Mother Teresa, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who works among the poor of Calcutta, India, announced here yesterday she will build a "rehabilitation center" in the New York City area for AIDS victims and asked President Reagan to help with the project.
"I told the president that I was very anxious to have a nice place where AIDS victims will gather," the 75-year-old Roman Catholic nun told the audience at an awards ceremony sponsored by the National Council for International Health, a nonprofit group that works to strengthen U.S. participation in health programs in developing countries.
She said that during her 10-minute meeting with Reagan in the Oval Office he promised to help her find a suitable place. "I will do the praying, and he will have to do the work," Mother Teresa added with a smile.
Mother Teresa's order, the Missionaries of Charity, operates a 14-bed shelter for victims of acquired immune deficiency syndrome in Greenwich Village called the Gift of Love. In December 1985, New York state agreed to allow dozens of inmates dying of AIDS into another program run by Mother Teresa at a Manhattan hospital unit operated by the archdiocese there.
"One of them later told me in the hospital that he was suffering from great pain but sharing it with Jesus Christ, as he felt the same pain in his head, hands and feet when he was crucified.
"These people feel unloved and rejected. The most important medicine is tender love and care," she said.
After the ceremony, the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) announced it would provide $2 million this year to help combat AIDS. The World Health Organization will establish a multidonor assistance package for educational activities in Africa, AID Administrator M. Peter McPherson said.
The council, which presented Mother Teresa with its first outstanding achievement award, also cited Turkey, Egypt and Colombia with its Child Survival Country Recognition awards yesterday for work promoting immunization and combatting dehydration.