Building a Home, Rebuilding a Life

Losing her land, her livelihood and her home to the fury of the Uttarakhand floods in 2013, Parvati Devi didn’t have a roof over her head; Reliance Foundation helped her build a sturdy shelter. Three years later, she still calls it her home.

Building a Home, Rebuilding a Life
  • The onset of monsoon 2013, relentless rains and rising floodwaters wreaked havoc in Uttarakhand, unleashing complete chaos in the mountain state. Every family living in Lwara village – perched on the Himalayan foothills in Rudraprayag district – had suffered heavy losses. Property had been damaged beyond repair, livelihoods destroyed, and loved ones debilitated. Stranded and exposed to the elements, the villagers looked on helplessly.
  • Parvati Devi was one of the villagers stranded in Lwara. In a matter of hours, she had witnessed the sum total of her life and livelihood being swept away. Half of her 1,320-square-metre plot of land had been washed away in the floods. Her shop in Kedarnath valley, which was her only source of income, had been destroyed in the heavy rains. Her house, which had been in dire need of repairs even before the floods, developed deep cracks in a landslide caused by the deluge, forcing her to abandon it.
  • Parvati Devi was already juggling with many challenges – her husband, who was physically handicapped since 2009, had been out of the workforce for years, and Parvati Devi alone had to provide for her family of four. Her two children looked to her for every meal. Left without food, clothing, or a roof over her head, Parvati Devi sank deeper and deeper into despair.
  • But in less than a week help was on its way. The Reliance Foundation (RF) Disaster Relief team had already reached Rudraprayag, and was working at a hectic pace to reach affected communities in the region. Reaching Lwara village to distribute flood kits as part of their immediate flood relief efforts, they met Parvati Devi. Moved by her plight, the team decided that she needed more than a flood kit – she needed a home.
  • They swung into action, involving her relatives in the project, who contributed a small plot of land for the new shelter. The RF team then got in touch with experts at the National Centre for Peoples’ Action in Disaster Preparedness (NCPDP), Ahmedabad, who had designed an ingenious disaster shelter.
  • The shelter that took 3 days to build, was spacious enough to accommodate a family, sturdy enough to withstand earthquakes, and resistant to extremely low temperatures – ideal for a family of four fighting the elements in cold, hilly Uttarakhand. Similar shelters were built by Reliance Foundation for more than 75 families in the region.
  • The new shelter gave Parvati Devi a new lease on life, providing her a safe space in which she could focus on rebuilding all that she had lost. Parvati Devi says, “My home was broken and damaged. Reliance Foundation helped me build a shelter. With a secure roof protecting us, I could take care of my family.”
  • Three years have passed since the floods ravaged her village, and the shelter still stands strong against the elements. It has gone on to become a home to Parvati Devi and her family – a home where she and her children mourned her husband’s death in 2014, where they celebrated her daughter’s wedding recently, and where her son completed his studies before bagging a factory job in Haridwar.
  • Appreciating the role the shelter played in rebuilding her life, Parvati Devi says: I had lost all hope after the Kedarnath floods washed away our shop, our only source of regular income. The land that I could cultivate was lost in a landslide. If Reliance Foundation had not built us this home, I don’t know if we would have been alive today. This is not just our house – it’s our life.”