Sindhutai Sapkal, better known as ‘Anathanchi Maye’ or ‘Mother of orphans’, never had an easy life, yet she surpassed all the adversities and became mother to thousands of orphans.
Conferred with Padma Shri in 2021, her story is one of incredible grit and determination to fight adversity. Born in a poor family in Wardha, Maharashtra, she was the unwanted child in the family and probably this step child treatment at her own home made her realise that every child needs to be treated with dignity.
At the age of 12, she was married off to a man who was twenty years elder to him. At 20, when she was nine months-pregnant, she was kicked, beaten and left to die in a cowshed. Her daughter was born in that semi-conscious stage and she cut the umbilical cord herself and went away with her daughter to try and survive.
She started begging in trains and on the streets to feed her child. It was during her difficult times that she came in touch with orphan children and wanted to do something for them. It wasn’t an easy journey for her, but Sindhutai went on to build multiple orphanages, nurtured over 1,000 children and gave shelter to innumerable women who were destitute and abandoned.
She even gave her own daughter to an orphanage, so that she could remain fair to all the other orphans adopted over the years. And even forgave her husband and took care of him. The selfless spirit for her
Sindhutai won several national and international awards for her social work. In 2010, a Marathi biopic of Sapkal titled Mi Sindhutai Sapkal Boltey was released in Maharashtra.
Sindhutai Sapkal breathed her last in Pune in the year 2022, at the age of 74. The life of Sindhutai Sapkal is an inspiring saga of courage, dedication and service.
“A mother can never be defeated. A woman can never be defeated. But she needs to keep her heart strong and learn to forgive.”– Sindhutai Sapkal