With just a few days left for Onam, 51-year-old K. Sundaran, a mason and builder, is busy giving finishing touches to the five houses constructed by him on 25 cents at Kolikadavu Thenkola in Iritty.
Mr. Sundaran has constructed several houses in the past 20 years. This time, however, it is not to sell and make a profit. But for gifting it to the poorest of the poor, who have no land and roof over their heads.
All the money that went into making the houses have been raised from his savings. It was a collective decision by him and his family to construct and hand over the buildings, said Mr. Sundaran.
“It was the savings that I had for my daughter’s marriage. But when she told me her decision not to marry for the next two years so that she can continue her work, my family agreed to my decision to use this money for the poor,” he said.
They have selected five beneficiaries, and each of them will have a 750-sq.ft. house on five cents of land. Each of the houses have two bedrooms, a hall, a kitchen, a work area, a living room, toilets, water tanks, a motor pump, and all the furniture required. Along with the land, it has cost him over ₹1 crore.
Along with this, he will also give ₹20,000 to each family. This amount is to overcome sudden illnesses and other hardships for the family members, he added.
About 160 people came forward, but he handpicked two beneficiaries from Iyyankunnu and three in Payyam panchayat after meeting and visiting the places where they lived.
Mr. Sundaran said that there was a time when he lived with his children and wife in a makeshift house with tarpaulin as a roof for over two years. He was then a labourer who chiseled laterite stones used for construction houses. But later, he learned the art of constructing buildings, started his own business and his economic situation improved, he recalled.
“I know the pain of not having a roof over one’s head. This is an opportunity to help others,” he said
Interestingly, it is not the first time he is constructing a house for the poor and needy. Ten years back, he had constructed a house in just 48 days for a poor family, who were living in miserable conditions and handed it over to them free of cost.