Eric Correa - 'Building' Lives Again, with Second Housing Project for Poor
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangalore
There are many people who fail to understand that there is more to life than amassing wealth and its vulgar display. At a time when we come across more and more instances of people's greed for power and material acquisition it is gratifying to know there are altruistic persons who think of the welfare of others and are ready to spend a part of their wealth for the needy rather than accumulating it. Eric Correa is one such large-hearted man whose benevolence has given a ray of hope for thousands of people of undivided Dakshina Kannada, who are unable to have a roof over their head. Through his largesse he has become a role model for others to do something good to the society.
Eric had singlehandedly built and donated 34 houses to some of the poorest in Souhardha Nagar in Padumarnadu village in Moodibidri last year on Republic Day, at a public function. Now he is on the verge of completing the first phase of 32 houses of his second project at Kodyadka in Moodbidri. The foundation stone of this second project under the aegis of Souharda Foundation, through which Eric plans to continue the good work he has begun, was laid during the inauguration of Souharda Nagar in 2012. The work had begun in March/April and within 8 months the 1st phase of the project comprising 32 houses is getting completed soon.
Souharda Nagar at Kodyadka is about 8 kms from Moodbidri, just a short distance from the well known Kodyadka Annapoorneshwari Temple. Eric had bought 2.77 acres of this inclined land which is developed to build 64 houses of 460 sq ft in a land of 3.25 cents each. These are environmental friendly single bhk houses with tiled roofs, the centre of which is 15 ft high built at a cost of Rs. 2.74 lacs. The roofs are made of steel and hence there is no reason to worry about the maintenance. Eric says that though he would have been able to provide concrete roofs at the same cost environment friendly tile roofs are used for these houses. They have been able to keep the cost of the house low mainly because of bulk construction. However, if these houses were to be built individually by anyone the construction cost itself would have crossed Rs. 5 lacs per house. So how can common people even think of owning a house?
A look at these homes shows that these houses are well-planned with lot of focus on cross ventilation for circulation of fresh air and maximum utilization of space. There is a hall, kitchen, a bedroom, an Indian-style toilet, separate bathroom and a multi-purpose utility area. “We have given emphasis for providing natural light and air in these houses so that the inmates don't have to use fan or lights to avoid heat and darkness”, says Glen D Souza, the Project Engineer, who shares a perfect equanimity with Eric in putting ideas into action while implementing the projects of Souharda Foundation. The houses which are planned in 4 rows have a 20 meter wide road between the rows. There is enough set-back for every house and equal distance between houses is maintained.
A provision has also been made to set aside the area of two sites for a community hall where an overhead tank will also be built to cater to the water requirements of the colony. There are bore wells for providing water and subsequently provision of water supply through the panchayat will be done.
Eric who shows lot of concern for safeguarding the environment says “this is an environmental-friendly colony where we want to minimize the damage to the environment. We have also provided all the facilities in this colony including street lights, wide roads, drainage facility, water supply with water harvesting facility and the residents don't have to invest on anything. These houses are in fact on par with any commercial projects and there has been no compromise on quality”.
Eric Correa addressing the gathering during the launch of his first housing project for the poor
Layout of New Plan
Eric and his team have drawn inspiration from the first project at Souharda Nagar of Padumarnadu, known for being a model colony where Hindus, Christians and Muslims live in peace and harmony. Of the 34 beneficiaries in this colony 12 each houses are given to Hindus and Catholics and 10 houses to Muslims. To avoid any bitter feelings the houses were allotted on lot system where the 34 beneficiaries were asked to pick up a lot and they were allotted the house they chose. Eric says a similar procedure will be adopted in allotting houses at the new colony also.
So far the Souhardha Foundation has received more than 1000 applications for the 64 houses under construction at Kodyadka. Eric's mentor and guide John L D Souza has shouldered the onerous task of scrutinizing the applications and short listing the beneficiaries. Only after short listing the trustees of the foundation will hold a personal interview and finalize the list of deserving beneficiaries irrespective of caste, creed, language or religion.
It may be remembered that Souharda Foundation was launched publicly during the inauguration of the 1st project. Eric is the Managing Trustee of the foundation with friends Louis Pinto, Titus Noronha, John L Cascia and Fr J B Saldanha as its trustees.
Eric says that the applicants for allotment of houses should fulfill three criteria – namely they should not have any land or property in their name, they should be able to sustain themselves in the new colony and there should be a minimum of three members in a family. Only those applicants who fulfill these conditions will be shortlisted for final consideration. The homes will be registered in the names of the owners one year after occupying the house.
