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Childhood is a happy phase of life. Parents love and pamper their children and make them the centre of their world. However, the same childhood can be shocking when a child does not have parents. There is no greater tragedy than being an orphan or living a homeless life.
Having said that, the Divine sends people to Mother Earth to make a difference. Sindhutai Sapkal is one such person! For being an orphan mother Sindhutai Sapkal became a gift from God to thousands of orphaned children.
Sindhutai Sapkal (MAAI) also known as the Mother of Orphans is an Indian social worker and a social activist best known for her work of raising orphaned children. She has worked for the past 45 years in improving orphans.
About Sindhutai Sapkal-
The story of the lady is evidence of similar depression. Born on November 14, 1948, the mother of orphans saw the world through the eyes of a cattle herd in the Wadiha district of Maharashtra. Always considered unnecessary, she was nicknamed ‘Chindi’, which means torn cloth, by the community. But the hunger for young Sindhutai to learn more was everywhere.
Her father was determined to teach her, but her mother objected. So she was able to complete her education only until Class 4 and when she was 10 years old, she was married to a man of 30 years.
Even after being crushed, squashed, and chained in child marriage, young Sindhutai did not give up. Instead, her love for helping the helpless and the unrighteous grew. Settling in the Navargaon forest in Wardha after marriage, she strongly opposed the exploitation of rural women, who collected cattle manure, by the Department of Forestry and Employers in 1972.
Little did she know that her war would change her life. During her pregnancy, an angry householder was spread by rumours of infidelity. This raised her rejection in the community. Even her husband abandoned her. Beaten, gave birth to her daughter Mamta on October 14, 1973, in a cattle shed.
Sindhutai returned to her mother’s home, but even there she faced rejection without arguing with her mother. Feeling lost and betrayed, Sindhutai Sapkal began singing and dressing on trains and the streets just to survive. She continued to fight for herself and her daughter and made railway stations, cattle ranches, and cemeteries her home.
Mother of Orphans- Why Inspiring?
It was during this experience of poverty, embarrassment, and homelessness that Sindhutai met so many orphans and helpless women who were ignored by the public. She founded and registered her first NGO, Savitribai Phule Girls ’Hostel under the Foundation, Vanvasi Gopalkrushna Shikshan Evam Kreeda Prasarak Mandal at Chikaldhara in Amravati. She began to accept the orphans and worked and sometimes begged them to provide for them.
She travelled from village to town collecting money for her Ashram. Most of the time she had to fight for the next meal due to lack of funds. But the mother of orphans did not give up. To date, she has adopted and cared for more than 1,200 orphaned children. They affectionately call him ‘Maai’. Most of her adopted children are now lawyers and doctors. Now her daughter and adopted children have their orphanages.
Sindhutai Sapkal: A symbol of Warmth & Humanity
The story of the mother is one of amazing grit and power. She has shown how adversity brings out the good in us and has given his life to finding and raising orphans. Also, she built more than six orphanages in Maharashtra where orphaned children were provided with food, shelter, and education. Her organization also provided shelter to many, destitute and abandoned women.
Her greatest social work has been recognized with more than 750 awards. She received the prestigious National Iconic Mother and Mother Teresa Awards for Social Justice in 2013. Sapkal was awarded a Doctorate in Literature by the DY Patil Institute of Technology and Research, Pune in 2016.
She also received an award known as ‘The Mind of Steel’ in 2010. In line with the name of the award, the iconic mother has a sense of pure metal. In recognition of her outstanding contribution to society, she was awarded the prestigious Ahilyabai Holkar Award by the Maharashtra government in 2002. The lady also received the Ahmadiyya Peace Prize at the 2014 National Peace Symposium in London.
Recently, on World Women’s Day 2018, President Ram Nath Kovind honoured women winners with Nari Shakti Puraskar. Sindhutai was one of 30 successful women to receive the prestigious award.
The Marathi movie Mee Sindhutai Sapkal was based on her life. The film has been nominated for the 54th London Film Festival.
In her 42 years, she has raised about 1,200 children. Her inspiring journey shows that for a committed person nothing is impossible. The mother is a role model. From being a poor wife to begging on the streets, she has now become a ‘Mother of Orphans and Helpless Children’. Even in the ’70s, you have the same desire to do something good in society.
Also Read, Women who inspire,who believed to: “Never give up”