Sun | Dec 4, 2022

Businessman Gul Mansukhani gives $2 million in scholarships

Published:Monday | September 26, 2022 | 12:08 AMAinsworth Morris/ Gleaner Reporter
Juliet Holness (right), member of parliament for St Andrew East Rural, and Gul Mansukhani (left) of the V. Mansukhani Foundation, present a symbolic $2-million scholarship cheque to be shared by student nurse Zoe Hitchins (second left) and Gavieal Gordon d
Juliet Holness (right), member of parliament for St Andrew East Rural, and Gul Mansukhani (left) of the V. Mansukhani Foundation, present a symbolic $2-million scholarship cheque to be shared by student nurse Zoe Hitchins (second left) and Gavieal Gordon during a handover ceremony at Jamaica House. The scholarship is named in honour of Mansukhani’s late son.

Five months ago, Gul Mansukhani, managing director for the appliance and manufacturing company BlackPoint, lost his only son, Vijay, to asthma.

Since then, although his life has been turned upside down, he has also been on a mission for his son’s name to live on. Prior to the death of his son, plans were in place to establish the V. Mansukhani Foundation in memory of his mother, Veena Mansukhani.

Mansukhani recently handed over $2 million cash in scholarships to medical student Gaviel Gordon and nursing student Zoe Hitchins, in the Banquet Hall at Jamaica House on Thursday, the first from the V. Mansukhani Foundation.

This was done under the patronage of Juliet Holness, member of parliament for East Rural St. Andrew, where the two students reside.

Gordon, who was could not continue her studies year due to unpaid fees, was overwhelmed when she was told that she would receive $1.5 million of the $2 million towards her school fee.

“I was depressed, demotivated, because this has been an uphill battle with The University of the West Indies since I’ve began in 2018,” Gordon told The Gleaner.

She continued, “US$28,000 (her school fee) is not pocket money, especially for a student coming from a poor socio-economic background. My parents are farmers, so I felt depressed. My parents didn’t have it,” the 23-year-old said.

For the year she sat out school, Gordon said she spent the time volunteering, working odd jobs, and tried to keep herself occupied.

“I feel extremely grateful, so to the Mansukhani Foundation, thank you so much,” she said, as her hope is renewed and she can see herself graduating in 2024.

“$1.5 million is a lot to give to one child, but I thank you so much for the investment you have given. And just as how you have invested in me, I will ensure that I will go to school and do extremely well,” Gordon promised.

She also thanked Holness for supporting her. “Mrs H, you have been there through it all. I can call you at any point in time, at any point in my journey … I feel like your child,” Gordon, a graduate of Immaculate Conception High School, said.

Gordon, who is from Woodford in the district of Freetown, St Andrew, hopes to become a cardiothoracic surgeon. The main reason behind that, she said, was her cousin dying of a heart attack at the age of 21 years, in 2017.

She said she will be the first doctor in her family.

Holness described Mansukhani’s deceased son as a young and vibrant youth, and thanked him for making the donation.

“Others would say, ‘I’ve lost my only son. Why should I help anybody else?’ and fall into depression, but Mr Mansukhani and his wife decided that we are going to take everything we have and use it to take care of other children to be as successful,” Holness said.

Holness said Gordon was deserving of the scholarship, because, as a hard-working student of Holness’ constituency, she has witnessed her losing out on going to classes due to the poor standard of living of her family.

“As wife of the prime minister, as member of parliament for East Rural, St Andrew, I am lucky in many ways … and it gives my heart immense joy to see a child who has called me on many occasions, crying; and I remember once bawling myself, because I couldn’t figure out a way,” Holness said.

“I’ve seen so many other persons coming to me for help, particularly for medicine, and the Government just cannot afford to fund the number of persons who would like to be able to do medicine,” she said.

“I’m very emotionally touched. I lost my only son and created this foundation for him; and I will continue to support Jamaica and the children, and this is just a start,” Mansukhani said.

He continued, “Education was what my son was all about and I will continue it in his name.”

He then wished both young ladies the best of luck in their studies.

Mansukhani has been giving back to various causes. He previously collected funds from the Indian community in Jamaica and offered 30 scholarships, between $50,000 and $250,000, and provided back-to-school support.

Mansukhani also spearheaded the donations of whiteboards to replace old blackboards in schools.

The aspiring nurse, Hitchins, said she was very grateful and felt honoured for the $500,000 she received. “Nursing is something that I’ve always wanted to pursue and it’s now possible,” she said.

ainsworth.morris@gleanerjm.com