Mother Teresa was a simple nun. She never wanted to be famous, but everyone in the world knew who she was. She received many important awards. She travelled around the world to accept them. She asked people for help. Then she gave everything to the poor.
Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in 1910 in what is now Macedonia. She was the youngest of three children. Agnes's father died when she was a child. Her mother made dresses to support the family. Agnes's mother also liked to do charity work, such as visiting the sick. Agnes often went with her, and she enjoyed helping these people. She was a good and religious girl.
Even as a child, Agnes wanted to be a nun. When she was 18 years old, she joined a group of nuns in Darjeeling, India. There, she chose the name Teresa. Then she went to Calcutta to work at St. Mary's School. The school was in a convent. Sister Teresa lived in the convent and worked at the school for 20 years. She eventually became the principal. During all those years, Sister Teresa was always concerned about how other people lived. The convent had clean buildings and beautiful lawns. But outside the convent, the streets were dirty and crowded and full of very poor people.
One day in 1946, Sister Teresa was riding on a train to Darjeeling. She looked out of the window and saw dirty children. They were wearing rags and sleeping in doorways. Sick and dying people were lying on filthy streets. She loved her work at the school, but she realized that other people needed her help more. At that moment, she believed God sent her a message. She decided to go to work with the poor.
Two years later, Sister Teresa left the convent. First, she went to a hospital to learn to take care of sick people. After three months, she was ready to live with the poor and the sick. One day, she saw a group of poor children and called them to her. She told them she was going to open a school. The school had no roof, no walls, and no chairs. On the first day, only five students came. She used a stick to write lessons in the dirt.
Several months later, Sister Teresa had many students. Everyone in Calcutta knew about her. A friend let her use part of his house for the school. She taught the children language and math. She also taught them how to keep clean and stay healthy. Soon, other nuns came to help her. Sister Teresa was happy that they wanted to join her. But she told them that life with her was not easy. She said that everyone had to wear the same clothes — white cotton saris. She wanted all the nuns to look like the poor people in India.
In 1948, Sister Teresa started her own group of nuns. They were called the Missionaries of Charity. She was their leader, so they called her "Mother" Teresa. The nuns lived in the slums with people who were poor, dirty, and sick. It was hard work and the days were long. But many young nuns came from around the world to join Mother Teresa.
One day, Mother Teresa saw an old woman in the street. She took her to a hospital. They refused to help the woman because she was poor. Mother Teresa decided to open a place for the sick and the dying. Later, she started homes for children without families. She also started clinics. Over the years, news of her work spread around the world. Many people sent her donations of money. Others came to work with her in India or other places. By 1990, the Missionaries of Charity were working in 400 centres around the world.
Over the years, Mother Teresa received many great awards, such as the Nobel Peace Prize. But she always said her greatest reward was helping people. Her message to the world was, "We can do no great things — only small things with great love". She died in 1997 at the age of 87. The whole world mourned her death.