Social worker Sindhutai Sapkal, also known as Mother of a thousand orphans, passed away on Tuesday. Sapkal, who was often called Sindhutai or Mai was awarded Padma Shri in 2021. She adopted around 2,000 orphans and was grandmother to even more.
President Ram Nath Kovind condoled Sindhutai’s death and said that her life was an inspiring saga of courage, dedication and service. “The life of Dr Sindhutai Sapkal was an inspiring saga of courage, dedication and service. She loved and served orphaned, tribals and marginalised people. Conferred with Padma Shri in 2021, she scripted her own story with incredible grit. Condolences to her family and followers,” tweeted Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also paid his tribute to the noted social worker on Twitter.
Dr. Sindhutai Sapkal will be remembered for her noble service to society. Due to her efforts, many children could lead a better quality of life. She also did a lot of work among marginalised communities. Pained by her demise. Condolences to her family and admirers. Om Shanti. pic.twitter.com/nPhMtKOeZ4
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 4, 2022
Born on November 14, 1948, in Wardha, Maharashtra, Sapkal was forced to drop out of school after she had passed class 4. At the age of 12, she was married to a 32-year-old man. After she gave birth to three children, her husband abandoned her even when she was pregnant. Her own mother and the village where she had grown up refused to help, forcing her to beg to raise her daughters at one point. She overcame these circumstances with sheer willpower and started working for orphans. Raising over 1,050 orphan children, she had 207 sons-in-law and 36 daughters-in-law.
in 2021, Sindhutai Sapkal was conferred with Padma Shri for her contribution to society. She received more than 750 awards and honours in her lifetime. She used the award money to build shelters for orphans.
Her life and times inspired film maker Ananth Mahadevan to direct Mee Sindhutai Sapkal (I Am Sindhutai Sapkal), a Marathi film with Tejaswini Pandit, Jyoti Chandekar, Upendra Limaye and Neena Kulkarni in leading roles. The film won several National Film awards, including the Special Jury Award.