A tribute to a woman of valour and humility

2017-09-07 06:01
opinionThembile Ndabeni

opinionThembile Ndabeni

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September 5 2017 marked the 20th anniversary of the passing on of Mother Theresa.

Mother Theresa spent her life helping the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, thus earning for herself the name: “Saint of the gutter”.

Mother Teresa, who was of Yugoslavian descent, was the founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity based in India, a Roman Catholic congregation of women dedicated to helping the poor.

Therefore it was surprising that she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

She had started her international journey at the age of 18 years when she joined the Sisters of Loreto, which was the genesis for her inspiration in establishing her charity organisation.

In the end, her organisation had spread to 517 missions throughout the world, South Africa included.

Mother Theresa was an extraordinary though ordinary being with a humble background.

She possessed a face and an outlook that appealed because of her humility.

This could have been the necessary attributes that appealed to the donors who made her charity work plausible, working with and for the poorest of the poor in societies around the world.

She was the epitome of empathy and sympathy. I cannot imagine any donor declined her request for assistance.

Mother Theresa went through the period of the Holocaust.

She was there when great leaders like J F Kennedy and Martin Luther King junior were killed. Many Popes came and went before her, but not a single one of them touched lives the way she did.

She had a human touch to the rich and poor, big and small, known and unknown alike.

One of the great people she had met before her demise was Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela. She lived for 87 years.

But there is another side to her that bordered on the controversial.

Apparently, a woman named Monica Besra had claimed that her cancerous tumour was healed because of the intercession of Mother Teresa.

However, her husband and physician counter-claimed by saying she was healed through medication. Science and religion was sure to clash.

To move on, Mother Theresa’s contribution to humanity was a gift to the poorest of the poor.

She lived until she was over 87, with over 69 of those years dedicated to humanity, especially to the poorest of the poor in India, the homeless, the street walkers, sleeping in sewers s and refuse dumps.

However, to some, she was a hypocrite of the worst kind; using the plight of the poor in order to generate money.

Further to this, it was also claimed to have accepted funds from ‘benevolent dictators’, as it were.

It is alleged that she spent a half century of her life grappling with whether a God really existed.

“Where is my faith. Even deep down ... there is nothing but emptiness and darkness ... If there be God—please forgive me. When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul”.

At one stage it was claimed that she had said poverty emanated from God.

It is incumbent that those of us who seek enlightenment, first query the source of our beliefs and investigate deeper the meaning of things even before we support or oppose such notions. We must not just be directed to things and then react without due diligence.

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