Using Their Lifetime Savings, TN Couple Provides Shelter to Over 100 Homeless People
Once upon a time, Jalaja and Janardhanan shared a deep passion for making a difference in their community. They were filled with a strong desire to help those who had no one to turn to, especially the poor and homeless. However, it wasn't until the early 90s that they finally put their plans into action.
Driven by a powerful sense of empathy, the dynamic duo was particularly touched by the plight of the elderly. They couldn't bear the thought of ten beggars knocking on their door day after day, in desperate search of food and shelter. It was then that they decided to open an old age home to provide for these vulnerable individuals.
Despite the financial challenges that lay ahead, Jalaja and Janardhanan were determined to make a difference. With their unwavering commitment and dedication, they knew that they could not only accommodate and care for 10-15 people in their own homes but also provide them with the love and attention they deserved.
A plan to spread kindness
Picture this: Janardhanan and Jalaja, both working full-time jobs, but still driven by their shared passion for serving the elderly. They knew it wouldn't be easy, but they were determined to make it happen. So, they hatched a plan - one of them would take voluntary retirement to focus on their dream.
With Jalaja being eligible for retirement, she took the plunge and bid farewell to her 20-year career in the Customs & Central Excise Department in 1994. Meanwhile, Janardhanan continued his service as Assistant Director Telecom in BSNL until retirement. Their dream was to open an old age home, and with their own home as the base, they began their journey.
Image source: Aishwaryam Trust, website
They converted the first floor of their two-story house into their living quarters and allocated the ground floor for the elderly. With an area of 600 sq ft, they could easily accommodate 8-10 people, with comfortable cots in the hall and bedroom. To make things even better, they had two bathrooms—one in the master bedroom and one outside.
However, they knew that accommodation wasn't enough. They had to take care of the most important aspect - food. Jalaja, who prepared the daily meals for them both, started by cooking for the elderly as well. As the health of the residents improved, they even pitched in to help with the kitchen chores.
Turning dreams into reality
With a lot of hard work, determination, and love, Janardhanan and Jalaja's dream became a reality. They knew the exact amount of time it would take to cook for the residents, and the kitchen was never occupied 24x7. Today, their simple and heartwarming story serves as an inspiration to all of us.
When Jalaja and Janardhanan opened their old age home, they only had space for two people. It took two more years before their home was full, all thanks to word of mouth. People in the area quickly learned about the home, and before they knew it, they had more residents than they could imagine. Janardhanan explains that they were very careful with their finances. They didn't want to admit anyone until they had everything in place.
They made sure to have cots, mattresses, side racks, and lockers for every resident. They didn't want anyone to feel like they were missing out on anything. Their home was full of happy and cared-for residents. And it all started with a simple idea and a lot of hard work.
With the accommodation and sanitation addressed, the most important part remained—the food. The couple led a very simple life with Jalaja preparing the daily meals for them both.
Jalaja had her hands full with managing the household, especially since her husband Janardhanan's work hours were unpredictable. But their unwavering dedication to serving the less fortunate led Janardhanan to make a bold decision - he would retire early and take on the responsibility of running the household alongside his wife.
Image source: Aishwaryam Trust, website
In 2000, they took a step towards their dream of creating a larger retirement home by purchasing a 27-cent plot in Joseph Nagar near Vilachery. This plot would later be donated to the Aishwaryam Trust in 2016, becoming a symbol of their selflessness and generosity. What's truly remarkable is that Jalaja and Janardhanan achieved all of this without seeking any outside help or assistance.
They managed to provide food, shelter, and other necessities to the needy solely through their own income and savings. Even though they could have lived a luxurious life with their pension, they chose to lead a simple and frugal lifestyle so that they could continue serving those in need. Their dedication to making a positive impact on the world is truly inspiring.
Image source: Aishwaryam Trust, Facebook
In March 2017, the couple completed the registration formalities and flagged off the construction in June. By the end of the year, the Nethravathi Pain, Palliative Care, and Rehabilitation Centre was launched.
Today, Aishwaryam Trust empowers vulnerable, marginalized communities and provides them with social as well as economic dignity. They believe in collaborating with government programmes for broader reach and impact. They combine institutional, corporate, and individual support to touch the lives at the grassroots level.