Married at the young age of 9 years to a 30-year-old man, Sindhutai Sapkal’s life has been anything but comfortable. A victim of domestic violence, Sindhutai had a difficult marriage and gave birth to three sons by the time she turned 20. Her husband left her when she was nine months pregnant with her fourth child. Forced to give birth in a cow shelter all alone, she went to her family for support but was refused shelter. Deterred but not defeated, she started begging on railway platforms to feed her newborn daughter. Here, she was shocked to see the numerous abandoned children struggling for survival and she resolved to take care of them as her own. And that she did, working as hard as she could and finding support wherever possible along the way. Today, she is a proud mother nurturing over a thousand destitute children providing them with food, shelter and most importantly love.
Fondly called Mai, Sindhutai’s family includes 207 son-in-laws, 36 daughter-in-laws and over 1000 grandchildren and she has nurtured over 1000 orphans. She set up her first ashram at Mamta Bal Sadan, and now has five homes across Pune and Wardha. Mai is proud that many of her children have excelled in life and even become lawyers and doctors, and some including her biological daughter, have joined her cause and are also now running shelter homes. Mai, now in her 80s, believes that her journey is far from complete as a lot of work remains to done to help these children. QUOTE: “If I wasn’t there for my baby, she would have met the same fate as rest of the abandoned children on the street. I know how it feels when you are left alone. So, when I came across children who needed help, I knew I must do something for them and I’m proud that I could be a mother to some of them.”