Each of us has that one person, whom we look up to. Their charisma is magnetic and their personality attractive. They inspire us and motivate us, thus becoming an inspiring figure. Here is a story of one such inspiring figure around me who has been a great impact on the lives of many.
Lalita Kamble also known as Lalita Bai is a 75-year-old social worker who is passionate about children and teaching. She was 20-year-old when she got married and 21-year-old when she had her first child. Unfortunately, the baby could not survive due to a lack of nutrition during pregnancy and died.
This incident hit Lalita bai very hard. Things started turning difficult for her as people started making stories about her, calling her a witch, unfortunate woman, a witch who ate her child, and whatnot. Hearing these stories influenced her husband’s mind and the family, and everybody held her responsible for this tragic chapter.
But life had something else hidden for her. After the death of her first child, she could never conceive again and was deprived of the happiness of being a mother forever. This gave the society to make more comments she faced immense societal rejections. So much so that her family disowned her because she was infertile.
Lalita Bai’s life had become meaningless, with no family, friends, or anyone to call her own. However, she was a tough woman and believed that God is with her. To make ends meet and earn her daily bread she joined an NGO in Nangargaon, Pune. She worked as a caretaker there and taught small kids as she was moderately educated.
Lalita bai found happiness working in this NGO and served poor, disabled children, and helped them live a decent and respectful life. Over the years Savitri Shantaram NGO became Lalita’s family and she never felt abandoned or disowned again. It was the year 2010, when late-night Lalita bai was returning from Bhiwandi to Nangargaon from NGOs work. The bus had halted on a lone street near a small tea stall for passengers to freshen themselves when Lalita heard a baby cry.
She reached the nearby garbage bin and found an infant dumped; the baby girl was covered in paper. She had bites all over her body, possibly due to rats biting her and wounds. Lalita Bai couldn’t control herself and gently lifted the baby girl. As she checked her, she found the baby’s’ body temperature high and sick. It was a few hour’s journey to Nangargaon, so Lalita carried the infant with her, admitted her to a hospital in Nangargaon, and rescued the child.
It was the first time when it struck to Lalita, that she saved one child, whereas there are a million children like Pari (Lalita named her with love) across the country who are abandoned and thrown away with brutality, especially if they are girlchild. Lalita made a promise to herself that day, that she will save such children and adopt them as her child.
Lalita quit her job at the NGO and started her trust and Child care center in the same locality with some help. Soon she was able to rescue such infants who were found in dustbins or footpaths, left to die. Within a year, by 2011, Lalita had rescued 150 cases. By 2015 she had adopted 500+ children. At the beginning, it was difficult for her to manage their nutrition, clothes, and monetary requirements needed to raise so many children. However, she worked day and night in people’s houses as a maid and had few good contacts due to her prior job, which lead to a successful center.
Her deeds were recognized by the top government bodies, society and she was granted immense support by everyone. Luckily, she had claimed that, she never had to go through regressive difficulties and believes that it was God who guided her throughout, and that good work needs no sources. When Pari, Lalita’s first rescued child turned 17, she named Lalita Kamble as her beloved Lalita Bai, and ever since then, she is known to be the famous Lalita Bai!
Today in the year 2020, she is mother to over 2000 children and continues to work for her cause. Lalita also took the education of children as a serious concern and, teaches children herself in government schools. Lalita Bai also works for various social causes, clean India movements, Save the daughter Movement, and even at the age of 75 remains active and connected to all her children. Many of Lalita’s children study abroad today and many girls have tied knots in decent houses.
Lalita’s children call her “Amma”, and an interesting fact about her is that she recognizes every child of hers by their name, even if they just give her a call! Lalita’s achievements have been recognized by the Guru Sabha Somellan, with the “Humanitarian Award” and “ShishuSevaAward”. She has over 50 awards to her name through the last decade, and even today, she lives a decent life in the same place where it all started.
She is a symbol of true inspiration, who dedicated her life to motherhood and social work. This is her story. She is Lalita Bai, a true goddess.
By Sristi Prasad, Pune