She was called ‘Mai’ (Mother) by hundreds of poor orphaned children she adopted . Sindhutai Sapkal gave them food , shelter and the love of a mother.
Her story is that of struggle , sacrifice and compassion.
She was thrown out of her house by her husband when she was pregnant. She gave birth to her daughter in a cowshed all alone.
She begged on train platforms for food and slept in a shamshan (graveyard) as that was the safest place for a young woman with a child in the night . No one would come as she lived amongst the dead.
It is here that she got her inspiration to live.
One day when she saw a body burn on the funeral pyre, she heard a voice tell her “I am dead , you are alive , make something of your life when you live.”
While she begged for her food by singing songs of god she one day met a poor old man who was dying, she gave her food to him , took care for him and he lived .
She started feeding other poor children on the platform and she became their mother.
People heard her story and supported her . Slowly the number of poor children who she took kept growing . She not only gave them love and shelter but now she started educating them and helped them build their careers.
From begging for her own food she found meaning in life when she started giving, food , love , shelter to other poor children.
Her ultimate sacrifice was when she put her only daughter in a shelter home so she could focus her love on children she adopted .
“as a mother I did not want the bias of my love for my child” she said.
She was honoured with Padma Shri award by the Indian President for her selfless work and sacrifice in giving a home and love to poor abandoned children.
A woman who was disowned by her husband, who had nothing of her own who would beg on platforms by singing became mother to hundreds of children.
How could that happen? From where did the resources come ?
She explained in one of her interviews, “I told my story to people , they got inspired, I asked them to support me so I could support more children.”
She inspired people with her story and they opened their hearts and purse strings.
Sindhutai Sapkal besides teaching us the power of love and she teaches us the power of storytelling to inspire giving.
She was not making powerpoint presentations or presenting the data of problems of poor children.
She was telling people a story , her own story . It was real , it touched their hearts.
Sindhutai was a beautiful storyteller , her words , her way of telling her story, her poetry , is what made her stand out . Thousands from across the world connected with heart and supported her in her journey.
She included them in her story and they became her tribe.
Don’t sell , don’t beg , tell a story that inspires others to act.