I’m a mother to those who have nobody.
Known as the “Mother of Orphans”,
Sindhutai Sapkal has devoted over 40 years to raising over 1,400 children.
年近70岁的她现在开了5家孤儿院 两男两女 她甚至还为奶牛建了一个“家”
Now aged almost 70, she runs five orphanages – two for boys, two for girls and even one for cows.
My family is very big. I’m a mother of thousands of children.
and mother-in-law to 282 sons-in-law.
I have 49 daughters-in-law, I’m mother to 175 cows.
My family is very big.
Despite only having a basic level of schooling herself,
Sindhutai has always maintained the importance of education for the children she raises
and many have gone on to be doctors, lawyers and engineers.
Unlike conventional Orphanages
the children don’t have to leave when they reach 18.
Instead they stay until they gets jobs or are married.
I help establish their family. The government says,
the child is 18, now ask them to leave.
Just because they’re 18 doesn’t mean they’re wise
In fact, this is the time
that they need more love and support.
I sometimes thank God for not giving me parents
because maybe I would’ve never received so much love
I may not have had the chance to grow up with so
many brothers and sisters.
26-year-old Vinay was taken in at one and a half months old by Sindhutai,
when she found him abandoned at a railway station.
She’s raised me from childhood.
On 1st December, she got me married too.
The family I have is with the blessings of Mai (Mother) alone.
Without Mai, I wouldn’t have reached here.
I may have lived on a railway station
or would’ve done something else.
She has literally kept us like petals of flowers.
She raised me and thousands like me
with so much care and love.
The fact that Mai has taken care of so many of us,
that’s my favorite thing about this place.
The ones who had no parents were given a home by Mai.
Sindhutai has four children of her own
and her daughter Mamata has spent the last 10 years running one of her centres for boys.
受母亲影响 她从心理系毕业后 继续攻读社会工作硕士
Inspired by her mother, she graduated in Psychology and did her Masters in Social Work.
I don’t look at my role as the manager of the organization,
but as a custodian. Every being
inside these walls and buildings,
their protection by all means is my responsibility.
所以 我在这的角色就是一个监护人 一个守护者
So my role here is that of a custodian, a watchman.
We each carry the realisation that we have come
from a very troubled and unhappy past, but the life
that we lead now is very good and blessed.
Like the children she is taking in,
Sindhutai herself has had to overcome many challenges.
她十岁就结婚了 20岁时 她已经有了3个儿子
She was married age 10, had three sons by the age of 20
and was cast out by her husband when 9 months pregnant with her daughter.
Having delivered her daughter herself in a barn,
she survived by singing for food on trains.
Hunger taught me about the world,
hunger sent me to the needy,
hunger taught me how to live.
Since childhood I have watched my mother,
If I talk of my childhood, I have never
grown up in the framework of a single family.
Twelve years of my life were spent in a hostel.
Whenever I would come home for holidays,
I always saw that my mother
was the main person in our family.
Learn to overcome obstacles.
My struggles gave me my life, gave me a name.
It gave me development, it taught me
how to be a mother to people.
Struggles, thanks to all the struggles.
Sindhutai has won many awards and has even been granted honorary degrees.
She received no government funding, relying on private donations.
So she still maintains a gruelling public speaking schedule.
I have to give speeches to earn out rations. I may
have 750 awards but I can’t bread from that.
Sindhutai hopes her legacy will live on,
not just through the centres that she and her family run,
but through her example.
And many of her children have been inspired to go into social work,
including 18-year-old Pratibha who was taken in 16 years ago.
The fact that Mai puts her heart into everyone,
I love that. I love the way Mai talks.
She is not just my mother, she is everything to me.
These are kids who have seen unhappiness and
sadness and have now come so far.
Tomorrow, they will do even better work than I am doing
that I’M sure of.
When a river overflows and clashes against a rock
it doesn’t keep hitting itself against it,
it slowly finds a way around it and keeps flowing.
Rocks of challenges will come, learn to find a way
around it. That is what I always say.