The Story Of Incredible Grit And Determination – Sindhutai Sapkal Begged On The Streets To Feed Orphans.
5 June 2017
Our country India is the second most populated country in the world and amongst the population, a significant part are children. But, it is true that a chunk of these children is usually orphaned or abandoned and live in poverty and face continuous criticism from the society.
Our today’s story is about a woman who is an evidence of kindness in a world that’s often harsh. Sindhutai Sapkal is a gem lady who has adopted over 1200 orphaned and abandoned children over the last 42 years.
Being born on 14th November 1948, Sindhutai belonged to a cattle grazing family in the Wardha district of Maharashtra. As a child, she wanted to learn more and even her father was keen to educate her, but her mother strongly opposed her education. As a result, she could only study up to 4th grade and at the nascent age of 10 years, she was married off to a man of 30 years.
Even after suffering such hardships of child marriage, young Sindhutai never lost hope. Instead her passion to help the helpless aggravated. After her marriage, she started opposing the exploitation of village women, who collected cow dung by the Forest Department and the Landlords in 1972.
Unaware of the consequences of her fight, she was hooked within the shackles of a community. During her pregnancy, a nasty rumour of infidelity was circulated by an angry landlord. After this incident, she had to face rejection from the community and also her husband abandoned her.
Away from everyone, she gave birth to her daughter Mamta on 14th October 1973 in a cowshed. Annoyed from her life, she moved to her maternal home. But sadly, there too she faced rejection.
She started feeling lost and betrayed and therefore started singing and begging in trains and on the streets and shared the food she received with those who had nothing to eat. She strived hard and continued to fight for herself and her daughter’s existence. She made train stations, cowshed and cemeteries her home.
“I used to be scared of men when I would alight from the trains late at night. I often contemplated committing suicide,” she says. But one night, extremely tired, I got down from the train and sat in a corner, a very big roti in my hand. I heard a beggar cry and say that he was sick, dying and had no one. He wanted someone to put two drops of water in his mouth. I walked up to him and said, ’Baba, why die with just water? I have a roti; you eat it, drink water and then die’.” The beggar accepted the food she offered drank water and survived. “He did not die! And that set me thinking: ‘If a little help from me could save his life, why do I want to die? I can help people survive’. That day changed my life”.
Helping the beggar gave her a sense of satisfaction and purpose that wiped off all thoughts of suicide from her mind. It was then that she decided to help the orphan and abandoned children that she’d seen begging at stations.
Soon, Sindhutai had become the mother of 16 adopted children. To avoid partiality towards her biological daughter, she sent Mamta to Shrimant Dagaduseth Halwai Trust of Pune. After years of hard work, she built her Ashram at Chikaldara.
Till date, she has adopted and nurtured over 1200 orphaned children. She is fondly known as ‘Maai’. Many of her adopted children are now lawyers and doctors. Now Mamta and the adopted children are running orphanages of their own.
She has received over 750 awards including one from the President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee. She has also recently been conferred a PhD by a college in Pune. She continues to travel from village to village to give lectures and earn money. She will continue to inspire others to reach out to those in need. And she will stay courageous even when the days are long or life is hard.
Filmmaker Ananth Mahadevan released her biopic in 2010 “Mee Sindhutai Sapkal.” She founded numerous organisations across Maharashtra which provides education and shelter to thousands of orphans.
Sindhutai is a Woman of Courage because her story is one of incredible grit and determination to fight adversity. Even at such an elderly age, she works relentlessly to shape the future of these orphans because she believes that a deprived child means a deprived nation.
Image Source-The Freepress Journal
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