This Chennai-based autorickshaw driver rescues and finds shelter for homeless people
There might not be many people willing to go the extra mile to help a homeless person on the street, but Chennai resident D Arul Raj rescues at least one homeless person every day.
Arul, an autorickshaw driver by profession, spends about four hours each in the morning and evening transporting passengers. The rest of his day is dedicated to finding and helping homeless people.
In 2017, the 34-year-old founded the Karunai Ullangal Trust, which has helped more than 320 homeless people. Of these, he has been able to reunite 120 people with their families.
Speaking to the New Indian Express, Arul said,
“I have a wife and two children. Till 2015, I had no intention of doing social service. During the floods in the same year, my wife received an emergency call from one of her friends at Saidapet. He told her they were starving and unable to get out of the locality. I took food to them, only to realise hundreds needed help.”
Arul ventured into social service in 2015 after he was asked to leave his bank job, in the collection department, due to punctuality issues. He was jobless for six months, and devoted his time to clean the city and provide relief after the Chennai floods, Storypick reported.
At the same time, Arul joined a Facebook Page and a WhatsApp group, Makkal Ku Udhavalam, which was specially created for providing relief during the floods. Requests kept pouring in from different parts of the city and Arul did his bit to help.
At the end of 2016, Arul received a request from an old homeless woman to get her into a shelter home. Arul said,
“I did not even know what a shelter home was until then. Earlier too, during the flood, a woman had asked me the same, but I could not help her. But this request made me take the step to rescue the homeless, and it changed my life forever.”
That was just the beginning. In January 2017, he was informed that a homeless person was lying on the road, and would die if not rescued on time. Wasting no time, Arul enrolled the man in a private shelter home at Porur at 1.30 am. Arun said he felt a sense of satisfaction, and soon started finding homeless people and enrolling them into shelters.
Arul earns nearly Rs 500 daily, which pays for his fuel. He said,
“Each month, we were doing about 10 rescues. I did not want to depend on it forever. So, I bought an autorickshaw in 2017. A dear friend of mine helped me with Rs 90,000 for the vehicle, and I am paying the rest of the amount through instalments every month.”
In September 2019, Karunai Ullangal Trust launched its mobile application on Google Play Store. Through the app, one can upload pictures of homeless people, following which, the organisation assigns volunteers. One can even report or help a person by calling on 9841776685.
(Edited by Suman Singh)