For this heir of an affluent family in Thrissur, Central Kerala, serving the community comes naturally. Born in a rich business class family, Boby Chemmanur instinctively took interest in the nuances of running businesses. “Eventually I graduated in commerce to take over the reins of our family business which has been running since 152 years,” recollects Chemmanur.
However, at a young age, his views were influenced by the reading of Mother Teresa’s biography. While he was still a student in ninth standard, Chemmanur replaced business entrepreneurs with Mother Teresa as a role model and inspiration. Consequently, he found himself attracted to the pious devotion of the Albania-born nun towards the poor and destitute. “When I first went through the book, I felt very bored and thought she was eccentric,” he is quoted as saying. “But, when I completed the book, I had to change my impression and felt that she is a role model and an ideal lady who spreads the light of love and peace to the poor. She is the abode of love for those, who have drifted away from love and peace.” There were two other incidents that changed Chemmanur’s view on life. “One was when I could not save a man dying in front of me and the other when I managed to save a life by rushing him to the hospital,” he says
These moments, urged him to start his own foundation called the ‘Lifevision Charitable Trust’ to serve the destitute and needy in Kerala. The trust’s main objective is to open homes for the poor in every area that has its jewellery business branches. “The home opens its doors to the poor without any bias of caste, creed, religion or politics,” states the official website of the trust.
“When we started the organisation, we never conceptualised the extent to which we would expand and be able to reach out to those in need,” says Chemmanur. Besides Mother Teresa, he has another role model, who inspires him to keep working for the marginalised in society. “Jesus Christ said, “I have come to serve and not to be served.” I am simply following his message,” he says.
His charitable trust performs a variety of social services from constructing poor homes to distributing free rice and financial aid to the poor, to conducting free mass marriages for the financially handicapped families. “During the 2004 tsunami disaster, the organisation stretched its resources and helped thousands of families, says a volunteer working with the trust. “Recently, we also reached out to the distressed farmers of Wayanad district in Kerala.” Through a hard working and vibrant team of volunteers Chemmanur has been able to locate the poor, old and destitute and provide them with food, accommodation and medicine.