Missionaries of Charity welcome 50 transgender people on Mother Teresa's feast day
Inspired by the saint, the Sisters went to Dhaka’s Tejgaon district to seek out the most marginalised on the day of the 25th anniversary of the death of their foundress to show Jesus’s love for those “who are neglected and unloved”. In Jakarta, a lay group present in the country marked the anniversary with Cardinal Suharyo, keeping Mother Teresa’s spirit and action alive.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) – The Missionaries of Charity welcomed 50 transgender people at their Home of Compassion in Dhaka’s Tejgaon district, to mark together the 25th anniversary of the death of Saint Mother Teresa of Kolkata. Transgender people are among the most marginalised in Bangladesh.
The Home’s superior, Sister Bondita, spoke to AsiaNews about this gesture. “We called on the Hjiras (transgender people) because they are a neglected group in society in Bangladesh. Our foundress showed her love and compassion to all those who are neglected and unloved. It is the same sign of love that we also want to show.”
In Bangladesh, LGBT people are estimated to be between 1.6 and 4.8 million out of a population of more than 160 million, and are one of the most vulnerable and marginalised groups. The Sisters opened their doors, offering them gifts: a sari, two pieces of soap, a package of biscuits, a small sum of money.
“We have been overwhelmed by the love, respect and support of the Sisters of Mother Teresa," said Hor Ram, speaking to AsiaNews on behalf of the group. “In general, our community is not well received in society, but the Sisters called on us; they were kind and showed love to us, winning our hearts.”
“I know about Saint Mother Teresa,” Hor Ram said. “If everyone was kind and altruistic like her Bangladesh and the earth would be a paradise. There would be no discrimination and violence. We would all live together and in peace.”
Yesterday, the feast day of Saint Mother Teresa, was celebrated in all of Bangladesh’s Catholic communities. The Missionaries of Charity have been present in the country since 1972 serving the needy, the vulnerable, and the neglected in all eight Catholic dioceses, as witnesses of Jesus.
The event was also celebrated in Indonesia. Linked to the spirituality and work of Mother Teresa, Kelompok Kerabat Kerja Ibu Teresa-I Thirst Movement (KKIT-ITM) held a novena and a Eucharistic celebration in Jakarta’s Catholic cathedral to mark the 25th anniversary of the saint’s death.
Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, who heads the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Indonesia, praised the movement for its charity work in the country in the spirit taught by Mother Teresa.
“My life changed completely when I met Mother Teresa,” said Sinta Ekoputri Hidayat, wife of a well-known Indonesian entrepreneur, speaking to AsiaNews.
A supporter of the Sisters, she met the saint in person, in a slum in Khaligat, Kolkata, and saw how she was close to the sick, the desperate, and the dying in the streets.”
Threes Suwadji and Widyastuti had the same experience. The two women run the Sahabat Baru (New Friends) Home for the Elderly in West Jakarta, which was set up by KKIT-ITM for older people discarded by their families.
“In 1973, we had nothing to start this charity other than goodwill and a strong desire to serve the people," Ms Suwadji explained. Today, in the same spirit, Mother Teresa's work continues in many others throughout Indonesia.
(Mathias Hariyadi contributed to this article)