Handcart Puller to Educationist-Entrepreneur
Moses Michael Gomes was the youngest of a family of 8 children: 6 sons and 2 daughters. Both his parents had good command over English without formal schooling. His father practiced bone-setting.
He was very close to the Church from the age of 10 – doing honorary work such as arranging chairs, cleaning etc. Many priests were mentors to him. From his earliest years he was interested in small business. He began buying and selling crackers, setting his wares up on a carom board. On completing his matriculation, his daddy presented him with a hand-card. His mother questioned the wisdom of such a gift; but Moses feels that handcart has taken him further than any other gift! He began carting chairs @ Rs.10/-. Through all this, he learnt the key principles of business: providing valuable, cheerful service – never saying “No!” and the fine art of making money without money: Hire – install – get paid – pay for the goods hired on credit.
He also began playing music, giving expression to another of his passions. He continued studying side-by-side – initially in the Marathi-medium and was then transferred to what was called as Anglo-vernacular medium; where he started studying English. Priests had a lot of confidence in him. They gave him a lot of responsibilities to shoulder that indicated that they trusted him eg. leaving him alone in the room to count cash.
He applied for a job in school; but got only temporary assignments such a peon, clerk etc. which did not work to his satisfaction. He continued with some side-business or the other – a grocery store, a laundry where he would get hundreds of napkins washed by somebody and ironing them himself. He learnt touch typewriting and was an instructor for some time. He took up typing of work contracts, typing hundreds of such contracts and earning money. Then, he took the precaution of learning a trade in air-conditioning – just in case he did not get a job! For college studies he went all the way to Ismael Yusuf College, Jogeshwari East as it was a government college and no fees had to be paid.
He requested his parents to use the “hall” in the day time to take classes. His eldest brother Francis had expired so he called it Franciscan Kinder Garden starting with 17 children. The benches would be piled up outside the house during the night; as the entire family stayed in a single room. He started the primary classes in his Dad’s name added the secondary section and the Junior College in his Mother’s name. Seeking a place of his own, he moved his classes to sheds. Thereafter, he moved out tenants and began constructing the initial rooms for his school building.
Fr Vincent Gonsalves – whom Moses calls his backbone, asked him to go ahead and get into construction; assuring him of finance on condition that the teakwood he got, be given to the Church. He ended up constructing a number of one-room tenements in Kurla village. He did this without knowing how to read RCC Plans; through human effort. In fact, he became a labor contractor for RCC. All the existing school buildings have been carefully constructed under his able supervision.
He is married to Jean and they have an only daughter.
He has not grown by receiving any ancestral property; rather by receiving ample blessings from his family. Today his compact school building accommodates 8,000 pupils, in shifts, with classes from KG to XII, in 6 divisions. Despite charging reasonable fees, 250-400 of these students get free education every year. The students also get exposed to gardening and music. He has a large terrace garden on the school building.
He was in politics as a Block President with the Congress for sometime but gave up. Politics is not for simple people he says. He maintains cordial relations with all parties; contributes no money to any party; but gets his work done free of charge. This is his way of not spoiling relations with anybody. He is not interested in being in the limelight. “I’ve enjoyed wherever I went.”
One of his dreams is still pending – putting up a Home for the Aged. He is involved in only two organizations: Dimensions and the Christian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
What is the secret of his success? 100% belief in God, do the work without expecting the fruits. Focus on what you are doing. Accept failures as they come in life. Have a motto in life to serve others. ‘Let Your Will be done oh Lord.’ Let all things come and go . . . sailing smoothly and landing (safely) on shore. Trust in Divine Providence. You don’t get everything. You (might) have to work for it.
His message to organizations is: Reach out to people in a simple way.
Be strong in your faith, he urges the youth. (Being) rich or poor is immaterial. Be focused and deadline oriented. Believe in Him and hold your intention/task in prayer – else you’ll be a vagabond in life!
(Interview published in Dimensionally Yours, Nov 2011 issue)