by Pratiksha Jadhav
Pune, March 7, 2021
Nalini Dhende was only four when she lost her parents and ended up in an orphanage. Years later, she faced domestic violence at the hands of her husband. These hardships, though, only toughened her up. Instead of getting bogged down by challenges, she found a way to overcome them and support other disadvantaged women. Nalini now runs Nirmal Seva Foundation, a Pune-based non-government organisation that she started in 2018 to provide shelter and care to women in need.
At present, the foundation is looking after a total of 10women with some of them suffering from paralysis and mental disorder.
“From my struggle, I knew that there were many women who would have no one to support. Therefore, I decided to set up a foundation especially for women,” said the 47-year-old who is the recipient of prestigious awards like Jijau Kanya Award and Sree Shakti Gaurav Puraskar Award among others.
Even before setting up this foundation, Nalini had been involved in various types of social work aimed at serving the neglected section of the society. In fact, she developed a will to serve the needy while growing up in an orphanage along with her two sisters.
“I was just four-year-old when our parents died in an accident. As the responsibility of three kids came on our uncle’s shoulder, he decided to put us in an orphanage. Saying that I found these girls crying at a station, he left us in a child care home in 1977 and never came back even to meet us”, recalls Dhende.
She, along with her sisters, lived in Sanskar Gruha for the first two years before being transferred to SOS Children’s Village, a child care NGO located in the Yerwada region of Pune.
Under the watchful eye of the NGO’s founder, Shashikala Dubey, Nalini, her sisters and some 13-14 other kids grew up there. She completed her education up to 10th standard, did a two-year nursing course and then got married with the help of the institution at the age of 18.
Though she was ready to embark on a new independent chapter of her life, she decided to serve the orphanage where she had grown up. For the next two years, she worked for free as a nurse there.
Later, she got a government job but when her husband started an organisation for the welfare of children from rural areas, she left her job to begin working for it.
Everything went on well for some time before her husband started insulting and abusing her. Traumatic as this period was, she was again able to pull herself together, albeit with some help from her mother-in-law.
“I expected love and respect from my husband, but he insulted and despised me. He didn’t care about me and my two children. He left us and went to another city. I tried to convince him but he ignored and misunderstood me.
“After knowing that he didn’t care about us and didn’t want us in his life, I felt terrible and spent four months crying. At this point of time, my mother-in-law instilled courage in me and backed me up to live independently,” she says.
After months of struggle, Nalini finally landed a job as a nurse in a private hospital. Later, a builder from Koregaon hired her to serve his mother. As she received Rs 50,000 from the builder for taking good care of his mother, she decided to invest the money to start a new project. Nirmal Seva Foundation came into existence soon.
Today, as her foundation is able to look after several socially disadvantaged women, Nalini considers it her biggest success. “Smile on the faces of these women is my biggest award. The love that I receive from them brings me satisfaction,” she says.
Nalini’s exemplary social service has also given her son, Omkar, a reason to beam with pride. “My mother has struggled a lot and she has not only achieved success but also built her identity and I am very proud of her,” he says encapsulating his mother’s success story.
Caption: Nalini Dhende
Caption: Nalini Dhende with inmates of Nirmal Seva Foundation
Caption: Nalini Dhende poses with various awards she has won over the years.
About the Author:
Pratiksha Jadhav is an undergraduate student at the Vishwakarma Centre of Communication for Development, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication.