Merchant: The eternal helping hand

Vijaybhai could have lived a lavish life befitting a royal family, as he was born rich. But his philosophy was 'God has been kind to me in many ways, there is only one way to repay my debt to him: it is by helping the handicapped.

During the day, he met on an average 15-20 homeless, handicapped persons at his office. On several occasions, even rich people called for help, in their marital problems. Vijaybhai helped school and college students too, in their problems. He made arrangements for medical treatment for many who needed it.

I was associated with Vijaybhai in his work for the blind, to whom he provided white canes, Braille machines, lottery business, cloth agency, fruit vending, public telephone booths and to the handicapped, he provided wheel chairs, three-wheeled cycles, special types of chairs and the Jaipur foot.

In 21 years of social service, he arranged 17 marriages between blind, handicapped and leprosy afflicted couples and conducted the ceremonies at the Hindoostan Mills. He saw to it that all the married couples were provided with the necessary household items for everyday use like utensils, crockery etc.

His philosophy was that everyone comes with his own fortune into this world, and he (Vijaybhai) would try to help in augmenting it, thereby getting peace of mind and spiritual happiness, as also a sense of nearness to God.  I was associated with his other projects too. We collected 2000 bottles of blood which we gave to the Tata  Blood Bank.

Excerpted from the book, Vijay Merchant in Memoriam by Marcus Couto.

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