Six missionaries work at the Tejgaon house, which is open to sick slum dwellers. In all eight sisters serve in Dhaka, 99 across Bangladesh. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Christians are welcomed. "We are not interested in converting them; we just want to serve them." From our correspondent
Dhaka (AsiaNews) – The Missionaries of Charity, better known as the Sisters of Mother Teresa, bring God’s love and compassion to children, the disabled and the poor at their Home of Compassion in Tejgaon, Dhaka.
Here everything is done for "the poor, for those who need help,” said Sr M Avila Therese, the superior of the house, which is home to eight sisters of Mother Teresa. Across Bangladesh there are 99 sisters and one male missionary of Charity.
In all, the congregation runs 12 centres for the sick, the poor, the disabled and marginalised women, plus one managed by its male branch.
The Tejgaon facility accommodates 12 poor and disabled street children, who were "orphaned or abandoned by families that no longer wanted to take care of them".
The sisters take care of all their needs, from daily personal hygiene to meals and fun moments. Their room is full of toys, rocking horses, markers: all that is needed for a quiet childhood, away from the dangers of the street.
Other children also come to the facility "every day to study with a teacher. Or those who come every Saturday for a free meal. In all, 200-300".
The nuns also take in men and women who live in the streets, mostly poor and ill. Here they receive medical treatment and loving care.
"Once they are healed, they leave and others take their place,” Sr Avila explained. “We do not have a lot of room. For this reason, they have to leave.” So far, 28 men and 49 women have spent time at the facility.
Service for the needy is independent of religious affiliation. "There are guests of every religion. Most are Muslims, but there are also Buddhists, Hindus and Christians.”
“We accept every poor person. We are not interested in converting them; we just want to serve them. We respect every religion and believe that everyone should have the freedom to profess their own."
The work of the missionaries is done for free, "we do not accept money and we do not receive a salary for what we do".
The sisters' contribution "is recognised by everyone,” Sr Avila noted. What is more, “we have never received threats (from Islamic fundamentalists) or feared for our lives. People respect us, and consider us one of them."
Despite all the daily work, "there are always moments for prayers: four in the morning before lunch, and three more in the afternoon and the evening".
The visit of Pope Francis, who made a private visit to facility and gathered in prayer at the nearby Holy Rosary Church was "a blessing. He blessed our children".