Sindhutai Sapkal’s life started as being an unwanted child, followed by an abusive husband who abandoned her when she was nine months pregnant. The circumstances she has faced could force anyone to lose courage and succumb to the adverse situations. But Sindhutai emerged stronger with every difficulty she faced and became a ‘mother’ to over 1400 homeless children when she herself was in a hand-to-mouth situation!
The 68-year-old lady hides many stories behind her strong personality. Full of energy and passion, Sindhutai is commonly referred to as “Mother of Orphans” and as she talks about her life and her children you can see the pain, the troubles and the miseries she has faced and overcome with her hard work during her life time. But, from all the emotions you see on her face, an unusual sense of confidence, which she has derived over the years through her experience, is something you get inspired from.
Being an unwanted child, she was nicknamed “Chindhi” which means a torn piece of cloth. Though her father supported her and was keen on educating her, she could not continue her studies after fourth grade due to family responsibilities and early marriage.
Born on born on 14 November, 1948 at Pimpri Meghe village in Wardha district of Maharashtra, she was keen on completing her education and used Bharadi tree leaves to write as the family could not afford a slate. Her early marriage put an end to her desire to study. She got married at a tender age of 10 to a 30-year old man. Her abusive husband beat her up and threw her out of the house when she was 20 and nine-months pregnant. She gave birth to a baby girl in a cow shelter outside their house the same day and walked a few kilometres in that condition to her mother’s place, who refused to give shelter to her.
“I cut the umbilical cord with a sharp-edged stone lying nearby,” she recalls. The incident deeply affected her and she thought of committing suicide, but gave up that thought and started begging at railway platforms for food to look after her daughter.
As she spent more time begging, she realized that there are many orphans and children abandoned by their parents. Having faced the difficulties herself, she could feel their pain and she decided to adopt them. She started begging more earnestly in order to feed the many children that she had adopted. Gradually she decided to adopt every child who came across as an orphan and, over a period of time, she emerged as the “mother of orphans”.
She has adopted and nurtured over 1,400 orphans, helped them get an education, got them married and supported them to settle down in life. She is fondly referred to as “mai” (mother). The children are not given up for adoption. She treats them as her own and some of them are now lawyers, doctors and engineers.
To eliminate the feeling of partiality among children she gave away her biological daughter to Shrimant Dagdu Sheth Halwai, Pune. Her daughter herself runs an orphanage today. Sindhutai has received over 500 awards for her extra ordinary support to orphans.
Sindhutai with her love and compassion has gathered a huge family of 207 sons-in-law, 36 daughters-in-law and over 1000 grandchildren. Till date she continues to fight for the next meal. She does not take support from anyone but still gives speeches to earn her daily bread and butter.
For her immense courage and compassion she has received over 500 awards. Whatever amount she received as awards, she used it to construct homes for her children. The construction is still going on and she is constantly looking for more help across the globe to give shape to her dreams.
She has six organizations operating under her name which work for various needs of orphans. “I had no one with me, everyone abandoned me. I knew the pain of being alone and unwanted. I didn’t want anyone to go through the same. And I feel immense pride and pleasure to see some of my children doing so well in their lives. One of my children made a documentary on my life,” she says.
The unusual life of Sindhutai is an inspiration for all of us. Even after facing so many hardships, she stood tall and made her way into everyone’s heart. She proved that if you are dedicated, nothing can stop you from changing the lives of thousands of people around you.
Please view the link below to get inspiration from Sindhutai.