I had read about Sindhutai Sapkal and her work many years back. However, recently I stumbled upon a YouTube video of one of her interviews which blew me away. “Experiences make you who you are.” This quote perfectly describes Sindhutai’s journey. Hunger made her sing and beg, unjustness made her fearless, her troubles made her stronger and helping others became her purpose in life. From being abandoned by her husband and delivering a child in a cowshed to fighting for Adivasis and becoming a mother to thousands of destitute children, Sindhutai’s journey has been thought-provoking for millions.
No, I will not die
With her newborn daughter in her arms and nowhere to go, Sindhutai was walking along the railway lines contemplating suicide. The sight of her helpless baby girl made her give up the thought and she started begging on the railway stations and temples. She saw the plight of the orphaned children there and decided to feed them and started begging with a new found purpose.
Begging took her to Chikkhaldara where she found out that 84 nearby villages were being evacuated for a tiger project. Seeing the helplessness of the Adivasis, Sindhutai decided to take up their cause. Her appeal to the then PM Indira Gandhi and the Minister of Forests – Mr. Chhedilal Gupta, went a long way in improving the lives of the Adivasi community. She then made nurturing Adivasi children her life’s mission.
Saving the girl child
Sindhutai in her speeches has regularly raised the issue of female foeticide. She strongly propagates her motto – “Today’s mother has to take a stand to save tomorrow’s mother or else the world could come to an end.” Through her campaigns, she tries to generate awareness amongst to-be-mothers to recognize what actions or medical procedures might lead to miscarriages or abortions.
A proud mother to a huge family
Sindhutai Sapkal has nurtured more 1,500 orphaned children. She has 207 sons-in-laws, 36 daughters-in-laws, and over a thousand grandchildren. At 69, her family continues to grow and she continues to work tirelessly in order to make her ashrams self-sustained. She still travels from town to town, campaigning to gather any kind of support for her beloved children.
Sindhutai has won over 700 awards and runs six ashrams for orphans and women. One of her quotes that will remain with me forever is “Ek raat ka andhera, bus woh paar karna hai.” It means “You just have to make it through one dark night at a time.” What an attitude to have! This Children’s day, help Mai (as she is fondly called) help children. To learn how to contribute, visit http://sindhutai.apneareamein.com/