Visually impaired man becomes ‘Aatmanirbhar’, sells snacks after losing job during pandemic

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The Covid-19 outbreak rendered many people jobless, but it not deter the spirit of a visually impaired couple from Ahmedabad from becoming an inspiration to others.

Realising the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s idea of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, Ashwin Thakkar has now set up a canopy stall selling homemade snacks and seasonal fruits outside the passport office in Mithakhadi area of Ahmedabad.

Ashwin has been toiling hard in the scorching heat which has caught the attention of the people.

He spoke to IANS about his struggle in settting up a fruit stall after losing his job during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said that before setting up the fruit stall, he used to work as a receptionist at a prestigious hotel in the city from where he was fired during the pandemic.

Ashwin and his wife are both visually impaired. His wife used to work in a massage parlour but stopped working due to the lockdown imposed after the Covid outbreak.

As the couple went jobless, it adversely impacted their financial condition.

“Even after the unlocking phase, no one from the hotel contacted me again. When I tried to contact them, they did not respond,” said Ashwin.

After losing his job, he decided that he should learn to become self-reliant.

He spoke to his friend Baldev Parmar, who is also visually impaired and lives in the Anjar area of Kutch, along with another friend Minesh Ojha from Ahmedabad and discussed about setting up his own business.

Finally, Ashwin started his own business of selling mangoes in June 2020.

“We started trading in kesar mango boxes from Kutch,” he said.

“During the initial days of starting a business, we sold 150 boxes of mangoes. After the mango season, we started Kharek business from Kutch. After this I started a dry snacks business in collaboration with some local industry. We also make fresh sweets and special dishes on festivals such as Diwali and Navratri,” he said.

“Nitin Sumant Shah, the Managing Director of the Heart Foundation and Research Institute, helped us financially and helped me set up this canopy stall,” says Ashwin.

Bhushan Punani, Secretary of the Blind People’s Association who’s also a school principal, also offered financial help to Ashwin and his wife.

Asked about his wife’s contribution, Ashwin said that his life is incomplete without his wife. She helped him right from placing orders on WhatsApp to selling fruits to the customers who frequently visited her massage parlour where she used to work.

“I have been doing this for two years now and I can earn enough to support my family,” Ashwin said.

“Even in the sweltering heat, I work hard sitting in the open. Now if monsoon comes, it will be very difficult to continue selling snacks. If someone offers me help and finds me a small rented shop, I can put in more hours of work and earn more money. I can’t even keep snacks anymore in the open. If I could set up a shop, the food items will also be saved from the scorching heat.”

“Hasit Vaidya has helped me immensely to deliver snacks to different areas of Ahmedabad. I accept online payments so that Hasitbhai could manage the money generated from the business in cash,” Ashwin added.

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