Sunday, January 29, 2012


UCAN REPORT: Businessman builds homes for poor families to break down religious barriers
Francis Rodrigues, Mangalore
January 27, 2012
Catholic Church News Image of Catholic creates multi-faith community
A scene in the ‘Sauharda Village’
A Catholic businessman marked India’s Republic Day yesterday by establishing a small community in a Karnataka state village for poor people from different religions.
“Poverty has no caste or creed barriers. Similarly, values of caring and sharing have no religious borders,” said Eric Correa, founder of Sauharda Nagara (village of harmony), a hamlet comprising 34 homes, in Muragoli, near Mangalore.
Correa yesterday handed over house keys to 11 Hindu, 11 Catholic, nine Muslim and three Protestant families during a special ceremony.
He said the families were chosen through a lucky draw involving nearly 650 applicants.
Bishop Aloysius Paul D’Souza of Mangalore, who blessed the houses, hailed Correa’s gesture as a “model message” to those trying to divide people along religious lines.
The prelate said peace and harmony used to prevail in Karnataka until about 10 years ago. “But in recent years the state has become a land of mutual hatred and attacks.”
Karnataka, in the south of the country, has seen several attacks on Christians by right-wing Hindu groups during the past few years.
Correa said he decided to establish the community after becoming frustrated with the tension existing among people on account of religion.
“If poor families could come together they would be better disposed to share and care for each other,” he explained.
Correa, who runs an electrical generator business, has spent 30 million rupees on the project.
He said he plans to build 64 houses in another village soon.
He said he had experienced “an internal call of conscience” to help the homeless.
Rohidas Kulal, a Hindu beneficiary, expressed happiness that he can now live under his own roof. He said he had been living in a rented room with his wife and two children.
Ashiq Mohammad, a Muslim resident, said religious divisions have made people forget how to relate to other others.
He said the hamlet will help its residents live in harmony.
“When one is sick or meets with an accident no one will look at their religion,” he added.

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