Sindhutai Sapkal, also known as the “mother of orphans”,is an Indian social worker and social worker who is particularly known for caring for orphans. She was awarded her Doctorate in Literature by DY Patil Institute of Technology Research and Research in 2019 and the Nari Shakti Award in 2017.
Early life and education :-
Sindhutai was born on 1 November 1948 in Wardha district of Maharashtra into a pastoral family.Since he was an unwanted child, he was called Chindi (a piece of Marathi cloth). However, her father was eager to educate Sindhutai against her mother’s wish. She used the leaves of the ‘stuffed tree’ as a slate because she could not afford real stripes. Poverty, family responsibilities and early marriage forced her to formal education after successfully passing her fourth grade.
Marriage and Early work :-
At the age of twelve, she married a twenty-year-old man from Wardha district. She faced a difficult life after marriage but did not lose hope. In his new home, he fought against the exploitation of local women by the forest department and cow dung collecting landlords. This only made things more difficult for him. By the time she was twenty, she had three sons.
At the young age of twenty, when she was nine months pregnant, she was beaten and abandoned by her new husband. In that semi-conscious state, she gave birth to Mamata and struggled to stay in a cow’s shelter outside the house on the night of 1 October. Sindhutai started begging on roads and railway platforms to survive. Because she was afraid of being picked up by men at night. His condition was such that people called him a ghost because he was seen in the cemetery at night.
“In this relentless struggle for survival, she met him at Chikaldara in Amravati district, Maharashtra. Thirty 84 tribal villages were evacuated here due to tiger conservation project. During the riots, the project officer injured 132 cows of tribal villagers and one of them was killed. Sindhutai decided to fight for the proper rehabilitation of the helpless tribal villagers. His efforts were recognized by the Forest Minister and he made suitable arrangements for alternative rehabilitation.
There was no hope left, she went to her mother several kilometers away. His mother refused to give him asylum. He set aside his suicidal thoughts and started begging on the train platform to eat. In the process, she felt that many of the children had been abandoned by her parents, and she considered them her own and began begging them more vigorously to feed them. She decided to be a mother to everyone and everyone who came to her as an orphan.
She has devoted her entire life to orphans. As a result, she is affectionately called ‘Mai’ (mother). She gave birth to more than 1,050 orphans. Till date, she has a family of 207 sons-in-law, 36 sisters and more than a thousand grandchildren. She is still struggling at the next meal. Many of the children she adopts are educated lawyers and doctors, and some run their own orphanage with their biological daughter. She has a child doing her PhD on her life. He has been awarded over 273 awards for his dedication and work. He used the prize money to buy land for the children’s home. Construction has begun and she is still seeking more help from the world. Sanmati Bal Niketan is being constructed in Manjari area of Hadapsar in Pune, which will house more than 300 children.
At the age of 80, her husband returned with an apology. He accepted her as a child because she is now just a mother! If you visit her ashram, she proudly and lovingly recognizes him as her oldest child! Individually, it comes as an infinite source of energy and a very powerful motivator, without completely negative emotions or blaming anyone.
Released in 2010, Marathi Sindhutai Sapkal is a biopic based on the true story of the Marathi language film Sindhutai Sapkal.
Sindhutai fought for the rehabilitation of eighty villages. During her agitation, she met then Forest Minister Chedi Lal Gupta. He agreed that the villagers should not be displaced before the government makes proper arrangements at alternative locations. When Prime Minister Indira Gandhi came to inaugurate the tiger project, Sindhutai showed a picture of a tribal who had lost a wild bear.
• 2017 – Sindhutai Sapkal was conferred with Nari Shakti Puraskar 2017 on 8 March 2018 by the President of India. This is the highest civilian award dedicated to women.
• 2016 – Social Worker of the Year Award from Wockhardt Foundation 2016
• 2015 – Ahmadiyya Muslim Peace Prize in 2014
• 2014 – Awarded by Basava Seva Sangh-2014, as Basava Seva Sangh Pune.
• 2013 – For Social Justice shereceived Mother Teresa Award
• 2013 – National Award for Distinguished Mother(First Recipient)
• 2012 – Real Heroes Award by CNN-IBN and Reliance Foundation.
• 2012 – Awarded COEP Pride Award by College of Engineering, Pune.
• 2010 – Government of Maharashtra presented Ahilyabai Holkar Award to social workers in the field of women and child welfare.
• 2008 – Woman of the Year given by Loksatta, a daily Marathi newspaper.
• 1996 – Adoption Mother Award given by Non-Profit Organization – by Sunita Kalaniketan Trust – (Memories of Late Sunita Trimbak Kulkarni), Tal – Shrirampur District Ahmednagar. Maharashtra Pune .
• 1992 – Leading Social Contributor Award.
Anant Mahadevan’s 2010 film Mee Sindhutai Sapkal is a biopic inspired by the true story of Sindhutai Sapkal. The film was selected for its world premiere at the The London Film Festival.
Author- Neha M. Lunkad