Mother Teresa was born in Yugoslavia of Albanian parents and lived in Skopje, Macedonia, as a child. She went to India in 1928, where she joined the Irish order of Sisters of Loretto and taught at a convent school in Calcutta, taking her final vows in 1937. She became principal of the school, but in 1948 felt called to help the poor and left the convent to work alone in the slums. She undertook a week-long course in basic nursing in Patna in the Indian state of Bihar.
She was gradually joined in the slums by other nuns, and she opened her House for the Dying in 1952. Her sisterhood, the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, was founded in 1950, and became a pontifical congregation (answering directly to the pope) in 1956. The congregation now has 2,000 sisters and 200 branch houses in several countries. In 1957 she started work with lepers and established a leper colony called Shanti Nagar ('Town of Peace') near Asansol in West Bengal.
She was awarded the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize in 1971 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.