The Hope Society, a Bengaluru-based organization, has launched an initiative to build homes for the homeless each month with people’s participation.
The new movement on housing called ‘Project Shelter’ was initiated by Claretian Father George Kannanthanam on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
“Humanity is best made visible and practical when we help our needy citizens to have their basic needs,” said Justice Santhosh Hegde, a former Supreme Court judge and Lokayukta who inaugurated the project. He lauded people’s participation and volunteerism in the project.
Bishop Sebastian Edayanthrath of Mandya opened a new house and handed over the key to John Bhaskar, a person in a wheelchair due to his disability, to mark the symbolic beginning of the Project Shelter.
Bishop Edayanthrath recalled that the Claretian priest has already constructed 1,500 houses for the homeless in his 30 years of service to leprosy patients, drug dependents, the disabled, and the victims of disasters.
He said such programs can be implemented with the cooperation of generous people in society.
John Bhaskar said that he would never have been able to build a house without the support from Project Shelter.
Father Siby Eravimangalam, councilor for Missions for the Claretians, unveiled the plan for the house to be constructed for the family of Vishal, a child with cerebral palsy.
“Social movements like this to provide basic needs for the suffering humanity is the need of the time” he observed.
Sebi Thomas, a founding member of Project Shelter, thanked the guests and honored Pithrvedi, a pious association of the St Thomas Church, Jalahalli for contributing 200,000 rupees for the construction of the 1,500th house for the disabled persons.
Father Kannanthanam said the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi is the most appropriate day to launch the people’s movement where people with houses will contribute a specific amount each month so that Project Shelter can complete a new house each month.
The Project Shelter started its program by laying the foundation for the first house, meant for Vishal.
Vishal’s parents have offered their land for building shelters for another five more beneficiaries. Father Kannanthanam said six houses will be built on their land as an apartment over Vishal’s house. “This is humanity,” he said.
The Project Shelter aims at mobilizing one million rupees every month required to construct a house from 1,000 persons with a contribution of 1,000 rupees each. A core team of ten persons from different walks of life have come together as Founder Members of Project Shelter.
Father Kannanthanam conceived the idea of mobilizing voluntarism in building homes for the homeless after he had successfully completed and handed over 1,500 houses in his 30 years as a Catholic priest. He began by constructing two houses for the poor to commemorate his ordination in 1992.
Besides building homes for the homeless leprosy patients treated in Sumanahalli, the priest has built houses for victims of natural disasters in various places, including 150 houses for the tsunami affected in Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu, 650 houses for the earthquake victims in Nepal in 2014 and more than 300 shelters and houses for the 2018 flood victims in Kerala.