Charity, like the notions of volunteerism and philanthropy, provides real social bonding and contributes to the creation of inclusive and more resilient societies. Charity can alleviate the worst effects of humanitarian crises, supplement public services in healthcare, education, housing, and child protection. It assists the advancement of culture, science, sports, and the protection of cultural and natural heritage. It also promotes the rights of the marginalized and the underprivileged and spreads the message humanity in conflict situations.
The International Day of Charity was established with the objective of sensitizing and mobilizing people, NGOs, and stakeholders all around the world to help others through volunteer and philanthropic services.
The date of September 5 was chosen in order to commemorate the anniversary of the passing away of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 “for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitute a threat to peace.”
Mother Teresa, the renowned nun and missionary, was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in 1910. In 1928, she went to India where she devoted herself to helping the destitute. In 1948, she became an Indian citizen and founded the order of Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta in 1950, which became noted for its work among the poor and the dying in that city.
For over 45 years, Mother Teresa ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying while guiding the Missionaries of Charity’s expansion, first in India and then in other countries. Mother Teresa’s work has been recognized and acclaimed throughout the world and she has received a number of awards and distinctions, including the Nobel Peace Prize. Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997.
In recognition of the role of charity in alleviating humanitarian crises and human suffering within and among nations as well as the efforts of charitable organizations and individuals, the General Assembly of the United Nations designated September 5 as the International Day of Charity.
Adapted by Sister Regina Hlavac, D.C., from a statement by the United Nations.