When it comes to an inspiring story, there are many in this world but there are only few that touches our heart. Commonly known as “Mother of Orphans”, the story of Sindhutai Sapkal will touch your heart and will fill your eyes with tears. Sindhutai Sapkal is a social worker and social activist who is responsible for giving homes to more than 1400 orphans. She has won more than 500 awards for giving new homes to the orphans. What she is doing is not a piece of cake. It needs a lot of guts to look after small childrens when you don’t have enough money to feed even yourself and this was what she did.
She was born on 14 November 1948 at Pimpri Meghe village in Wardha district of Maharashtra to Abhimanji Sathe, a cowherd by profession. She was tagged as the unwanted child of the family and was named as Chindhi which means “torn piece of cloth”. Her mother did not wanted her to get education even though her father was willing on educating her. She studied till class 4th but after passing 4th, she was married at the age of 10 to Shrihari Sapkal (nickname Harbaji) who was 20 years older than her. Shrihari Sapkal was a cowherd from another village in Wardha district. By the age of 20, Sindhutai had three sons. In her village, there was a strongman who used to collect dried cow dung from the villagers and then sell it to Forest Department without paying the villagers. These cow dungs were used as fuel. She raised her voice against it after which the district collector passed an order which was not liked by the strongman. The angry strongman wanted a revenge on Sindhutai, so he convinced her husband to abandon her when she was beyond 9 months in her pregnancy. She gave birth to a girl all by herself in a cowshed outside their house. She said “I cut the umbilical cord with a sharp-edged stone lying nearby,”. After giving the birth, she walked few kilometers to her mother’s house but was refused the shelter.
After being abandoned by her husband and her mother, her life had become a hell. She thought of committing suicide. But she put that thought aside and in order for her and her daughter to survive, she started begging for food on railway platforms. It was then when she realized that there are many children who are abandoned by their parents. She adopted all these children and started to take care of them. She decided to become a mother to anyone and everyone who came across to her as an orphan. She stated that “When I was out myself on the streets begging for food and fighting for survival each day, I realized that there are so many orphans who have nobody to go to. I decided to take care of them and raise them as my own”. Since she had more children to feed, she started to beg more intensely. Since her communication skills were good with which she can influence people, she gave many speeches at various places and started earning money to feed her childrens. In order to avoid any partiality between her daughter and the adopted children, Sindhutai donated her biological daughter to a Sheth Halwai in Pune.
She has devoted her entire life for orphan. Her hard work has paid a huge success to her. She now has a huge family. Apart from her children, she also have 207 son-in-laws, 36 daughter-in-laws and over 1000 of grandchildren. She is fondly called as ‘Mai’, which means mother. The children she has adopted, many of them are now well educated engineers, doctors and lawyers, and some, including her biological daughter, are running their own independent orphanages. One of her children is doing a PhD on her life.
Though she done something which most of people cannot do, she intend to carry it as long as she can. Her dedication to the children has won her with many awards. In 2010, Anant Mahadevan directed a bio-pic of her life with title “Mee Sindhutai Sapkal”. The film was world premier on 54th London Film Festival and had won four National Film Awards including Special Jury Award and Best Screenplay Award.
The money she received from awards is used to make a new home for her children. Construction has started and she is still looking for more help from the world. Sanmati Bal Niketan is being built in Manjari locality at Hadapsar, Pune where over 300 children will reside. Looking after kids is not a easy job. One has to make sure that every child is getting food and no one is hungry. She gave shelter and food to these children when she was having difficulty to find for herself. She took care of them like a real mother does. Everyone can take a great lesson from her. We all should contribute something for these orphans. We cannot do what Sindhutai did but if we do even 5 percent of that, then it would be a great help for children who do not have parents. One can adopt an orphan like her, or donate some money to orphanages or take care of their studies. Sindhutai Sapkal is a real unsung hero of this country and we salute her for all the hard work she did to protect the orphans.