Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Catholic order of nuns dedicated to helping the poor. Begun in Calcutta, India, the Missionaries of Charity grew to help the poor, the dying, orphans, lepers, and AIDS sufferers in over a hundred countries. Mother Teresa's selfless effort to help those in need has caused many to regard her as a model humanitarian.Dates: August 26, 1910 -- September 5, 1997Mother Teresa Also Known As: Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (birth name), "the Saint of the Gutters"Overview of Mother Teresa:Mother Teresa's task was overwhelming. She started out as just one woman, with no money and no supplies, trying to help the millions of poor, starving, and dying that lived on the streets of India. Despite others' misgivings, Mother Teresa was confident that God would provide.Birth and ChildhoodAgnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, now known as Mother Teresa, was the third and final child born to her Albanian Catholic parents, Nikola and Dranafile Bojaxhiu, in the city of Skopje (a predominantly Muslim city in the Balkans). Nikola was a self-made, successful businessman and Dranafile stayed home to take care of the children.When Mother Teresa was about eight years old, her father died unexpectedly. The Bojaxhiu family was devastated. After a period of intense grief, Dranafile, suddenly a single mother of three children, sold textiles and hand-made embroidery to bring in some income.The CallBoth before Nikola's death and especially after it, the Bojaxhiu family held tightly to their religious beliefs. The family prayed daily and went on pilgrimages annually.When Mother Teresa was 12 years old, she began to feel called to serve God as a nun. Deciding to become a nun was a very difficult decision. Becoming a nun not only meant giving up the chance to marry and have children, it also meant giving up all her worldly possessions and her family, perhaps forever.For five years, Mother Teresa thought hard about whether or not to become a nun. During this time, she sang in the church choir, helped her mother organize church events, and went on walks with her mother to hand out food and supplies to the poor.When Mother Teresa was 17, she made the difficult decision to become a nun. Having read many articles about the work Catholic missionaries were doing in India, Mother Teresa was determined to go there. Thus, Mother Teresa applied to the Loreto order of nuns, based in Ireland but with missions in India.In September 1928, 18-year-old Mother Teresa said goodbye to her family to travel to Ireland and then on to India. She never saw her mother or sister again.