Toronto: When a vision of a person gets constant support from a like-minded group of people, that vision takes the shape of an organization. Furthermore, when this vision becomes the core objective of the organization, success can never be far. Such is the story of “Merchant Foundation”, a Canadian non-profit organization functioning under the aegis of the brilliant vision of Mohammed Merchant, or Merchant Bhai (as he is fondly called), since 2007.
It all started in the 90s, when Merchant Bhai and his wife, started helping new immigrants coming to Canada with basic aids. He did this completely out of his benevolence towards humanity and to help new immigrants, regardless of their background or faith, to counter the difficulties that a non-resident faces in Canada.
This contribution of Merchant Bhai for Canadian non-residents was greatly through socio-cultural events and community building. For instance, during that time, he used to organize a casual get-together event called The Family Forum. This was a meeting event where newcomers in Canada can interact with each other and form a social circle to communicate with. It can be difficult for anyone to socialize in a new country all at once, instantly. But Merchant Bhai made this possible for new residents in Canada.
Initially, Merchant Bhai used to conduct all this by himself and then with a small group of volunteers. After his untimely death in 2007, this group continued the same efforts under the banner of ‘Merchant Foundation’. All these years, they maintained the egalitarian structure, wherein anyone interested in contributing to the community could join the team. Merchant Foundation was formally incorporated in 2021 as a non-profit organization. They are now celebrating their 15 years anniversary.
The core objective of Merchant Foundation Canada is to provide a sense of community to Malayali immigrants and to help with their social integration in this country. Although this community is mainly comprised of Malayali Muslims, the services provided by this organization has expanded and support people of all communities for the same cause.
Since 2007, this non-profit organization has been helping newcomers in Canada in their path of life and social upliftment. Merchant Foundation in Canada provides all the basic support that is deemed essential for the success of these newcomers in a new country and environment.
Path of Growth
As an early immigrant himself, Merchant Bhai recognised the need of newcomers in Canada. This requirement instigated a vision, compelling him to start supporting these newcomers with all they need for success, in the best way possible.
Gradually more people joined him and from an individual initiative, it grew into a group objective. More and more newcomers started to get benefitted from this initiative. With the goal of helping more people, this group objective witnessed a paradigm shift and Merchant Foundation was formed. The organizational way of undertaking the activities made the endeavor more planned and effective in meeting its objective.
The growth was not only in numbers, but it was also in diversity as well. For instance, in the time span of 2007-2010, the Merchant Foundation community used to be only less than 20 Malayali Muslim families in Canada. Today Merchant Foundation continues to grow strong with more than 250 families. What used to be concentrated in the GTA region, the events has expanded to residents across Ontario and even outside the province. Initially, Family Forum was the main event organized by Merchant Foundation for its members to socialize, but today they have diversified with a lot of socio-cultural events like Cricket Tournaments, Eid-ul-Fitr Carnivals, Community Iftars, Women Empowerment Programs, Immigration Programs, Treasure Hunts, Fitness challenges, Youth focussed events etc.
Additionally, they have a WhatsApp Group named “Merchant Foundation” to facilitate smooth communication of newcomers in the region with them. The only purpose of these events and actions is to build up a strong community of newcomers and enable everyone to lead a successful life in Canada.
Charities and Contributions
As told previously, with the formation of the Merchant Foundation, the seeds of benevolence got pollinated across a wide radius. The group is now not only able to support more people, rather, it is now capable of extending their helping hands during crisis. For instance, the group joined with other organizations in Ontario to provide COVID kits in 2020 to health workers and affected individuals to help them come out of the crisis. They also contribute regularly to local food banks to care for the lesser privileged.
These activities are not only restricted to Canada. They helped greatly by contributing to the Kerala Flood Relief Fund in 2018. They are currently running an initiative called Compassionate Hands for the general public by providing assistive care equipment to patients in hospice care.
A great vision is always like a ray of light that kills the darkness of despair and crisis. This statement befits the noble initiative of Merchant Bhai that is carried on by Merchant Foundation on an escalated level. If you are in Canada and missing your community, or need assistance for success, please do get connected with the Merchant Foundation. They will help your way out.
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