Sindhutai Sapkal was born in 1948 in the district of Wardha of Maharashtra to a family of a cowherd. Though her father was keen on educating her, her mother was much against it. However, with her father’s support, she underwent formal schooling until the 4th grade, before getting married at an early age of just ten years. Her life of despair and struggle started then and there.
Srihari Sapkal, then 30 years old, was a husband who used to beat her up and abandoned her when she was pregnant with his 4th child at the age of 20. Having no choice, she gave birth to a baby girl, named Mamta, in a cow-shelter that very night all by herself. As if that was not enough, when she walked several kilometres to her mother’s house for shelter, her mother abandoned her too. With a baby girl to look after, Sindhutai took to begging on the streets and that’s where she realised the purpose of her life ahead.
Seeing so many little kids abandoned by their parents and left on the streets, overwhelmed her. She decided to adopt as many abandoned children as she could and look after them.
From one to six, to sixteen, and eventually to over 1000 abandoned kids were adopted by her and looked after. Formerly Sindhutai would beg for food for all her children but soon enough, she understood the importance of receiving donations on the name of a registered NGO to take care of the other needs of the children. The struggles of being a girl child are endless. And who would know better about that than Sindhutai herself! The need for a safe shelter, proper clothing, education, could not have been more important for not just the orphaned girls but the boys as well.
And so, she formed and registered her first ever NGO named Savitribai Phule Girls’ Hostel under the foundation – Vanvasi Gopalkrushna Shikshan Evam Kreeda Prasarak Mandal in Chikaldhara, Amravati.
As of now, she has adopted 1400 orphaned children and has a grand family of 207 sons-in-law, 36 daughters-in-law and over a thousand grandchildren. Many of her adopted children have successfully become doctors and lawyers, and many others run NGOs alongside herself. Sindhutai Sapkal’s social work of a continuous 40 years has won her more than 750 awards and a Marathi biopic named “Mee Sindhutai Sapkal” by Anant Mahadevan in the year 2010. It was never fame that she craved for. But it is just that she was born with a heart of gold! And as she extended her motherhood towards the most unknown but orphaned little souls.
On her husband’s death in 2017 at the age of 92 years, she had commented, “My most dangerous child has left us.”
Almost two decades prior, Sindhutai had accepted her husband into her facility not as her husband but as an orphan since he had nobody of his own to take care of himself. Even though he had put her through much distress, she had no hatred for him. Rather, she credited his deed to be the reason for the turning point in her life. It takes a lot for a woman to be so forgiving. Not only did she forgive her husband, but showed him empathy like nobody else.
Sindhutai Sapkal is just another name for humanity, and love, and motherhood!