Mumbai, Jun 4 (IANS): Born as an unwanted child and bred in poverty and obscurity, eminent social worker Sindhutai Sapkal, who is known as the 'Mother of Orphans' in Maharashtra, has been conferred the Woman Of The Year Award by the Ladies Wing of the Indian Merchants Chamber.The award was presented to Sapkal at a glittering function here Friday night by President of Innovation Society and Industrialist Pratima Kirloskar, who was the chief guest at the ceremony.
Born in a poor family, Sapkal was nicknamed 'Chindi' or a rag, and could attend school only till fourth standard. She was married off at the age of nine and abandoned by her husband at 20 - she left her home with an infant daughter in her arms.
Sapkal eked out a living begging on the streets and trains where she met thousands of orphans and abandoned women like her.
She started her social work by adopting the orphans and has adopted over 1,000 children till date and nurtured them through donations and charities.
She has set up around a dozen orphanages throughout the state. Later, even her estranged husband and in-laws came to her for help and she accepted them without bitterness.
In her early days, she donated her own daughter to an orphanage to remove the distinction between her biological child and orphans.
Her life was immortalised in an award-winning biographical Marathi movie "Mee Sindhutai Sapkal" in 2010, made by Anant Mahadevan.
Responding to the felicitations, Sapkal said that people must bravely face all the hurdles that come in their way in life.
"Life is its own reward. There is a God in every grain of sand who takes care of you - live on with love and face the world with a smile," Sapkal said amidst thunderous applause by the gathering of eminent business personalities, social leaders, diplomats and other invitees.