"I am strong, because I have been weak.
I am fearless, because I have been afraid.
I am wise, because I have been foolish."
This is the motto of Sindhutai Sapkal, the mother of thousand kids. No, it is not a life on a bed of roses that made her realize this truth. It is the dark and deep hardship of life which made her shine brighter as the sun in the life of many.
Proudly calling herself a beggar, this lady started begging for food when she was just 20. First for herself then for the orphan kids she adopted.
No, this is not a story of rags to riches but a story that proves even the slightest ray of humanity can shatter the world of darkness.
Today, we present you with the inspiring life story of Sindhutai Sapkal, the mother of all. Who affectionately says, "if you do not have anyone then I am there for you."
(Some of the pictures used in the story are for depiction purpose only)
Born on 14 November 1948, she belongs from family of Abhimanji Sathe.
Sindhutai's father understood the value of education. Thus, he kept on sending her to school. Due to extreme financial restraints, she was unable to afford a slate and used 'leaf of Bharadi Tree' as a page.
When Sindhutai was pushed into the darkness of child marriage, she had to leave her education.
Just when she was in her pre-teen, she became the wife of Shrihari Sapkal alias Harbaji, a 30-year-old cowherd. She bore him three children, but he abandoned her during the 9th month of her last pregnancy when she stood up against an unjust incident in her village. She was wrongly accused of adultery.
The night she was forced out, she gave birth to a baby girl. Then with the newborn, she walked several kilometers to reach her mother's house where she faced the unimaginable; her mother refused to give her shelter.
However, she decided against that. Why? What made her change her mind?
The beggar kept on saying that he is about to die and there is no one to give him a drop of water on his deathbed. When no one came forward, she gave him water and her food. Soon the beggar gained his strength which made her realize a truth.
When she can help someone to buy some time in their life then is her life really so worthless to give away? She decided to start a new journey. She began sharing her food with the orphaned and abandoned children. However, this journey was not without its own demons.
But there was always a constant fear of being abused or raped. In her fear, Sindhutai discovered a scary way to be safe. She started spending her nights in Cemeteries or 'Samshaan', which mostly stayed abandoned during nighttime.
She adopted anyone who was left abandoned. With a new zeal, she started begging vigorously to feed each of her adopted kids. To ensure that she is true to everyone, she donated her own girl child to the trust Shreemant Dagdusheth Halwai, Pune, which eliminated all signs of partiality.
Her devotion towards the orphans gave her something that she thought she had lost – a family. Fondly known as 'Mai', she nurtured over 1,400 orphaned children. Today, she is a proud head of the family which has 207 son-in-laws, 36 daughter-in-laws, and thousands of grandkids.
This one small yet tough gesture has created a beautiful life for many. Among the children she adopted, many are well-established professionals. There are also those who are running their NGOs, including her own daughter.
Today she proudly heads an organization that takes in orphan children from all over the country and works restlessly to provide them with a better life. Started in 1994 on a barren land, today it stands as a symbol of hope. From education to the playground, these children are provided with everything that brings the promise of a better future.
She has already received over 750 awards for her social service. Also, her biopic called 'Mee Sindhutai Sapkal' is showcased in 54th London Film Festival. Still, the best reward according to her is the smile of her adopted children.
She gladly forgave him and took him in, but as her kid. Unfortunately, he passed away on July 2017.
Sindhutai never takes credit for transforming thousands of lives. With a smile on her face, the only thing she claims that hunger taught her the way of life. From the moment she shared food with someone, her life changed for better.
She is confident that even if she passes away, her children will continue the work of giving a proper life to each kid. All she wants in her life is being a mother to those who don't have anyone to love them.
Being the fortunate ones, we stand in the position where we can try and provide food for others. Isn't it time to do our bit? Are we playing our part as privileged human?
Let's end this heart-warming story of an inspirational woman with a small poem from her. The lady who showed that life is unfair but it is in our hands to make it just by helping others.
"Kisine mere qabar par ake muskura diya
Kisine mere qabar par ake muskura diya
Bijli chamkke gir pari
sara kafan jala diya"
Sindhutai Sapkal inspired everyone to NEVER GIVE UP because life goes on.