The Right to a dwelling is included in the Universeral Declaration of Human Rights and although many Governments watch their housing policy, the truth is that the number of people still homeless is alarming. 1600 million inhabitants of our world live in below-standard dwellings and 900 million in unauthorized setlements or camps, both in the poorer countries and in the rich ones too.
Although the Indian Government is carrying out the “Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana” Plan which gives the poorest families money to build a small house, a series of documents is needed for access to the Plan and many people do not possess such documents as, for example, the deeds to the land. Among the Dalit community many built their humble shacks from mud and straw on the land the landowner gave their grandparents or great-grandparents, but with no documents to prove ownership. Not having them of course excludes them from the Government programme of rights to housing. An example of this is seen in Munna´s family.
Munna is a pupil in Class V of the Akshay School. He has 2 sisters Barkha and Prabha who also study at our school. Then there are another 2 brothers, for a total family of 8 members. They lived in a mud and straw hut. In May there was a terrible storm in Bodhgaya which tore up trees and a very large branch from one of them fell on the fragile roof of Munna´s house, destroying it completely and leaving them with no roof and no home either.
Faced with this desperate situation, AKSHY ASSOCIATION decided to help them by contacting Munna´s sponsor Plinio Coll whose offer was not to reconstruct the old shack but to build a brick and mortar house for them which would resist all types of weather and would be his home when he grows up. Prabha´s sponsors, Yolanda and Axel, also gave a donation to help with the expense.
For Munna´s parents the idea of a house made from bricks and mortar was a dream they never thought could come true since they are labourers who only earn enough to subsist from day to day. The happiness seen in their faces is a reflection of how important this house is to them.
The house is not yet finished but today the roof was put on – an important moment in the building of a house in India; it is celebrated by offering sweets to all the neighbours.
We look forward to completing the house so that Munna and his family can have a decent home to live in, protected from storms or any other type of bad weather…….. a place where Munna in the future will be able to form his own family.
We are immensely grateful to Plinio Coll for his generosity and to the others who by their donations made it possible for AKSHY ASSOCATION to construct for the first time a brick and mortar building for one of its beneficiaries.
We hope to be able to tell you more when “Munna´s House” is opened; in the meantime we shall keep on with the good work of making it come true.