Mother Teresa's Most Inspiring Quotes
Mother Teresa is well-known throughout the world for her humanitarian work — she aided poor people no matter their illness, religion or culture. Born in 1910 in Yugoslavia, she lived most of her life in India, then passed on in 1997. Mother Teresa was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985, and posthumously, Pope Francis officially declared her as a saint in 2016.

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa helped people so poor and ill that most others avoided them. She created rehabilitation homes for lepers, and rescued homeless people dying in the streets and gave them hospice shelter and love during their deaths.

While Mother Teresa helped anyone in need regardless of their condition, religion or culture, and her strong devotion to Jesus Christ motivated her work. She once said, “The work is only a means to put our love for Christ into action… to work for the poorest of the poor. So, my vocation was a continuation of belonging to Christ and being only His.” The following are five of Mother Teresa’s most inspiring quotes surrounding the issue of poverty.

5 of Mother Teresa’s Most Inspiring Quotes Regarding Poverty:

  1. During her Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 1979, she said: “I never forget a little child who taught me a very beautiful lesson. They heard in Calcutta, the children, that Mother Teresa has no sugar for her children; and this little one, Hindu boy four years old, he went home and he told his parents: ‘I will not eat sugar for three days; I will give my sugar to Mother Teresa.’ How much a little child can give. After three days they brought into our house, and there was this little one who could scarcely pronounce my name. He loved with great love; he loved until it hurt. And this is what I bring before you – to love one another until it hurts. But don’t forget that there are many children, many children, many men and women who haven’t got what you have. And remember to love them until it hurts… I can enjoy this, but I give up; I could eat that sugar, but I give that sugar… you would be surprised of the beautiful things that people do to share the joy of giving.”
  2. “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”
  3. “It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.”
  4. During a speech in 1994 at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C., she said, “I can never forget the experience I had in visiting a home where they kept all these old parents of sons and daughters who had just put them into an institution and forgotten them – maybe. I saw that in that home these old people had everything – good food, comfortable place, television, everything, but everyone was looking toward the door. And I did not see a single one with a smile on the face. I turned to Sister and I asked: “Why do these people who have every comfort here, why are they all looking toward the door? Why are they not smiling?” I am so used to seeing the smiles on our people, even the dying ones’ smile. And Sister said: ‘This is the way it is nearly every day. They are expecting, they are hoping that a son or daughter will come to visit them. They are hurt because they are forgotten.’ And see, this neglect to love brings spiritual poverty… When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread. But a person who is shut out, who feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person who has been thrown out of society – that spiritual poverty is much harder to overcome.”
  5. “There’s two kinds of poverty. We have the poverty of material; for example, in some places like in India, Ethiopia and other places, where the people are hungry for a loaf of bread – real hunger. But there is a much deeper, much greater hunger; and that is the hunger for love, and that terrible loneliness and being unwanted, unloved – being abandoned by everybody.”

A Light in the Dark

From providing makeshift recovery shelters and friendly hospices for sick homeless folk, to giving food to the hungry and friendship to the lonely or shunned, Mother Teresa was a kind light and safety-zone to thousands of poor people from all walks and creeds of life. Her body may have passed from this world, but Mother Teresa’s most inspiring quotes live on, influencing others to follow her example.

– Emme Leigh

Photo: Flickr

quotes about povertyWhat is embodied in the word poverty? Based on the Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation’s definition, poverty is “about not having enough money to meet basic needs including food, clothing, and shelter.” However, the connotation of poverty carries a much heavier burden. Billions of people have experienced poverty in their lifetimes, and many don’t escape its grasp.

These 15 quotes about poverty will develop a powerful image of what poverty looks and feels like. These quotes about poverty are also designed to leave a sense of hope because the fight towards a better future is still going.

  1. “I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil.” – Robert Kennedy
  1. “As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality exist in the world, none of us can truly exist.” – Nelson Mandela
  1. “Extreme poverty anywhere is a threat to human security everywhere.” – Kofi Annan
  1. “Poverty is like punishment for a crime you didn’t commit.” – Eli Khamarov
  1. “Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.” – Aristotle
  1. “These days there is a lot of poverty in the world, and that’s a scandal when we have so many riches and resources to give to everyone. We all have to think about how we can become a little poorer.” – Pope Francis
  1. “You can’t get rid of poverty by giving people money.” – J. O’Rourke
  1. “There are many reasons why vulnerable young people join militant groups, but among them are poverty and ignorance…” – Muhammadu Buhari
  1. “Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change.” – Muhammad Ali
  1. “We cannot afford to spend millions and millions over nuclear arms when there is poverty and unemployment all around us.” – Lal Bahadur Shastri
  1. “The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of poverty, and all forms of human life.”– John F. Kennedy
  1. “A rich, robust, well-resourced public education is one of the best routes out of poverty and a pathway to prosperity.” Randi Weingarten
  1. “The belief that the world is getting worse, that we can’t solve extreme poverty and disease, isn’t just mistaken. It is harmful.” – Bill Gates
  1. “Growing economies are critical; we will never be able to end poverty unless economies are growing. We also need to find ways of growing economies so that the growth creates good jobs, especially for young people, especially for women, especially for the poorest who have been excluded from the economic system.” – Jim Yong Kim
  1. “Poverty is a very complicated issue, but feeding a child isn’t.” – Jeff Bridges

A central point of these quotes about poverty is that poverty isn’t just a financial issue. It doesn’t just affect people who have no money. Poverty is a social problem that needs a social solution to be solved.

