Hello Readers! This is Cristina with an interview of a woman, who is a mother. Someone who saw the child, not their gender, religion or age. Someone, who despite having nothing, became those children everything. She is Sidhutai Sapkal, age 72, who gave those forgotten children a place to call ‘home’.
Sidhutai is a resident of Pune, an Indian social worker and activist, known for her work of raising orphaned and abandoned youth in India.
At the age of 20, Sidhutai was forced out of her house and thrown in the cow’s drum in delirious state – the reason being so she gets hurt and have a miscarriage. Fortunately, a cow saved her and at that place Sidhutai gave birth to her daughter. After that she begged on the streets and railways sides. With nowhere to go, alone and with an infant, she had no choice but to spent the nights in the graveyards, between the still burning shrouds. In process, she happened upon the situation of children.
Seeing the children sleeping on the pathways and railway stations, she was overcome with sympathy for them. knowing the pain of abandonment and the loss of parents, she decided to led a help a helping hand to them.
She was barely ends meet before but with the children’s responsibilities on her head, she doubled her efforts. She sang on the bars, begged in the streets and railway sides, to feed the children she undertook her wing. To dismiss the possibility of favoritism, she even sent her daughter away to study.
Working tirelessly, everyday she provided her children food to satiate the hunger, educated them the best she could and provided them a place to sleep peacefully. But, most importantly, she gave them what they wanted most – ‘a mother’s love’. The efforts earned her the title of ‘Mai’ from children, which means ‘mother’.
She gave them all the tools they needed to survive this world, taught them the lessons life taught her and till they were able to stand on their own two feet, she stood in front of them as a shield. That was the start of the legend of “Sidhutai Mai”.
Mai has won many national and international awards for her work, most recent being the Padma Shri Award in 2021 for Social Work. Every paisa she spent in making a home for those abandoned and orphaned, in making their lives a little easier and better.
Today, many of her children are adult and have opened their own independent orphanages, education centers and health centers, devoted to continue the work their mother started and repay her kindness, even a little bit. My salute to the courageous young woman, who saw the poor, hapless youngsters and decided to gave them a mother. For becoming a safe haven for those alone. For fighting against this society, their rules. For helping them battles their inner demons, while fighting her own. For retaining her humanity and staying true to her ideals.