Our Community – Monica Melwani

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 16, No. 35            August 31, 2006

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With her warm smile and generous spirit, Monica has become an integral part of our community.

With diverse cultures settling in what once was a small sleepy fishing village, San Pedro Village has now grown to a town. Now, tourism makes up an integral part of the income on the island. Because we live on an island, getting supplies to furnish our homes is sometimes difficult. Someone furnishing not only the needs of homes and businesses but of families as well is Monica Melwani of Wings.

    Monica was born on November 18th, 1959 in India to proud parents Rani and Mohandas Mirpuri. She grew up with two sisters and one brother enjoying her beautiful homeland. After graduating high school at the age 15, Monica attended a Home Science School where she learned the basics of cooking.

    In 1977, Monica met and married, Kishore Melwani. The two moved to Hong Kong where she was a stay-at-home wife while her husband worked in their family’s import/export offices. Soon after, the couple received the news that they were expecting their first child. Dinesh was born to the joyous parents on July 25th, 1978.

    Monica and Kishore then decided to uproot their family and move to Taiwan. They remained there for three years and while there, they welcomed a bouncy baby girl, Shalini on October 18th, 1981. Due to circumstances beyond their control, the main office in Taiwan closed down and the couple uprooted their family once more. This time they moved to Belize settling in Orange Walk, arriving around 1987. During the time that they lived in Orange Walk, they had the opportunity to visit San Pedro Town once. “It was so much different back then,” commented Monica, “very, very different.”

    Dinesh and Shalini were growing up, and both Monica and her husband realized that they wanted to provide a better education for their children. “Back then the education was not there, not the way that it is now.” The family was vegetarian and unfortunately there was not a variety of vegetables in the country at that time either, so the family moved once more and joined family in Canada.

    Once there, Monica felt that she was not comfortable with just staying at home anymore. Her preferred past time was joining the family business, President Stone. There, Monica first started in the office where she taught herself how to fax documents, and assisted in any way possible. Soon enough, she decided to move to another department. Monica’s choice was the Accounting room, where slowly and surely she began learning the ropes of that department as well. All self taught, she soon moved to the Import/Export Department where she learned the buying and selling aspect of the company and soon had moved to the Administrator’s Department where she learned all about banking, creditors and the legalities of the business. Soon enough, Monica had become the administrator of one of the leading manufacturers and importers of young men’s, women’s and kid’s sport ware. With head office located in Hong Kong, the collection consisted mainly of sweaters, t-shirts, blouses, etc. as well as a full range of denim wear.

    Montreal was the family’s home until both Dinesh and Shalini graduated from McGill University. Both siblings majored in law (Dinesh also majored in Psychology). Dinesh was hired by one of the biggest companies in Boston where he lives with his wife Sheena. Shalini, on the other hand, lives in New Jersey with her husband Lavesh Samtani, who is also a highly acclaimed lawyer himself.

    After both their children graduated and married, Kishore, who hated the cold weather in Montreal, decided to move back to India where he could tend to his sick mother. Monica was offered the opportunity to handle the day-to-day running of what would become “Wings” in San Pedro Town. It was an offer she could not refuse and this year arrived to make her home in the Caribbean isle. The separation was not easy for the couple and Kishore visits Monica as often that he can.

    Wings has now become one of the most prominent stores on Ambergris Caye. With plans to be constantly expanding, Monica assures that soon Wings will cater to every aspect of Ambergris Caye. “We started selling mainly clothing and footwear and some gift items but gradually we have been adding more and more and today we offer various departments including accessories, electronics, houseware, bath and linen, baby, luggage, and perfume.” Wings forms part of the Mirage Group of Companies, owned by brothers Anil and Arun Hotchandani, with a store in Belize City and five stores in the Corozal Free Zone. Because of their bulk buying, Wings is able to offer extremely competitive prices, “We love sharing our savings with our customers. You name it, we got it. And if we don’t have it - we get it! We plan to cater to every business and home on the island, whether it’s a restaurant, hotel or home we will provide everything they may need from plumbing to furniture and clothes for the family.”

    In her free time, Monica enjoys meditating and watching movies, “Meditating is my source of understanding, it keeps my life in balance and it allows me to accept changes. In life there are always up and downs but with meditation the transition is so much easier, and gradually your general attitude towards everything is fine-tuned to be for the best”

    Monica has now settled very well into her island life where she dedicates most of her time running Wings. Although she has accomplished much in her life, she states that her biggest achievements can not be seen on a plaque or certificate. “My children’s successes are my biggest achievements as well as seeing the smile on my boss’s faces once I have done a good job. No certificate can give you that satisfaction.”

    Supplying the island from plumbing, to lamps, houseware, accessories and perfumes, Monica Melwani has brought a much needed service to the island. Settling in this Caribbean isle, Monica now forms a fundamental part of “Our Community.”

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