Darwin woman’s Indian roots channel Mother Teresa

In the lead up to Pope Francis’ World Day of the Poor on Sunday, November 17, the Church in Australia is focusing on the many volunteers who work daily to help the poor in their communities. Read how Jean Robbins assists the poor in Darwin through her volunteer work with the Missionaries of Charity Sisters.

Darwin’s Jean Robbins has volunteered with the Missionaries of Charity Sisters to assist the poor in the Northern Territory since 2006.

“I am from Chennai, India; I migrated as an accountant. My childhood was a difficult one – we had a good mum and dad, but no resources. My desire to help is to give back to God the blessing I have received from His hands. I too suffered poverty – no food, no money, hardship,” Ms Robbins explains.“The Lord lifted me because my mum believed that this situation will not be forever, and He is capable of raising us up.”

Ms Robbins said she constantly leans on the life and inspiration of St Teresa of Calcutta.

“I have always admired Mother Teresa who served the poor, because she saw Jesus in every person she reached out to,” she said.

“I volunteer on Sunday afternoons to help in feeding the poor and I also volunteer to help during events such as St Mother Teresa’s feast day, Christmas Day and other occasions. I give the sisters a hand whenever they need help.”

That takes many forms, including preparing food, serving, cleaning and washing.

“We feed the poor and the underprivileged at Vesteys Beach. It’s a lovely place and the people sit in groups to have a meal. The people who gather know the location – it’s been a permanent place for many, many years. They know the time and they also know they can depend on the sisters,” she said.

“We mostly help Indigenous brothers, sisters and children. We also have some non-Indigenous and backpackers who come to have a meal – they are mostly regular, but at times they are new from the islands and remote.

“There are people who look sad and quiet, sometimes mothers and toddlers make the atmosphere a little lighter, some Indigenous youngsters come and it adds a positive vibe.

“We talk to the people we serve, (they) introduce us to their family members, bless us, they ask us to pray for them and they share their stories. Some regular ones are so happy to help; they come forward to give a hand to set things up.”

On Sundays, the groups helps between 50 and 90, with regular visits from people who are homeless and support also offered to people from remote islands like Bathurst, Tiwi or Groote, or from Alice Springs or Katherine, who are often visiting family in Darwin.

The Missionaries of Charity were founded in 1950 by Mother Teresa. In 2012, there were more than 4500 sisters worldwide.

To find out how to volunteer and help the poor in your community, contact your local parish office.