The flood resistant houses that stand on the banks of the Pamba River have an amazing tale of compassion, love and commitment to nature. It was the expatriate Keralites who had lent a helping hand to forty economically backward families to realize their dream of having a house of their own.
Around three years ago, the government of Kerala had allotted plots of 3 cents each to 140 homeless families. This land was initially under the Thiruvalla Kadaprayar Sugar Mill Factory. Among them, 40 families had erected makeshift homes on the land allotted to them on the banks of the Pamba River and started living in them. However, the severe monsoons had gifted them nothing but despair. When the water levels in the Pamba rises due to torrential rains, these families would grab whatever they can and move to the nearby relief centers. Last year’s devastating floods had spared only the lives of the people in this colony in Kadaprayar. Their make-shift houses and whatever they had owned were completely destroyed in the floods. The people helplessly watched their small houses, which they had built by doing hard labour or by borrowing money, wash away in front their eyes. It was then that the Federation of Malayali Associations of Americas or FOMAA had decided to hold them closer.
This association of expatriate Keralites had reached many flood affected areas in the state, to extend their support and help to the needy. FOMAA, realizing the helplessness of the people of Kadaprayar, joined hands with Thanal, an NGO, to build flood resistant houses for forty families here.
Flood resistant houses
The plan of the houses was drawn after determining the level up to which the flood waters had risen here. The foundations of the houses are built on concrete pillars which are at a height of 4 to 8 feet from the ground level. These pillars were erected after doing piling on the land. Though the water levels have alarmingly risen in the Pamaba River and flooded the nearby areas during this year’s torrential rains as well, water didn’t gush inside any of these houses. During summers, the spaces underneath the houses could be used for storage.
These flood resistant houses, in 500 sq ft area, have bedrooms, formal living area, kitchen and bathroom. FOMAA didn’t limit their financial aid to just building these structures; they also ensured that all the houses are well-furnished with all the necessary pieces of furniture and lights, fans and other essential facilities.
The construction of a single house was completed on a meager budget of Rs 7 lakh. The construction was overseen by the Thanal organization which is known for building houses that can effectively withstand natural calamities. Around Rs 5.5 lakh for the construction of each house was invested by FOMAA and Rs 1.5 lakh was by Thanal. The construction of forty houses was completed in just four months. The incredible knowledge and experience of Thanal in building such flood resistant houses across Kerala had helped complete these houses flawlessly.
Keralites in America
FOMAA president Philip Chamathil says he feels incredibly proud that his association was able to help the flood affected people in Kerala, a bit more than what other expatriate Malayali organizations across the world had done. “This is in fact the success of an amazing team work. When the proposal to build houses was introduced in the FOMAA committee, everyone encouraged it and passed the motion with a huge applause. Not just in Kadaprayar, the construction of such houses is progressing at Aluva and Nilambur as well, with the cooperation of FOMAA. As an honour, the houses built by FOMAA are featured in the official website of the Kerala government,” says Philip.