Mother Teresa once said, “We think sometimes poverty is only being hungry, naked, and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for is the greatest poverty.”
When I first read this quote my younger self could not relate. I was raised in an impoverished neighborhood so being hungry and homeless was the greatest poverty of too many. As I grew, so did my mom, and we moved out of the neighborhood. My mom was determined to give my sister and me a better life and she realized educating herself was key. We would ride the El train with her after school to her college. My mom went to Chicago State University. She received a bachelor’s degree in physical education. She went on to teach for a few years then received her master’s degree in educational administration and supervision. Once she completed her degree, she became an assistant principal. After that she became the principal of one of the largest elementary schools on the West Side of Chicago.
I was reading one of my old journals and came across this quote as an adult, and tears came to my eyes. Because of the love my mom had for us, she changed the trajectory of our lives. We were–and still are–wanted, loved, and cared for by our mom. She never discusses how hard it was or mentions our time in Cabrini Green Housing projects. My mom’s love elevated us from a poverty mindset. I never felt poor, less than, or inferior. Even when we lived in the projects, she never allowed poverty to get inside of us. I was aware of poverty I saw it all around me, but I was not affected by it. I have always had an affinity to help those who were in situations that limited their resources. This is what led me to be an educator (like my mom) for many years. I want to help those who are sick and feel marginalized.
As an acupuncturist I will keep this same passion. This is my why although I am no Mother Teresa her quote has been imprinted on my heart for many years. If I can have empathy toward each patient, and they feel wanted, loved, and cared for in my presence, I am eradicating the greatest poverty.
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