Homeless people paint school, their home amid lockdown

Homeless people paint a school, their home amid lockdown

DH Photo

The corporation primary school in Erode’s Veerapampalayam area sports a fresh coat of paint and is cleared of bushes and thorns that were obstructing the view from the road. The old building got a new lease of life, thanks to a group of homeless people – the school has been their home since the nationwide lockdown began on March 25 – who took up the job on themselves.

The inmates did not want to spend their time idle at the school and hence, took up the job of renovation and completed it in about eight days. Eight men held the brush themselves painting the walls, doors, and windows, while more than 50 people took up the broom to clean the premises which look pristine clean today.

As many as 64 homeless people in the textile town of Erode are lodged in the school by an NGO Thaimai Trust, which decided to get the school painted to give a “private school feeling” for its students whenever the institution reopens.

 

The NGO has been providing three-square meals, snacks, and coffee/tea for the inmates since March 25. The inmates agreed to a suggestion by the NGO’s founder P Megala to give back something to the school that gave them a roof above their heads during tough times and painted the building.

“All are homeless people who have been living on platforms in Erode. We decided to shift them to the school due to the Covid-19 lockdown. Though we also pitched in, the inmates did the job with utmost dedication. They also spent hours together to clean the ground, clear bushes and thorns, and remove stones that were lying. The ground looks so clean today,” Megala told DH.

25-year-old Karthikeyan, a casual labourer who took refuge at the school after he was chased out of his accommodation by the house owner, told DH that painting the school gave him utmost satisfaction.

“After a point of time, all of us felt bored. That is when we heard the idea from the NGO that helped us. Though I had never held a brush in my hand, I took up the job of painting. I feel very happy and content, having used my time in doing something constructive,” he said.

33-year-old Megala has been running the NGO along with her friends Bhuvan and Madhu for the past four years and has been involved in relief activities during Cyclone Gaja in 2018. The NGO spent nearly Rs 50,000 on the painting work and the food for all the inmates is prepared at Megala’s home.

With help from a few students, they also drew paintings of personalities like Dr A P J Abdul Kalam – the splendid work by homeless people has also earned the appreciation of Erode Corporation and the district administration with top officials visiting the school.

“The windows and the gates are painted in blue which gives a private school look. We have used bright colours and just hope the students like our renovation work when they come after the lockdown ends,” Megala said.