If you are reading this article, then you are a part of the population in the country which is privileged.
By privilege, we do not mean that you have private accounts in Swiss banks, a private jet or several multi-storeyed mansions, but a roof over your head, three meals a day and a bed to sleep without a care in the world.
Imagine being shooed away from public spaces, begging to eke out a living, scrounging for food in garbage bins and sleeping on the footpaths—that is a typical day in the life of a homeless person.
According to the 2011 census, around 1.77 million people in the country were registered as homeless, and that was eight years ago.
Various non-profit organisations across the country have been working towards bettering the living standards of the homeless and destitute, but apart from a few temporary night shelters scattered across the country that only offer temporary accommodation, little has been done from the government’s side to tackle the crisis of homelessness.
Theruvoram is a non-profit organisation in Kochi that has been rehabilitating people living on the streets without any form of financial assistance from the state government or donors for over a decade.
Founded by Murukan S, who is an autorickshaw driver, the organisation, which is also known as Theruvora Pravarthaka Association, has rescued over thousands of homeless children, elderly and ailing people from various cities in the state and has given them the dignity of life that even the government has failed to lend.
Supporting Murukan in his selfless endeavour is his wife, Indu R, an MBA graduate who left her job to join her husband in his cause. Although the society was only established and registered in 2007, Murukan has been involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of the homeless for over 18 years now, during which he managed to turn a new page in the lives of over 8000 people.
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In a world where the lives of the downtrodden are conveniently overlooked by those in power and position, what prompted the young man to act otherwise?
“I had been once amongst the homeless and had it not been the kindness of Brother Mavooris, a well known social worker who rescued many children, including me, and rehabilitated us to Don Bosco Snehabhavan, who knows whether we would have even survived or not? For nine years, the orphanage became my home and helped me turn a new page in life,” says the 34-year-old to The Better India.
After Murukan left Snehabhavan, he worked with Childline Kochi for six years, where he realised that there were close to 4000 orphanages across the state but no shelters that took in the homeless.
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Maybe the memory of a childhood that was spent on the streets was still fresh in the mind of the young man, who decided to help those who weren’t as fortunate as him to have an angel like Brother Mavooris in their lives.
“I was 16 when I had made the decision. It wasn’t very easy, as I didn’t have a steady flow of income that could facilitate my endeavours and in no way was I going to ask anyone for money from the government or the public. In the past 18 years, I have done all kinds of menial jobs that includes even cleaning sewers just so that could continue with my crusade,” he remembers.
Murukan has dedicatedly worked for this cause for almost two decades now, and his efforts have not gone unrecognised.
In 2012, he was felicitated with the National Award for Child Welfare by Former President Pranab Mukherjee. This was followed by the Times Now Amazing Indians Award in 2016, which was presented to him by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, in Delhi.
Murukan consolidated all the prize money that he had received and set up a trust under Theruvoram, which is managed by a team of 11 committed individuals. “I realised that with all this money, I could actually do something that would really impact the lives of countless people in the state with a roof on their heads,” he says.
With an aim to build a home for the homeless, Murukan went ahead and purchased a plot measuring 4000 square feet in Alappuzha with all the money he had saved.
However, building a structure that can house and feed countless people requires funds that go well beyond the money that Murukan can ever make as an autorickshaw driver.
“There are many people in the world who are rich enough to erase poverty but couldn’t quite care any less. What is the point of garnering all the riches if one can’t put it to good use? My aim is to not just provide a shelter but also propel a change in the society and I won’t stop until I achieve it,” says a determined Murukan.
To make his dream a reality, he has teamed up with Milaap, a crowdfunding platform, and hopes to raise adequate funds to build a safe and permanent haven for the homeless and destitute across the state.
If you wish to be part of Murukan’s selfless endeavour, you can contribute here and make a difference to the lives of countless people.