A family in the jewellery business brings some glitter into the lives of the poor and differently-abled in myriad ways
About two decades ago, Mahendra Mehta, a well- known businessman and international Rotarian, set up Ratna Nidhi Charitable Trust by pooling resources from his family and friends. Antwerp-born Mahendra Mehta’s mission was to transform the lives of children, helping them to reach their full potential, even if they came from the worst possible financial conditions.
A registered charity, Ratna Nidhi Charitable Trust, was established and continues to be headed by the family, including trustees Asha Mehta and Rajiv Mehta. Over the decades, its projects cover a wide range of activities and initiatives, not just in India but international locations as well. The Mehtas are the owners of Surat Diamonds.
Rajiv Mehta, in particular, is passionate about this work and personally presides over the mobility camps for the physically-disabled and the hearing-impaired that the Trust conducts every few months.
These camps distribute aids, such as callipers for polio-affected children, prosthetic limbs (especially the Jaipur foot, which is light, reasonable and easy to fabricate and adopted by the disabled), wheelchairs and tricycles. The Trust also provides hearing aids and conducts audiology tests for the hearing impaired. All these are provided free of cost.
The Trust has already conducted several camps in Mumbai this year; at each of these camps 40 to 60 persons were fitted with Jaipur foot or provided orthopaedic or hearing aids and wheelchairs. It has also set up a permanent Jaipur foot centre at Mahalaxmi (central Mumbai). The Trust held a three-day mobility camp at Dakor (Gujarat) in February where 1,365 appliances were distributed to people in need. The joy, says Rajiv Mehta, is in transforming lives and watching how the ability to walk independently increases people’s self-esteem.
Apart from the Jaipur foot, Ratna Nidhi works with Shuruat Mobility Business, a project launched in Mumbai in collaboration with Shuruat Ltd (www.shuruat.com
). This is an international firm that incubates innovative products and solutions for those at the bottom of the pyramid. One of its goals is to enable the physically-challenged to earn a steady income by running successful street-vending businesses on tricycles. These tricycles enable people to sell food, drinks and packaged goods while sitting on the tricycles.
The project also provides initial financing, support and guidance to help them build successful micro-businesses. This effort was motivated by the realisation that a significant number of physically-challenged individuals—victims of polio, spinal deformation and amputation—are young adults. Poverty, illiteracy and unemployment rates are very high in this segment and they struggle to achieve financial independence.
Another activity is the ‘Food for Education’ programme where it partners with NGOs like Masoom, Sujaya Foundation, Sunrise, Children’s Aid Society, Gharkool and Buniyaad, to provide mid-day meals. The Trust offers education sponsorships to children of terror victims in Mumbai, donates books and gives vocational training to the underprivileged.
According to a recent report on its website, 800 street children and children from remand homes were taught not only to make craft-based products but to manage the entire process—from buying raw materiasl to marketing the finished products. It also ran a 16-day intensive home management training programme for 100 slum girls who were taught skills such as cooking, child-care, caring for the aged, hygiene, cleanliness and grooming.
You can help Ratna Nidhi’s work by donating to the Trust, by telling the needy disabled about its donation programmes, or by donating educational books, garments, used computers and toys for re-distribution. You can also volunteer to offer vocational training. Money donated to the Trust is eligible for tax exemption under Section 80G of the Income-tax Act.
Ratna Nidhi Charitable Trust
5th Floor Vasant Vilas
31, DD Sathye Marg,
Mumbai - 400004 India
Ph: + 91 226 150 6435 / 23898930