Sindhutai Sapkal – WOMAN of ACTION™

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A Celebration of Women™

is elated to Celebrate the Life of this powerful woman leader that is devoting her life to the education of orphaned children, with a focus inside India.


“God! Teach us to smile, but let us not forget, we had cried some day!”



sindhutai sapkal wearing tealing sari sitting at desk leaning forward

Sindhutai Sapkal


Sindhutai Sapkal also known as ‘Mother of Orphans’ is an Indian social worker and social activist known particularly for her work for raising orphan children. Childhood nickname “Chindi” meaning torn cloth.

sindhutai sitting in blue sari holding little girl dressed in pink She was named thus as an unwanted child. Her father’s name was ‘Abhiman Sathe’.

She was brought up in abject poverty.

She was born on 14 November 1948 at Pimpri Meghe village in Wardha district Maharashtra to Abhimanji Sathe, a cowherd by profession. Being an unwanted child, she was nicknamed ‘Chindhi’ (torn piece of cloth). Her father was keen on educating Sindhutai, much against the wishes of her mother.

Abhimanji used to send her to school under the pretext of cattle grazing, where she would use ‘leaf of Bharadi Tree’ as a slate as she could not afford a real slate because of her financial reasons. Abject poverty, family responsibilities and an early marriage forced her to quit formal education after she passed 4th grade.

Sapkal was forced to marry at the age of 12 to a man twenty years her senior in Wardha District.

Sapkal was beaten and left to die by her husband. She gave birth to a baby girl in a semi-conscious state in a cow shelter outside their house on the night of 14 October 1973. Sapkal took to begging on the streets and railway platforms to survive. Because she feared being picked up by men at night, she often spent the night at cemeteries. Such was her condition that people called her a ghost since she was seen at night in the cemeteries

She later donated her biological child to the trust Shrimant Dagdu Sheth Halwai, Pune, only to eliminate the feeling of partiality between her daughter and the adopted ones. Her daughter herself runs an orphanage today.

As of 2012, Sindhutai Sapkal has nurtured about 1,442 orphaned children. Many of the children whom she adopted are well-educated lawyers and doctors, and some, including her biological daughter, are running their own independent orphanages. One of her children is doing a Ph.D. on her life. To-date, she has been honoured with more than 500 awards.  

Below are listed only a few:

    Receives the Padmashree award for the year 2021 were declared on Monday by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • 2012 Real Heroes Awards,given by CNN-IBN & Reliance Foundation present the 5th Edition of the prestigious Awards.
  • COEP Gaurav Purskar , given by College Of Engineering ,Pune (started from 2012).
  • 2010 – Ahilyabai Holkar Award, given by the Government of Maharashtra to social workers in the field of woman and child welfare
  • 2008 – Woman of the Year Award, given by daily marathi newspaper Loksatta
    Sahyadri Hirkani Award (Marathi: सह्याद्रीची हिरकणी पुरस्कार)
  • Rajai Award (Marathi: राजाई पुरस्कार)
    Shivlila Mahila Gourav Award (Marathi: शिवलीला महिला गौरव पुरस्कार)

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She has devoted her entire life for orphans.

As a result she is fondly called ‘Mai'(mother). She has nurtured over 1050 orphaned children. As of today, she has a grand family of 207 son-in-laws, 36 daughter-in-laws and over 1000 grandchildren. She still continues to fight for the next meal. Many of the children whom she adopted are well-educated lawyers and doctors, and some, including her biological daughter, are running their own independent orphanages. One of her children is doing a Ph.D. on her life.

She has been honored with over 274 awards for her dedication and work.

She used award money to buy land to make a home for her children. Construction has started and she is still looking for more help from the world. Sanmati Bal Niketan is being built in Manjari locality at Hadapsar, Pune where over 300 children will reside.

At the age of 80, her husband came back to her apologetically. She accepted him as her child stating she is only a mother now! If you visit her ashram, she proudly and very affectionately introduces him as her oldest child!

In person, she comes across as an unlimited source of energy and very powerful inspiration, with absolutely no negative emotions or blaming anybody.

A marathi film was released in 2010, is a biopic inspired by the true story of Mee indhutai Sapkal. The film was selected for world premiere at the 54th London Film Festival.

The film is a biographical account of Sindhutai Sapkal, a woman who became a social activist after a traumatic life. Born in a poor, cattle grazing family in Wardha as Chindi (Ragamuffin), Sindhutai was first married off at the age of 12 to a man who was 20 years elder to her and then abandoned by her husband on charges of infidelity.

Travelling through the backwaters of Maharashtra, the brave heart never abandoned hope and courage and ended up in San Jose on a fund-raising mission for her orphanage which still provides shelter to homeless kids.

sindhutai sapkal wrapped in plaind sari sitting at celebration table with candleWhen some Volunteers visited the Orphanage managed by Sindhutai at Manjari Farm on 07th May,2011, we were amazed to see the development of kids. They were so polite and well behaved, which is tough to see in the Kids of Cartoon TV yug!

All were studying in Schools, whereas many with parents are forced to beg or do work as child labor to make money!

Children with facilities take studies lightly, but we personally met boys studying in BCA and LLB.

Kids were so much attached to each other and to Mai and to Care Takers, which is not seen in today’s families even in blood relations. As kids don’t have any other place to go in Summer vacation, they were sent from one Ashram to another Ashram (ie.Saswad to Manjari Farm and Vice Versa) to spend Summer Vacation to have change, which proves that Management and Mai tried to take care of this feeling so well.

We request you to visit personally and motivate your friends also to visit her website, so that you will get fair idea of real needs and developments.

Sindhutai Sapkal, ‘Mother of Orphans’ receives Padma Shri Award 2021

For her exemplary contribution to society, Sindhutai Sapkal has received more than 270 awards from various national and international organizations, including the Nari Shakti award, India’s highest civilian award dedicated to women. She has nurtured over 1500 orphaned children over a period of 45 years

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A Celebration of Women™

welcomes this powerhouse into our global alumni with open arms, looking forward to future collaborations, bettering the lives of all women and children, focusing on the challenge of servicing the needs of children.

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Brava Sindhutai!

Original post July 2015/Up-date: December 2021

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