You can’t survive on fresh air and sunlight, they say. Jamie Waltham, a 37-year-old Englishman is proving them all wrong.
In a farm in Honennahalli in Karnataka’s Tumakuru District, which is a three-hour drive from Bengaluru, this Englishman has built a low-cost, eco-friendly home. What’s more, this home runs on fresh air and sunlight. Built on a 220 sq ft plot, the home is equipped with solar panels and a sewage managing unit, and can accommodate up to six people. It took two months and cost about Rs 1.5 lakh.
Jamie now wishes to replicate this model for the several homeless people in India.
With a background in organising boxing matches and weddings, Jamie landed in India with the intent of working towards building homes for the homeless.
This former businessman from Hull, East Yorkshire, told The Times of India, “That many developing nations face the challenge of providing basic needs to people haunts me. I have always felt a pull towards India. The idea of people living in huts and tents without toilets disturbs me. I believe the world has enough money to provide basic facilities to all. With all these thoughts running through my mind, I landed in Mumbai in the first week of May.”
He soon realised that it was almost impossible to get land in the maximum city and that was when he decided to move to the outskirts of Bengaluru. A chance encounter with an entrepreneur named Uzair Ahmed is what steered Jamie into looking at Bengaluru as a potential place to set up his low-cost home.
A plot belonging to Uzair’s family was available, and that was where Jamie began work. As a gesture of gratitude, Jamie named the home after the eldest member of Uzair’s family – Zahir.
He tells the publication, “Procuring the right materials, be it solar panels, inverter or wood, wasn’t easy. I had to make several trips between Sira and Bengaluru. It’s not like England where you place an order, and within a day or two, things are in place. Materials are scattered from a small store in Shivajinagar to a big yard in Bommanahalli.”
Now that his first home is built and ready, he intends to hand it over to a villager. He will then go back to England only to return with more volunteers who can help equip the local people with the required skills to build a low-cost home.
While the government has launched several schemes like the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, which is the world’s largest housing programming for the rural poor, the country aims to build 30 million houses for the rural poor by 2022, low-cost homes built by Jamie will only help in achieving that target.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)