Braving the scorching sun, relentless rain and frightening dark, Swarnamma and her two mentally-challenged brothers have been sheltered in the shabby shanty at Oolankuzhy in Anayara. Ever since their tiny hut collapsed two-and-a-half-years back, this is how the threesome - 69-year-old G Swarnamma and her brothers N Ashokan, 53 and N Mohanan, 50 - has been living.
From this New Year onwards, it will be a thing of the past and they can happily live inside the newly-built home painted in magenta and yellow with two rooms, a kitchen, toilet and verandah next to their current ‘residence.’
Constantly seeing their plight, the local residents shelled out as much money as they can and mobilised Rs 25,000, which could hardly suffice to construct a dwelling place. Into the scene came K M Gireesh, who runs a construction company, and took the responsibility of funding for the home on his own. “Though I have heard of their condition well before, only two months before that I got an opportunity to come and meet them and understand their plight. I did not have to think twice and the construction started,” says Gireesh.
Swarnamma’s encounter with ‘this life’ began almost three decades ago. The brothers, who were leading a normal life until then, began to behave strangely all of a sudden. Her mother had taken care of the brothers till her death and from then on, naturally, it became Swarnamma’s task to look after the two. Pointing to her shanty, she says: “When the old home collapsed, there were no options other than to demolish it and the Corporation built this. Our mother was working as a sweeper and after her death I became a daily-wage labourer doing the same at Medical College post office.”
From the job, Swarnamma earns Rs 125 a day. Before setting out for the job around 6 am on all days, she arranges food for her brothers. As there is no facility to cook food at the ‘one-room home,’ she entrusts her younger sister to prepare food at her home. “In my absence, sometimes they eat and at other times throws it out,” Swarnamma says. Also, she helps the brothers in their daily morning chores. Swarnamma has a son, G Prasad, who is abroad doing some manual labour and she does not depend on him either.
“Using the money we collected, a solar panel was installed in the house for electricity. The cost of construction of the building, Rs 2.75 lakh, was borne by Gireesh himself,” says P K Gopakumar, councillor of Kadakampally ward.
Mayor K Chandrika will hand over the key of the newly-built house to Swarnamma and her brothers on December 31.