Eric Correa had begun his project for gifting houses to the needy on a silent note. A little inspiration he received by taking a cue from others and incidents of his own life prompted him to do something to help those in need of homes. “I went through a tough phase in my life and once dreamt that if I am successful I will transfer some happiness to the needy”, Eric explains when asked what prompted him to begin this righteous act/
People usually are able to feed and clothe themselves but having a home of their own is a dream for many. Eric decided to build houses for these people and help realize their dreams. The result was his first project “Souharda Nagar” at Muragoli. It was his friend Louis Pinto, who is also a Trustee of the Souharda Foundation who suggested that 'his work should be known and should inspire others so that more people are benefited'. This idea appealed to Eric and that resulted in the formation of Souhardha Foundation to give an opportunity for likeminded people to join him in the noble work.
Taking inspiration of Eric, NRI businessman Ronald Colaco and builder Rohan Monteiro announced a donation of Rs. 20 lacs each and NRI businessman Frank Fernandes promised a donation for Rs. 5 lacs at the inaugural public function.
On January 27, 2013 only the 1st phase of 32 houses will be inaugurated and the 2nd phase will be complted within a year. Souharda Foundation will be able to carry on the noble deed with generous help from likeminded people. Philanthropists can associate with the project as donors by contributing Rs. 50,000 or as benefactors by donating Rs. 1 lac. There is also a provision to sponsor a house by paying Rs. 2.75 lacs - the cost of a house. Those who want to help but don't have ready cash can also pay the cost in monthly installments. Donors can also contribute in kind such as by supplying cement, tiles, steel, sand, stones etc.
Sponsored houses will bear the names of the donors and their names will also feature in the board in the community hall. The colony roads or blocks will bear the names of the big donors, says Project Manager Glen D Souza.
Souharda Nagar – The Model Colony
It is going to be a year since Souharda Nagar of Muragoli in Padumarnadu Village has been inaugurated. Located in 2.25 acres of picturesque land of serene beauty which is like a table top, the colony has lived up to the name as the residents of different communities live in peace and harmony. There is happiness and contentment in the faces of these residents, many of whom consider Eric Correa as a representative of god. It can be recalled that during the inauguration ceremony of Souharda Nagar nearly 300 people from nearby areas had come just to see him.
Residents of the colony Jayanthi and her husband Nagesh Rao, consider Eric as their savior and are indebted to him for giving them a roof to call their own. “I was in big doldrums as I was living in a joint family and did not have a house of my own. The very thought spoilt my health. Now, I have a house to call it my own. Eric came like a Laxmi to my house to invite me for the function and within 5 days I had a dream house”, says Nagesh with folded hands thanking Eric. Nagesh lives with his wife, daughter and son-in-law who work as a driver in MRPL.
Vinodhara Poojary, who works as a cook in a hotel in Moodbidri thanks his stars for coming to the colony as a resident. Vinodhara who worked in Bangalore for sometime as a cook came back to Moodbidri unable to sustain his family of 4. When someone told him about the project he applied and got the house. “For me and for my family it is like a rebirth. Now I have a house to call as my own and I don't think I am poor. I am a happy man because I don't think I would have been able to buy land and construct a house on my own from my own savings even if I had worked for all my life”, he says . Vidyadara also points out that the colony has a peaceful atmosphere and the residents live in harmony and such an atmosphere acts like an incentive for them to come home as soon as they finish their work. The residents together celebrate the three festivals of Deepavali, Christmas and Ramzaan .
Another resident Ashique is also thankful to Eric for giving a new lease of life to his family. Ashique lives here with his wife Ramlath and two children and works for a gas agency says his sister had given him information about the project and he had just applied. Ashique states “It is by providence that I have been allotted this house in the colony. Whatever I earned use to go to the maintenance of my family and I could not even dream of building my own house. Getting this house is like a godsend gift and I cannot explain in words my gratitude”.
Joseph Felix D Souza is another beneficiary who says he leads a peaceful and tension-free life after coming to the colony. Joseph who used to live in Kallabettu in Belthangady was staying in a rented house was unable to pay the house rent which was always on the rise. “Now my family is happy and I have no fear about future of my children. We live here without fear and the colony gives us a sense of security”, he avers.
Eric Correa's noble gesture is a true example clearly demonstrating that the efforts of one man can make vital difference to the lives of so many people. When the beneficiaries exhibits their happiness there is joy in Eric's face, the joy that money cannot buy, the joy of giving back to the society.
Those who wish to donate towards this noble cause in whatever way they wish to, the bank account details are as follows:
A/c No. 0652101034499
Canara Bank, Kottara, Mangalore - 575 002.
IFSC CODE: CNRB0000652
Official receipts will be issued after 80-G concession from income-tax department is obtained.