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Anumuthu, the founder of Puducherry-based Snehan NGO — an initiative that aims to rehabilitate the homeless and give them basic care — did not have an easy childhood.

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He was seven when his father, a woodcutter, passed away. And all of a sudden, he was left with the responsibility of feeding his family of five.

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So he started working as a farm labourer along with his mother at a meagre wage of Rs 4.

Long hours of work, unhygienic working conditions, and low wages deeply affected his childhood.

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“We would eat rice and water on most days. It seemed as if there was no light at the end of the tunnel,” Anumuthu tells The Better India.

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That’s when a priest came and offered to support his education, bringing hope to the family.

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After completing his education in electrical engineering and then going on to do a photography course, Anumuthu decided to give back to society.

“I volunteered with a couple of NGOs and decided to work for the welfare of the homeless,” he says.

His journey of the next few years introduced him to the realities of the world. “I met a vast variety of people — some would pelt stones at me when I approached them, and others would break down while revealing their past.”

“A few had been thrown out of the house by their own kids. It took weeks, sometimes months, for me to form a bond with them,” says Anumuthu.

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He provides such homeless people with medical care at Government hospitals along with haircuts and baths alongside food and clothes.

People who have severe wounds or diseases that can be treated are admitted to the hospital. “We conduct these visits every week so that they know someone cares about them. Living on streets can be extremely brutal, as displacement is an everyday phenomenon,” he adds.

So far, Anumuthu and his team have provided skill training and employed the homeless at tea stalls, hotels, and shops.

NGO Snehan undertakes various projects: Through ‘Snehan Home’, the team initiates palliative care for the disabled, old and sick adults, who are left on the street to suffer death.

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Through ‘Snehan Outreach’, volunteers go to the streets of Puducherry for five days a week and distribute tea, bread, and lunch packs to the homeless.

Its tailoring arm empowers marginalised women to earn through tailoring and making eco-friendly cotton bags.

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