Drana got depressed and life became hard for the family without any money.

At 18 years old, Agnes applied for the Loreto Order, (a group of nuns) and was accepted! She left home on Nov. 29, 1928 to go to Ireland, where the Loreto Order was located. There, Agnes learned different languages so she could communicate with people in India. On Jan. 6, 1929, Agnes arrived in India.

On May 24, 1931 Agnes took her first vows as a nun and became Sister Teresa because another nun in the convent was already named Agnes. When the Mother Superior died, Teresa became Mother Teresa.

Her mission:

When Mother Teresa saw poor people struggling to survive, she wanted to do something about it. However, Teresa would need Pope Pius XII’s permission to go into the slums and live and help the unfortunate people. With the help of Father Celeste Van Exem, Mother Teresa convinced the pope to grant her wish. But before she went to help, Teresa donned a blue and white sari — a traditional Indian women dress — to blend in with the Indian people.

Mother Teresa first started teaching children how to read and write. She gave out bars of soap as prizes because, in the slums, it was hard to keep personal hygiene. On March 1949, a nun came to Mother Teresa, wanting to help her with her mission. After that, more nuns came.

Eventually, Mother Teresa requested to start Missionaries of Charity, an organization that manages homes for people dying, dispensaries, mobile clinics, family counseling programs, orphanages, and schools. The city officials granted her request in 1950. In 1965 Pope Paul VI gave permission to open Missionaries of Charity houses around the world.

In 1969 Malcolm Muggeridge made a film about Mother Teresa for the British Broadcasting Company. It was a big hit and donations started pouring out from all over the world for Teresa’s organization.

In 1979 Mother Teresa was awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize for all her work and dedication. On Sept. 5, 1997 Mother Teresa passed away at 87 years old.

Alexandria Romans is a sixth grader at Liddell Elementary School in the Central Unified School District. Her essay took first place in the elementary school division of the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools MLK contest.

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