– Caysi Simpson

Photo: Flickr


poverty quotes and sayings


“Poverty is relatively cheap to address and incredibly expensive to ignore.”

– Clint Borgen, President of The Borgen Project



In June of 1998, all heads of the U.N. agencies signed a statement defining the term “poverty.” The statement read,“Fundamentally, poverty is a denial of choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity…It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or clinic to go to…It means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities. It means susceptibility to violence, and it often implies living on marginal or fragile environments, without access to clean water or sanitation.”

After the World Summit on Social Development in Copenhagen in 1995, the U.N. recognized the need to reduce “overall” poverty, as 117 member-states adopted a declaration and program of action dedicated to this cause.

What is significant about this concept of overall poverty is the idea that the U.N. considers it present in all countries, whether it exists as “mass poverty in many developing countries,” “pockets of poverty amid wealth in developed countries” or “the utter destitution of people who fall outside of family support systems, social institutions and safety nets.

Poverty has made itself a presence in everyone’s lives, whether it is in the form of a classmate, colleague, a friend in the neighborhood or a friend in a neighboring country. Below are several quotes on poverty from past and present prominent leaders, defining what poverty looks like to them.


Best Poverty Quotes


  1. “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” — Mother Teresa, Missionary and Saint.
  2. “These days there is a lot of poverty in the world, and that’s a scandal when we have so many riches and resources to give to everyone. We all have to think about how we can become a little poorer.” — Pope Francis, current Head of the Catholic Church.
  3. “Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change.” — Muhammad Ali, Professional Boxer.
  4. “People…were poor not because they were stupid or lazy. They worked all day long, doing complex physical tasks. They were poor because the financial institution in the country did not help them widen their economic base.” — Muhammad Yunus, Author of “Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle against World Poverty.”
  5. “Where you live should not determine whether you live, or whether you die.” — Bono, Singer and Philanthropist.
  6. “If human beings are perceived as potentials rather than problems, as possessing strengths instead of weaknesses, as unlimited rather than dull and unresponsive, then they thrive and grow to their capabilities.” — Barbara Bush, former First Lady of the U.S.
  7. “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.” — Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa.
  8. “Just because a child’s parents are poor or uneducated is no reason to deprive the child of basic human rights to health care, education and proper nutrition.” — Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund.
  9. “If poverty is a disease that infects the entire community in the form of unemployment and violence, failing schools and broken homes, then we can’t just treat those symptoms in isolation. We have to heal that entire community.” — President Barack Obama, 44th and current President of the U.S.
  10. “Poverty is not only about income poverty, it is about the deprivation of economic and social rights, insecurity, discrimination, exclusion and powerlessness. That is why human rights must not be ignored but given even greater prominence in times of economic crisis.” — Irene Khan, former Secretary-General of Amnesty International, 2010.

– Blythe Riggan

Sources: BBC, Brainy Quote 1, Brainy Quote 2, Goodreads, OHCHR, Standford, The Book of the Poor
Photo: Bio

The World Bank reports that we are making significant strides towards reducing global poverty.  In 1981, approximately 50% of the developing world was living on less than $1.25 per day.  Today that number is reduced to just 21% despite rapid increases in population. To continue pushing forward on the battle against poverty, here are some quotes about poverty that will inspire while provoking honest reflection:

  • Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime. —Aristotle
  • We have grown literally afraid to be poor. We despise anyone who elects to be poor in order to simplify and save his inner life. If he does not join the general scramble and pant with the money-making street, we deem him spiritless and lacking in ambition. —William James
  • The surest way to remain poor is to be an honest man. —Napolean Bonaparte
  • I thank fate for having made me born poor. Poverty taught me the true value of the gifts useful to life. —Anatole France
  • I’d grown up thinking that a [sanitary toilet] was my right, when in fact it’s a privilege — 2.5 billion people worldwide have no adequate toilet. —Rose George
  • Child mortality [since 2000] is down by 2.65 million a year. That’s a rate of 7,256 children’s lives saved each day… It drives me nuts that most people don’t seem to know this news. —Bono
  • The opposite of poverty is not wealth. … In too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice. —Bryan Stevenson
  • We have two choices: One is to continue to see a poor, ill, crying Africa, carrying guns, that depends on other people forever, or to promote an Africa which is confident, peaceful, independent, but cognizant of its huge problems and great values at the same time. — Zeresenay Alemseged
  • When we are generous in welcoming people and sharing something with them—some food, a place in our homes, our time—not only do we no longer remain poor: we are enriched. I am well aware that when someone needing food knocks at your door, you always find a way of sharing food; as the proverb says, one can always ‘add more water to the beans’! Is it possible to add more water to the beans?…Always?…And you do so with love, demonstrating that true riches consist not in materials things, but in the heart! –Pope Francis
  • If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. –John F. Kennedy

We hope these quotes about poverty allow you to reflect and perhaps gain a new perspective.  It is never a wrong time to get involved in your local community or to help advocate for a world without poverty!

– Sunny Bhatt

Sources: World Bank, Confront Global Poverty, TED, Proverbia
Photo: Personal Excellence