Kochi: A Kochi-based school is redefining the lives of hundreds of poor families by building them homes for free.
What started as a noble initiative five years ago to help the homeless family of one of its students, the Our Lady’s Convent Girls Higher Secondary School, Thoppumpady, has succeeded in building a 100 homes for the poor and the marginalised so far.
“The construction of 100th house will be completed this week and the key will be handed over to the homeless family based in Chellanam on February 28. They have two girl children, both our students,” said Sr Lizzy Chakkalakal, principal and the brain behind the House Challenge Project.
Initially, it seemed to be an Herculean task to construct even a single house costing nearly Rs 5 lakh.
“The students used to voluntarily donate their birthday gifts and pocket money for the cause. The teachers and parents also chipped in graciously. But the going was tough then,” Sr Lizzy said going down the memory lane.
However, as the project gained momentum, contributions started pouring in as money, manpower and support. Daily wage labourers, businessmen, politicians, philanthropists, builders, teachers, alumni and many who preferred anonymity came forward to build houses. Among the 100 houses, 12 were constructed and handed over to families hit hard by the August floods.
In fact, the school has “adopted” 150 flood-hit families for a year to help them return to normal life after they lost all their belongings in the flood. “One of the houses handed over was in Kuttanad while 11 others were in flood-hit Gothu-ruth, Kothad, Paravur, Cheranellur and Manj-ummal in Ernakulam district,” she said.
However, Sr Lizzy believes the Centre and state governments can do much more to help poor.
“If a small school like ours can build 100 houses, why is the government failing to build homes for flood-affected after months,” she asked....