I could not imagine myself doing this.

And the Indian government does nothing to help her. Hell, they’re threatening her.

The story of Sindhutai Sapkal is one of incredible determination in the face of adversity, rebirth and love of children who nobody else wanted. The 68-year-old has raised over 1,400 orphans, offering them not just food and shelter, but also the love of a real family. Her amazing work has earned her over 750 awards, and the nickname “Mother of Orphans”.

Sapkal runs four orphanages in her home town of Prune, India’s Maharashtra state – two for girls and two for boys – with the help of her biological daughter, Mamta, and her eldest adopted children, some of whom have become lawyers, doctors and professors. The children under her care were found trying to fend for themselves in railway station, abandoned in dustbins, or even dragged by stray dogs in the streets. New ones are brought to her orphanages all the time, and as long as they are eligible for adoption, she never turns them away. But unlike state-run orphanages, the Mother of Orphans doesn’t give her children up for adoption with other families, and doesn’t turn them away when they turn 18.

“Even after turning 18, the children are with me. I even get them married and help them establish their families,” Sindhutai told Barcroft TV. “The Government says that once the child is 18, he or she should be asked to leave. But just because that are 18 doesn’t mean that they are wise. In fact, that is the time when they need more love and support, to be told about the dangers of life. That’s what I do. I give them wisdom to live. Just because a bird has feathers, doesn’t mean it can fly.”

Sindhutai Sapkal’s activism was inspired by her own hardships growing up. Born into a poor family, she had to abandon her education at age 9, and was married to a 20-year-old man when she was just 10-years-old. Ten years later, when she was nine months pregnant, she was thrown out of the house by her husband, and because everyone, even her family, turned her away, she had to give birth in a cowshed.

“I delivered in a cowshed. I cut Mamata’s umbilical cord using rocks that I found lying there. I went to my relatives, to my mother, but no one supported me. Everyone threw me out,” the 68-year-old recalls.

To support herself and her newborn daughter, Sapkal had to beg and sing in train stations for food. It was during these difficult times that she met many other abandoned youths that were struggling just like she was. She would share her food with them and provide as much care as she could. Some of them started following her around, and that, she says, is how her large family started to form without her even realizing. (….keep reading….)

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