The Priest Who Has Built Over a 100 Cabin Homes for Kerala Flood Victims & Homeless

by - April 13, 2021


The 2018 floods that devastated the South Indian state of Kerala was the worst in nearly a century. Over a million people were eventually evacuated with nearly 500 dead and 140 missing. More than 12 lakh people ended up in over 3200 relief camps, with thousands of homes destroyed. Rehabilitation work for the displaced that began during the floods continue to this day.

One such individual who has dedicated the last few years to helping those who lost their homes is Father Jijo Kurian.

man standing behind field

Based in Idukki and living in a monastery, the priest initially aimed to help those within his own district, raising money and building low cost, cabin houses for the affected. Later, as more kind-hearted souls began to offer finances, Jijo extended his services to other districts.

Jijo Kurian would look for the worst affected – families with no support, elderly people, those with disabilities and ailments – and visit each family personally to verify their conditions. 

With the money he received from beneficiaries, Father Jijo Kurian would then construct houses in Kerala that were around 300 square feet, consisting of 1-2 bedrooms, a kitchen, hall, bathroom and verandah. 


Amazingly, he has not done any fundraising programme till date. Instead, when people offer to help, he directly connects the sponsor to the beneficiary, cutting out the middle-man. 
Over the years, he has formed teams of social workers to oversee construction, locally sourcing masons and workers for each house.

cabin homes in Kerala
Some of the cabin homes built by Father Jijo Kurian and his team for the displaced following the 2018 Kerala floods. You can see more such cabin homes constructed by the team below.


I got to talking with Father Jijo Kurian.


Can you tell us how it all began? 


During the 2018 Kerala floods, while helping with relief work, I came across a woman living drenched under a makeshift shed with a lone asbestos sheet as a roof. Seeing her struggling to cook and sleep all within that tiny space, I asked my friend if we could create a house for her under Rs 1 lakh. 

He told me he would sponsor it if I could create it and that got me motivated. In the end, that house (with a single room, open kitchen, sit-out space and toilet) cost around Rs 1.5 lakhs ($2000) and inspired me on my journey to construct similar houses for others. 

cabin homes in Kerala



How many houses have you and your team helped build over the years? 


Till date, we have created around 110 houses in less than 3 years and have enough sponsorships from beneficiaries for another 2 months of work.

cabin homes in Kerala



Could you tell us some of the most satisfying moments you have encountered in the last few years? 


Giving these people who lost their houses a new home to live in again is one of the best moments for me. 

Not just me, but for these beneficiaries who have helped so many. I am grateful to them – how can these families be so large-hearted to sponsor an entire house for strangers, I often wonder?

cabin homes in Kerala



Unlike what many imagine, there is no function to hand over the keys to these families; I never get to see that moment. I move on once the plan for the house set in motion because there are so many more who need help. 

Often, the worker completing the last day’s work hands over the keys to the family and we leave, allowing them to start their lives again as soon as possible.


cabin homes in Kerala

How can we help? 


With time, the requirements of families for these cabin houses has changed. Based on these needs (including separate bedrooms for large families) as well as price hikes for materials during these COVID times, the cost of creating these cabin houses has increased to around Rs 3.5 lakhs or more, at times. So yes, we definitely need sponsors. Without them, our work comes to an end.

If there are those who can find it in your hearts to help make a cabin house for these men, women and children who once had houses just like you and I, then do get in touch with me. 

In whichever district we go, we do need volunteer help from kind-hearted locals for constructing these cabin houses. 

If you have old tiles which you are discarding, we would love it if you could donate it to us. A cabin home usually needs 1500 tiles for roofing. We can continue creating these cabin homes only as long as there are large hearted souls who care for the displaced.

Finally, you could help us identify those who need help in your local area too.


cabin homes in Kerala


Author's note:


Since 2017, every year, I take up the #BlogchatterA2Z challenge and focus on showcasing lovely real-life heroes from around the worldThe aim is to remind you that there is still plenty of good human beings all around you... to inspire you to smile once more.

Want more stories of compassion? 

I have Hundreds of 'Heroes of Kindness' to brighten your day here. Earlier editions can be viewed from the links below:

2017 edition (Articles - 40, Heroes - 67)
2018 edition (Articles - 34, Heroes - 52)
2019 edition (Articles - 31, Heroes - 42)
2020 edition (Articles - 30, Heroes - 64)


The 2020 Edition is also available as a book on Kindle too, if you want it that wayyy! (IndiaUS)




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18 comments

  1. The worst part after any calamity is to settle the displaced ones and keep them safe. Father Jiju's work is exemplary. Those cabins look so comfy to live in.

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  2. This is such an amazing initiative by Father Jiju! May his tribe increase - God knows we need more people like him!
    Modern Gypsy - https://moderngypsy.in

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  3. We do need more people like father. Giving destitutes home to live is such a noble gesture. A very moving and heartwarming story
    Deepika Sharma

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  4. People like Father Jijo Kurian are doing the job of the government. How selfless and during floods so many people are displaced.Salute to such a soul

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  5. Truly inspired by father, shouldnt all of us do our bit too. thought-provoking!

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  6. Yes Kerala flood has an devastating effect on thousands of people's life. indeed father jijo has done an inspiring job to serve those people. interview with him was an inspiring read.

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  7. People like him do exist on earth!! What a self-less service!! He doesn't even have time to reveal his identity to the person receiving help, because he has "much more to do". Kudos!!

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  8. This is so inspiring and he is none other than a God for all those needy people!!

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  9. What an inspiration father jijo is... And what he is doing is not easy. I just pray God to give such selfless more and more power and strength.

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  10. Such noble souls do exist that don't let humanity die.
    Father Jijo Kurian definitelydeserves a bow for selfless service.

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  11. Such an inspiration. Rather than waiting for gov. To help standing for community in best of our abilities. Amazing human being.

    ' Ujjwal Mishra Mywordsmywisdom.com

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  12. Waow! I am glad to read an inspiring story about the city Kerela, India. I was damn a difficult time. Father Jijo Kurian has done the bestest work and has showed the act of kindness when people were in pain.

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  13. World need more real heroes like Father Jijo Kurian who come forward to save many lives in Kerala flood by providing cabins.
    Archana
    archusblog

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  14. Giving roof to the homeless is indeed a great deed. Glad to k is about the priest

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  15. A very inspiring story, Father Kurien are helping the people get back on their feet!!

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  16. Wow this is another inspiring post .indeed father jijo has done an inspiring job to serve those people.

    Jyoti

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  17. God's person to the rescue. God bless

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  18. Losing a home is a terrible thing ! Thank God for Father Jijo who helped the homeless with these beautiful houses. He is truly a Hero.

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Let me know what you think.