Helping the Sick the Dying the Orphaned and the Lepers
There were literally millions of people in need in India. Droughts, the caste system, India's independence, and partition all contributed to the masses of people that lived on the streets. India's government was trying, but they could not handle the overwhelming multitudes that needed help. While the hospitals were overflowing with patients that had a chance to survive, Mother Teresa opened a home for the dying, called Nirmal Hriday (Place of the Immaculate Heart), on August 22, 1952. Each day, nuns would walk through the streets and bring people who were dying to Nirmal Hriday, located in a building donated by the city of Kolkata. The nuns would bathe and feed these people and then place them in a cot. These people were given the opportunity to die with dignity, with the rituals of their faith. In 1955, the Missionaries of Charity opened their first children's home (Shishu Bhavan), which cared for orphans. These children were housed and fed and given medical aid. When possible, the children were adopted out. Those not adopted were given an education, learned a trade skill, and found marriages.
In India's slums, huge numbers of people were infected with leprosy, a disease that can lead to major disfiguration. At the time, lepers (people infected with leprosy) were ostracized, often abandoned by their families. Because of the widespread fear of lepers, Mother Teresa struggled to find a way to help these neglected people. Mother Teresa eventually created a Leprosy Fund and a Leprosy Day to help educate the public about the disease and established a number of mobile leper clinics (the first opened in September 1957) to provide lepers with medicine and bandages near their homes. By the mid-1960s, Mother Teresa had established a leper colony called Shanti Nagar (The Place of Peace) where lepers could live and work.