Calcutta is the Indian city where misery is the more visible, the tougher to put up with : famine, tuberculosis, leprosy, crippled members,… Nothing spares these thousands of poor who agonize or survive on the pavements. “The poorest among the poor” are rejected by a society which despise them and no hospital would accept them because of their karma. So, Mother Teresa offered them a place where they could die with dignity. Since 1952, when the hospice opened, more than 84.000 dying people have been hosted. And Mother Teresa has become an icon. In Calcutta, there are many hotels, restaurants and shops with her portrait. There are also books, statuettes, effigies,… She is still the soul of the city and any Indian, regardless of his religion, revere her as a symbol of compassion.
The hospice, which was once a dwelling for hindu pilgrims visiting the nearby temple of Kali, now shelters a hundred people. Most of them are no more conscious. Men are on one side, women on the other. They are aligned on three rows of iron bedstead, under bright green sheets. The room is flooded with dim light. The place is not gloomy. About ten nuns and tens of volunteers provide health care, prepare the meals, do the washing,… Everyday, nuns search the streets, visit the railway stations where hundreds of destitutes arrive and bring to the hospice the more pitiful ones. At least when they don’t resist because they are convinced their karma is to die in the streets. That’s where they are born, that’s where they have lived, that’s where they want to die.
Now in Calcutta, there is an hospice, two orphanages, one leper-house and a dispensary. Within an half-century, Mother Teresa action developed in the whole India and even in the world.