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Ex-NRI businessman rebuilds life as auto driver in Kerala, offers free rides to dialysis patients

Vinju Salim.Photo: Special Arrangement.

When life throws unforeseen challenges, one needs to be more resilient to face and overcome them. Vinju Salim, 41, of Kollam in Kerala was having a happy life running his business in Oman for 12 years, but unforeseen challenges led to the collapse of his venture, and he had to return to his native place in Pathanapuram empty-handed in 2018. Refusing to succumb to despair, Vinju chose to rebuild his life by becoming an autorickshaw driver.

His determination led him to invest in an electric auto, embracing both sustainability and cost-efficiency. Operating his new vehicle in the bustling streets of his hometown, he is now working tirelessly to make ends meet.

Vinju’s humility after facing financial debacle opened his eyes and ears to the sufferings of the people around. He decided to do what he could to help others. One day, while waiting for passengers outside a hospital, he noticed an elderly man who seemed distressed. Upon inquiry, he learned that the man was a dialysis patient who couldn’t afford a ride home. Deeply moved by the man’s predicament, Vinju offered him a free ride. This simple act of kindness sparked an idea in Vinju’s mind.

Determined to make a difference, Vinju started to offer free rides to economically disadvantaged dialysis patients. Soon, he became a lifeline for many who struggled to afford transportation to their vital medical appointments.

“Patients undergoing dialysis require at least twenty-five thousand rupees per month for their treatment. I decided to chip in with free rides to do my bit to help them. Supporting their travel cost is a small but meaningful way I can offer help,” said Vinju, who lives with his wife and two children.

Vinju, who has studied only upto tenth standard, is always a phone call away for a dialysis patient to go to the hospital. Even at one in the morning, he’ll be ready at their doorstep to transport them to the dialysis centre. “Many have called me insane for offering free rides even while I am struggling to make ends meet. I am least bothered. Life has taught me a great lesson that humanity is more important than anything else in the world,” he told “Open Digest“.

Vinju’s electric auto, now a symbol of hope outside local dialysis centers, has made a significant impact on the lives of many patients.

Balancing time to go on other rides, Vinju remains committed to his mission. He believes that people should seek ways to help those in need, no matter how small the gesture may be. Vinju, who is an active social worker, has also donated his stem cells to a child in 2022.

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