GONXHA AGNES BOJAXHIU, born in Yugoslavia of Albanian
parents, became SISTER TERESA when at the age of 18 she took her vows in the Institute of
the Virgin Mary in Ireland. The following year, in 1929, she was sent to the Loreto
Community in Calcutta where for 20 years she fulfilled her obligations as a teacher.
Called by the misery of bruising poverty in the surrounding slums, her petition to help in
a more direct way was granted in 1948. With the permission of Pope Pius XII, she founded a
new Indian congregation, the Missionaries of Charity, devoted entirely to the poor.
Assuming Indian citizenship, she chose for the fledgling community a habit suited to its
mission and localea simple, white cotton sari edged with blue.
MOTHER TERESA and the small group of Indian nuns she had trained started their work with
clinics and feeding centers. Soon police and others began to bring to her doorstep
children and adults left to die in the streets. Determined that these unwanted must have a
place to spend their last days in peace, she founded, in 1952, in an ancient, teeming
quarter of Calcutta, the Nirmal Hriday, or Pure Hearta unique hospital for dying
For abandoned lame, blind and tubercular children, the Missionaries of Charity run a
second home, Sishu Bhavan. Six dispensaries are now operated with the assistance of
volunteer doctors and at 52 relief centers, food, milk and clothing collected by the
Missionaries are given to the needy. In the poorest districts of the city, under trees or
a matting roof, the Missionaries conduct regular day schools, teaching children to read
and write in Hindi and do simple sums.
Leprosy being prevalent and facilities for treatment overburdened, a mobile clinic manned
by nuns trained in the Leprosy Department of the Hospital for Tropical Diseases
administers especially to lepers. On a more modest scale this work is repeated in Delhi
and six other cities. The Missionaries also maintain a home in Delhi for orphans and
MOTHER TERESA's community now numbers 169. Most are Indians, excepting 10 from Pakistan,
Nepal, Malta, Albania, Yugoslavia, Germany, England and the United States. Living as
austerely as their slum neighbors, the Missionaries of Charity depend upon donations and
on a special Flag Day the public is invited to assist the work among the lepers. Moving
chiefly among Hindus and Moslems, they make no attempts at conversion, but treat alike men
of all castes, creeds and colors, concerned solely with injecting dignity into the lives
of the unfortunate.
In electing MOTHER TERESA to receive the 1962 Ramon Magsaysay Award for International
Understanding, the Board of Trustees recognizes her merciful cognizance of the abject poor
of a foreign land, in whose service she has led a new congregation.