Ravindra Valunj experiences a swirl of emotions as he talks about his new home. There is a sense of gratitude towards everyone who helped him realise his dream; a sense of fulfilment that he now has a decent home; a quiet sense of pride that he’s been able to build a home for his family that loves and supports each other. And lastly, a sense of humility and devotion to a higher power.
“I was so happy that I ate one extra bhakari when we moved into the new home,” he says with a smile. Ravindra has been living in Khed since his birth and has a small plot of farmland on which he cultivates rice. He also does daily wage labour work to sustain his family.
The entire roof of their old home was destroyed due to Cyclone Tauktae that hit the western region of India in May 2021. “We did not have the means to repair the roof. We did makeshift arrangements and somehow got by. One of our cows also died during that storm,” he says while talking about the disaster.
Habitat India is helping low-income families in Khed block located in Pune district in Maharashtra build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter. As part of our initiative, we built 12 homes with the support from CP Kelco in the village of Awhat in Khed. Ravindra is one of the homeowners who built his home in partnership with Habitat India.
“It took three months to build the new home. I worked along with other workers. I could not help but take part in the construction process. After all, it was my home that I was building”, says Ravindra with excitement. He does not forget to mention how happy he is about the building material, windows, doors and the quality of construction.
Before moving into the new home Ravindra performed a puja. He points out to some of his new belongings such as furniture, TV and a clock that he received as gifts at the house-warming puja. Ravindra says that it is a mark of goodwill. “Whenever there is a puja anywhere, I always make it a point to give something as per our means. Even if it costs as little as Rs. 25,” he further adds.
The new home is now equipped with a toilet and a bath facility. Ravindra used some of the remaining bricks and construction material to build a small bench in the courtyard for people to gather and sit.
His younger daughter has just cleared her class 12 exams. “My daughter tells me that she wants to be independent, pursue higher education, seek job opportunities and take care of her wedding expenses by herself. I am hopeful that this home becomes the foundation of a better future for our family”, says Ravindra beaming with pride.