Rotary Houses for the sightless

Village Sakkimangalam near Madurai sports a new look with 30 new concrete houses lining the lanes, thanks to Rotary clubs of Madurai Central and Madurai Star, District 3000. What makes the project notable is that the new house-owners are visually-challenged.

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In 2006, the Tamil Nadu government had allotted housing sites of 600 sqft each to 53 visually-challenged people in this village. While RC Madurai Central constructed 22 houses for these people, the Rotarians of RC Madurai Star have undertaken to build the remaining 31 houses in a phased manner through their Trust. Eight of these houses were completed and the beneficiaries got the keys to their new homes on December 26 last year from former Union Minister P Chidambaram who presided over the house-warming event organised by the club.

Expressing joy and gratitude, Soundaravalli ­Dhamodharan, a beneficiary, said, “Paying monthly rent was a nightmare. After moving into our own house, we are much relieved. They have also provided power supply. We are looking forward to live in harmony with others in this colony.” While all the houses are fitted with fans and lightings, the local body is now laying water pipelines to each household and street lights are being erected. The approach road and the colony streets are structured by Rotarian engineers. “Owning a home is beyond our dream. It is unfortunate that we are unable to see our benefactors,” said Easwarlal, another resident, adding that the Rotarians have been meeting their regular needs for the last 15 years.

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“The construction cost for the eight houses was Rs 23 lakh which we raised from among ourselves, friends and relatives. We plan to hand over the remaining 23 houses to the beneficiaries in two years,” said SL Setumadava, the managing trustee and executive secretary of the club, envisaging an estimate of Rs 65 lakh.

Ensuring livelihood

The club is trying to ensure regular income for the families of the visually-impaired who had moved to this colony.

“We have to make arrangements so that sighted and otherwise capable members can be profitably employed,” he said. The club is mulling over vocational training like appalam and dhoop (benzoin resin) making. However, he is quick to add that materials have to be brought to this place and finished goods should be taken out for delivery with a common assembling point which is no easy task.

A mighty thanks to Rtn Murugesan, a contractor, who supervised the construction without monetary gain for the housing project, said DGN RVN Kannan at the inauguration.

While eight Rotarians and their families are behind the housing project, more are willing to donate for the same and the club is all set to adopt this as its signature project. “But we’ll be able to finish it at the earliest, if the project was funded by a Rotary grant,” pointed out Setumadava. “We don’t know how to accommodate this project to fit into one of the focus areas of Rotary International,” he admitted.

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