I was coming back home from watching a night-show a few days ago. It was the middle of the night, and I was on my scooter. I was coming through Kotturpuram, and I was randomly stopped by an old man with a cane outside Cancer Institute on canal bank road.
I was obviously a little startled. It was quite late, and there was nobody else on that road. And this old man said he was blind and needed some help finding the place he stayed at. He said he wanted to drop a garbage bag off in the bin but got lost coz he walked further away and didn't know how to find his way back.
I felt really bad, so I helped him get on my scooter, and we went in search of the place he stayed at. Because he was blind, he couldn't provide any directions properly. He only remembered that he had to take a left somewhere opposite a tank. But there were many tanks on that road, and I wasn't sure which one he referred to. We stopped at a couple of places; he would get down, use his cane and hands to feel up the walls near the street entrance till he eventually identified the right one.
It was difficult to watch him stumble and struggle to find his place, so I offered to assist him all the way to his doorstep. He then began talking to me properly and revealed that nobody generally cares for him or helps him out when he's in need. He said that he doesn't have a place of his own, and he lives under a flight of stairs inside the house of a family that was kind enough to provide a small space for him.
The family tried helping him out by building a small hut inside their premises. They also built a makeshift toilet for him to use outside their house. But the recent rains completely ravaged the hut he was living in, and he had to resort to the tiny shelter under the stairs going to the terrace.
He broke down while telling me all this. He also mentioned that he lost his vision some 30 years ago and how he's now totally dependent on whatever scraps the people around him provide.
I felt a lump in my throat. I gave the man whatever money I had in my wallet and said I'd come back and check in on him the next day. He said he'd love a shirt with a pocket coz the one he was wearing right now was pretty worn out. I returned the next day with a basic kit with supplies to sort him out temporarily. I also spoke to the family whose premises he's currently living in and learned that some form of shelter is his biggest need right now.
The family said that they usually give him a meal or two and make sure he doesn't go to bed hungry. He also gets a meal every now and then from a church nearby.
But a proper place to live in is his biggest concern. The small area under the stairs is quite dirty and infested with insects. And because he has no vision, he's unable to protect himself from insect bites. And when it rains, it gets too cold and unbearable for him.
I spoke to a few friends of mine, and we discussed how we could help him out. We reached out to a few non-profit shelters, even talked to a friend from the Banyan foundation. I went again and suggested the idea of signing himself up at one of these shelters, but he wasn't keen at all. He kept insisting that he'd be totally sorted if he had a small shelter built for him. He said it'd be too difficult to get accustomed to a new environment given his age. There's also a sense of community in the neighborhood, and that makes him feel somewhat secure.
I realized the best way to help him right now is to start a fundraiser and buy a security cabin (and supplies) for him with the proceeds. I spoke to the family, and they agreed to provide space inside their house for the cabin to be installed.
My request from you guys is to donate any little money you can. And even if you can't, please share this around so we can quickly arrange something for something.
If there are other suggestions you have, please DM me. Thanks!