Thiruvananthapuram

A farm for the school, from the homeless in Thiruvananthapuram

Giving back: Residents of a camp preparing the ground for vegetable farming at the Government Central School at Attakulangara in the capital on Friday.

Giving back: Residents of a camp preparing the ground for vegetable farming at the Government Central School at Attakulangara in the capital on Friday.   | Photo Credit: S MAHINSHA

Camp residents want to ‘contribute to next generation’

The Thampanoor bus stand has been home for lottery seller Radhakrishnan on most days. Except for a weekly trip to his home in Nedumangad, he used to sleep at the bus stand, waking up early to sell his tickets. When the COVID-I9 induced lockdown came without a warning, he, like many others, was stranded here.

As the civic authorities took steps to rehabilitate the homeless last week, he was moved to the Government Central High School in Attakulangara, where he is now lodged with 223 others. But, they are not remaining idle. For the past four days, around 30 of them have been working hard to clear the shrubs and other undergrowth on the campus, to set up a garden and start vegetable farming. “I have some physical disabilities. So, I do whatever I can. We are cultivating okra, brinjal, spinach and other vegetables. It is a fairly large area and hence clearing it took time,” says Radhakrishnan.

‘No compulsion’

Sanal Robert, a social worker who oversees the camp, says that officials of the district administration and the Corporation have been supportive of the endeavour. “We have people from the ages of 28 to 92 here. Some of them are physically challenged, while some others are too old to move around and some do not co-operate at all. There is no compulsion. Some of the residents started doing this work, and on seeing the small garden, the tahsildar offered them support. Vegetable seeds are also being provided,” says Sanal.

The residents include those who came from other States to visit temples here and got stranded, those forced to live on the streets due to their meagre income, and even a few with criminal records. “I came to this city 36 years ago. I left home when I was young. For the past many years, I have been a cleaning staff in a hotel here, where I used to sleep. After the lockdown, I did not have food or money. That is how I ended up here. This vegetable farm are our small contribution to the next generation. They will be glad to see these, when they return after the vacation,” says a 62-year-old man, preferring anonymity.

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Printable version | Jul 3, 2020 4:53:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/a-farm-for-the-school-from-the-homeless/article31252380.ece

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