“The rains were never as scary as it was that day. We couldn’t see anything outside. We were petrified. And in a very short time the water began to flood. It was so quick that we had no time left to pick any of our things. With our children on our backs, my husband and I had to leave our home. We went to my brothers’ house in the neighboring village. Our house got flooded in front of our eyes. We were numb and totally helpless”, recalls Karppagam Thiyrajan with blurry tearful eyes.
Karppagam and her husband Thiyarajan were one among the several families who were worst hit due to the incessant rains and flooding in Padappai village located near Chennai (Tamil Nadu) in 2015. Karppagam worked as a domestic help at a nearby office and her husband sold porridge on carts on the highway. With an unstable income of not more than INR 4000 a month, Karppagam’s family led a very difficult life. They lived in a house made out of mud walls and roof covered with thatched leaves. The flooring was the earth itself. The environment surrounding the house was not safe either. This became an easy access to snakes and other crawling insects and animals to have an easy access inside their homes. With such unhygienic conditions, her children Divyapriya (9) Monisha (7) and Vishal (5) constantly fell ill. This hampered their education due to constant absence to school. This bothered her a lot always.
After the water level receded, she returned to her village and was devastated to see her house in pieces. There was nothing left except for few utensils and few clothing. They lost all their government identity cards, their children lost all their school stationery, books and uniform. “I promised myself that day that this shouldn’t hamper my children’s’ education. I immediately sent them back to my brother’s house and decided not to bring them here unless I build a sturdy, safe and hygienic house. We made a make shift arrangement with some tarpaulin from the pieces that were left in the house” said Karppagam. With no income and hence no food the days ahead became even the more difficult for them.
“It was very difficult to sleep without my children in the night. My heart ached. But I didn’t want to disturb their education. Habitat came to us and promised to build a new home for us with bricks and a cement floor. It is unbelievable because never did I even dream to own a house of my own. You indeed proved to us that God does hear your prayers some day and visits you in various forms. And for us he sent you.” - Kappagam.