Tag Archives: begging

Sindhutai Sapkal

Called the “Mother of Orphans”, Sindhutai is a formidable and loving force who has brought a stable, peaceful home environment to more than 1,442 orphaned and destitute children in the Indian State of Pune.  She continues to achieve these accomplishments through begging and giving talks to facilitate donations for her six home locations.

Born on November 14, 1948, much has been made of the fact that she was unwanted.  Her nickname, Chindhi, literally means “torn piece of cloth”.  Although an illiterate cowherd, her father, Abhimanji Sathe, shooed her out the door to attend school, against her mother’s wishes.  As the family lived in abject poverty, she used the leaves of a Bharadi tree to write on, with thorns as writing implements.   Her education ended after fourth grade when family problems and a marriage at 10, to a 30 year old man, necessitated it’s end.

Over the next decade, she gave birth to three male children.  But when she agitated for pay for the village women who collected cow dung from the fields to burn for fuel, her living situation changed.  Until then, a local strongman, in collusion with the forestry service, withheld all forms of payment.  Her work resulted in the granting of wages to these women.  The strongman, in revenge for her actions, convinced her husband to throw her out when she was overdue for the birth of her fourth child.  That night she gave birth to a girl in the cow shed.

Sindhutai separated the umbilical cord with a stone. Walking several miles to her house, she was again rejected with her mother telling her to beg at the rail station for food and shelter.  So began the next stage of Sindhutai’s life, relyng on the kindness of strangers to support herself and her daughter.  At first she sang as she begged but then she overcame her fears and started giving speeches and was so persuasive that her collections increased.

Over time  began noticing the many children who had nowhere to go.  Deducing they were orphans, Sindhutai took them under the mantle of her care, begging all the more to support her new charges.  At first she did it to make money, but then she realized her mission was to provide a home to all who needed it.  That mission has led to the establishment of six homes, with destitute, abandoned women coming for shelter and acting as housemothers.  In an effort at fairness, she turned her daughter over to the care of a Trust to not show favoritism to the orphans and destitute children.

As of the latest article found, she has adopted 1,442 children and has collected a large assortment of sons and daughters-in-law and grandchildren.  Many of her children went on to take profession positions – doctors, lawyers and administrators.  She still speaks to obtain funds, all of which she pours back into the shelter and care of children. In an act of irony, her husband returned to her, but she only accepted him as a child, she was done being anything other than a mother.  Sindhutai introduces him as her oldest child.

 

 

The Other Woman

Every night I pray for her.
In my mind’s eye
I so clearly see her.
My platitudes ill advised,
meaningless . . .

How can I justify our God’s plan?
Why should I be free of need
and she have anything but?

I know it’s stereotyping
but her swollen belly children
deserve an accounting.

Soon she will be gone –
disease stealing her strength away.
They will be orphans -alone –
under a tattered canopy,
thrust into begging to survive.

Just one more parent gone,
one more family destroyed
one more ten year old
parenting a large brood
under the blazing sun.

Why she – why me –
I who have nothing to give,
intimately knows every wrinkle
worn of care . . .

But I am here
babbling words to our Father
as she dies bit by bit
under the African sun
in a refugee camp
alone . . .

Among the Food Lines

food line in winterThe line is long – 200 deep
some people  standing here for 2 hours
shifting foot to foot
sitting on cold cement
mostly quiet although some know
each other way back chatter away

An amorous couple
display their affections
to the ire of those around them
she plies her wares among those
with a few dollars to spare

Mentally challenged
follow steps they’ve taken
0ver and over again
sad, sometimes angry,
depends on whether they
have medications to take.

Drug addled young people
laughing, jumping, in their cliques,
checked out of traditional paths
sleeping bags strapped to their backs
pandering for spare cash

An old man talking
about his campsite at the river
off the beaten path
the squirrels and birds he feeds
comfortable and safe

Unemployed
men with hard eyes and tough frowns
others sad – no jobs available
mothers keeping children close
families struggling –
without the lines – nothing

Physically challenged
approach lines in walkers, with canes,
one man has motorized wheelchair
he rides around town with.
some stumbling, limping, in casts
many lack medical coverage
to assist glaring needs

Old woman curled in her tattered blankets
bothering no one
no home to go to
hoping the shelter
will have a bed tonight

These are the ones
not too proud for hand outs
so many others go without
but won’t associate with
the poor unworthy
who go home with food