Outgoing president in search of a job

Salini Babu yet to move into her own home despite helping others with housing

Even at the end of her term, Salini Babu, outgoing president of the Kadamakkudy panchayat, has yet to move into a home of her own, though she may have assisted others in the panchayat with their housing woes.

She lives in a rented house in Kothad where several of her home appliances were destroyed in the 2018 floods that had nearly swallowed the Kadamakkudy islands whole, she said. She had received ₹15,000 as flood relief, but some of these appliances were yet to be replaced.

A few months ago, a church group allotted 2.5 cents of land to her in the neighbouring Alangad panchayat, and a private foundation that had been helping rebuild flood-affected homes will construct one for Ms. Babu too. The solution to her problem of having to foot rent every month arrived by chance, she says, while she was trying to secure help to construct a house for another resident in her ward, Kandanad. She hopes to move in by December.

“While I had been conscious of the fact that I did not have a home of my own, it was always pushed aside since there were other problems to attend to,” says Ms. Babu, who lives with her son, a first-year college student. When applications were invited for the LIFE Mission housing scheme, she did not have a ration card then and was not eligible, she said.

She had been apprehensive about standing for the election in 2015, since she had a job as a housekeeping supervisor at PVS Hospital and did not want to give up the salary she had been drawing, she said. She stood for the elections in 2005 and became a ward member, learning the ropes with the help of her husband, a CPI(M) worker, who passed away seven years ago. Bolstered by the work she had done as a ward member, she contested again when the seat was reserved for women in 2015, and went on bag the post of panchayat president.

Free from her duties as panchayat president, and not contesting this time since she is all set to move to the neighbouring panchayat, Ms. Babu is now eager to find another job.

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