Mon, Sep 03, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Mother Teresa's legacy lives on 10 years after her death


Blind and elderly, Sibani Kar, who was found unconscious last month in the streets of India's Kolkata where she had been begging, is hoping for peace before she dies.

Kar wants to spend her final days in tranquility at a home, established by Mother Teresa, where she was brought after being discovered abandoned on the street.

"I need care and love. I need peace before I die," said Kar, forced to beg after her children ejected her from their home.

"I love you Mother, I love the sisters and brothers of the home," the painfully thin Kar said as a Spanish volunteer dabbed medicine in her eyes.

Kar, who does not remember her age but looks in her 80s, is one of hundreds of sick, dying and homeless helped by the Missionaries of Charity order set up by Mother Teresa who died 10 years ago on Wednesday.

The Roman Catholic nun, whose selfless life will be remembered by the order this week with prayers and hymns, founded the home, the first of a dozen.

"It's a home for dying peacefully. Every resident of the home is waiting for death," said Sister M. Glenda, who heads Nirmal Hriday (Pure Heart) home.

"Most of the residents, even if cured of their diseases, refuse to go back to their places and want to die here," the nun said.

Mother Teresa, dedicated to working among the sick and destitute of Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta), died days after celebrating her 87th birthday in 1997.

Since then her order, which also runs homes for abandoned children and those suffering leprosy and AIDS, has opened branches in 14 new countries.

From 733 in 130 countries in 1997, it now has 757 in 145 nations while the number of nuns has also risen and now stands at 4,800.

Nirmal Hriday -- set up in 1952 -- was special to the Nobel Peace laureate.

"Mother Teresa saw hundreds of people dying uncared and unattended on the streets," Glenda said.

"She felt very unhappy and planned to set up a home for these people so they could get care before their death," Glenda said.

Finally, the Calcutta Municipal Corp handed over the one-story building to her where she established the home.

"When she was alive, she used to come to this home at least three days a week," said Ruby Gomes who has worked at the residence for 17 years.

At the Mother House, headquarters of the order, and the place where Mother Teresa is buried, nuns have been holding a daily mass in the leadup to the anniversary of her death.

"This work Mother did is the work of God. And the work of God is continuing today through us with the prayer and blessing from Mother from heaven," said Sister Nirmala, Mother Teresa's successor.

"She's more powerful today than before," Nirmala said.

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