A great message from Saint Mother Teresa
Saint Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation which consisted of over 4000 sisters.
The Missionaries are active in over 100 countries around the world.
Saint Mother Teresa opened hospices where the poor received medical attention. The opportunity to die with dignity and in accordance with their faith is the right of everyone- Muslims read the Holy Quran, Hindus received the Holy waters of the Ganges, and Catholics receive a ceremonial anointment.
The Saint’s Teachings
Saint Mother Teresa and her sisters reached out to anyone and to everyone, offering practical help, no matter their race, no matter their faith or religion, no matter their social status.
I would like to say a couple of quotes and then to bring the life and work of Mother Teresa to Aotearoa New Zealand.
The first quote, “Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need our hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.”
The second quote, “If you cannot feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”
Many of you would probably know, that in Aotearoa New Zealand, we have now the highest rate of homelessness in the OECD.
I see this every day in my office in Otara, Auckland. So many families come in asking for assistance since I became a member of Parliament.
These families worked full time, and yet could not cannot make ends meet.
South Auckland example
Bringing this quote from Saint Mother Teresa, I would like to talk about an example not from my electorate but from South Auckland.
Many of you would have seen this, covered in the media quite a lot.
A young boy would walk to school every day. Every day, while walking, he would go past an elderly gentleman. This gentleman was Pakeha.
What he would notice, is that this gentleman was crying. One day, he stopped, and asked him “Why are you crying?” He found out from this gentlemen that not only had he recently lost his wife but he also lost his full-time job.
What we know from media coverage, is this young boy would share his lunch with this gentleman.
What he did not know though, was this was the one thing this gentleman looked forward to every day. Not just the sharing of the food, but the care and the love that he felt from this young child.
The lesson that I wanted us to take from this, is this is what Saint Mother Teresa did every day. One of the things that she taught us is, as I got back to the quote “if you can’t feed 100 people, then feed just one.”
Do not judge others
She was also really good at giving us quotes about not judging other people.
This is also a lesson that I take to heart from Saint Mother Teresa.
From all the families that come to see me, especially the ones who live in cars, the ones who live in garages, the ones who live in working sheds, they work full-time. They have given me an understanding that we should not judge. We should not judge people, we should not think they are choosing to live like this. Many of our families nowadays do not.
When we know the statistics from stats NZ in 2013 and it tells us we have over 41,000 that are living in these sorts of conditions, it does actually say to us that there is so much more we can do.
This is not Politics
Not just at a political level, I am not here to give a political speech.
I am here just to say that all of us, as human beings, when reflecting on the love and kindness of Saint Mother Teresa, this is something in which we could all assist.
If I can say two more quotes from Saint Mother Teresa.
First, “Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering and the lonely right there where you are.”
Here in Aotearoa New Zealand, we have thousands that we can assist.
I would like to end with these words, again from Saint Mother Theresa.
“Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”
If I could go back to that young boy from Manurewa. The elderly gentleman that he assisted, he is now working full-time. He now has a house, but he does credit some of turning his life around from just the kindness, the love and the sharing from this young boy.
Imagine, if all of us could be like him and like Saint Mother Teresa. If we can love, be kind and share with each other, how much more lives we can touch.
I can say that it is not just that I see families asking for assistance, it is also that I have lived this life, my family were once homeless.
So, I do understand, one of the things we would like to do is address homelessness in this country.
Jenny Salesa is Ethnic Communities and Building and Construction Minister of New Zealand. The above is an extract of a highly emotional and relevant speech that she delivered at the Eighth Annual Saint Mother Teresa Interfaith Meeting held on Sunday, November 26, 2017 at Christ the King Catholic Church, Mt Roskill, Auckland.
A report on this event appeared in our December 1, 2017 issue of Indian Newslink.
Jenny Salesa is known for her sincere compassion for the poor and as a Minister of the Labour Government, she now has the mandate to implement reforms to help the poor and needy, who, we fallaciously believe, do not exist in New Zealand. Ms Salesa is herself an example of an impoverished child who rose to high positions of authority with a combination of self-determination and opportunity.
Jenny Salesa speaking at the Eighth Annual Saint Mother Teresa Interfaith Meeting held on November 26, 2017 in Auckland (Picture by Sai Bedekar, Creative Eye Fotographics)