Pune: Who doesn’t like a hero? While most only get a glimpse of heroes in movie theatres, there are at least 57 school children in the city whose lives have been changed by a real-life hero – businessman and social worker Manjett Singh Virddi.
Virddi, a Lulla Nagar resident, runs a furniture shop and for the past 15 years, has pooled the profit from his business to support the education and welfare of 57 underprivileged and differently-abled children in the city.
The 47-year-old had started out with very different dreams – dreams of being an actor. The turning point came when his father passed away, and his mother asked him to drop acting and do something more worthwhile instead, “something that would make her proud”, said Virddi.
So he took over the furniture business his father had set up, and used the profits to help children studying at organisations such as Anjuman Trust, Seva Dham Mati Mandh and Sant Vana. Virddi often keeps as much as Rs 12,000 aside for the children each year, using the funds to support their different requirements.
“I invest all the money that I get from business in the education of these children. As on date, I am sponsoring more than 57 school children, providing them with books, bags, school clothes and other items. Apart from these children, my wife and I regularly visit various schools to keep an eye out for other children who cannot afford fees or study material, and sponsor them as well,” he said.
Of course, his penchant for movies was never truly over, and he now infuses children with a similar enthusiasm for films, taking them to movie theatres three times a year. “Every year on the occasion of Diwali, Christmas and Eid I make sure to take these children for a movie. They have no one else to take them to watch movies,” he said.
He stresses however, that these outings aren’t just about entertainment. “It’s not just about showing them a film, but celebrating festivals with them. I do this for the love and affection I get from them,” said Virddi, who had been lauded for his efforts by the former Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh in 2005.
“I am looking for some space where I can construct a school for underprivileged children, so I can teach them the basics of life and help them to be better and independent individuals,” he said.