January 27, 2012
Pics: Brijesh Garody
This is the story of a young and humble entrepreneur, who started his career as 'office boy' and climbed the ladder of success with sheer hard work, dedication, and fearless pursuit. And now, he has realised his dream of building and donating 34 houses for the poor, single handedly.
Eric Correa has now become a role model for all those who have the will to help others and make a difference in society. The only intention of glorifying this exclusive news is to send message to thousands of daijiworld readers to take an initiative in their own way to help others and make this world a beautiful place without any barriers of community, religion, langauge, caste or creed. Though Eric Correa himself does not like his deeds to be highlighted in media, he believes that his next venture of building 64 more houses for the poor at Kodyadka, Moodbidri could do with more helping hands.
It was a Republic Day gift for 34 beneficiaries of “Souharda Nagar” as they were handed over the keys of the houses built and donated to them by Eric Correa. Souharda Nagar is the name given to the colony that houses these 34 residents of the colony located at Padumarnadu Village, Moodbidri. The keys were handed over to the beneficiaries by NRI businessman Ronald Colaco in a glittering inaugural ceremony of “Souharda Nagar”, held in the presence of many dignitaries. Needless to say it was the perfect gift the beneficiaries could ask for on India’s Republic Day as it meant realizing the long drawn dream of having a roof over their head for these beneficiaries who were selected taking into consideration the overall condition of their family. Of the 34 beneficiaries in the new colony 12 each are Hindus and Catholics and 10 Muslim families.
The new colony was blessed by Rev Dr Aloysius Paul D Souza, Bishop of Mangalore Diocese. Rohan Monteiro Managing Director of Property Infra Tech India Pvt Ltd., publicly launched the Souharda Foundation through which this project is implemented. Fr Basil Vas, Parish Priest of Alangar blessed the foundation stone of the second project of Souharda Foundation coming up at Kodyadka. Moodbidri MLA Abhaychandra Jain laid the foundation stone for the same. The Foundation will come out with 64 houses in this second project at Kodyadka. A third project with 94 houses from this foundation is also in the offing.
Eric Correa addressing the gathering
Speaking on the occasion Ronald Colaco who also inaugurated “Souharda Nagar” pointed out that by this noble deed Eric Correa has overtaken everyone in charity. Reiterating the importance of giving back to the society from which they have benefitted from, he said “Eric had written to me saying he was inspired by my advice during one of my speeches that it is our responsibility to pay back to the society and that is how he decided to take this little step of providing roof over the head of poor people. I am touched by this gesture of Eric and wanted to be a part of this important event”.
Further he added that it was his father who had primarily inspired him to donate followed by Dirubai Ambani and Infosys founder Narayana Murthy as these people provided career and employment to thousands of people and they have been his role models. “Today Eric Correa has surpassed them all as richness is not merely amassing more wealth for self. If a person who has Rs. 50,000 donates Rs. 5,000/- his contribution is much greater than a person having 50 lakhs and donating Rs. 50,000/-. On that count Eric has overtaken me because his contribution comes to almost Rs. 3 crores in this Souharda Nagar alone”.
Ronald Colaco opined that Eric Correa has done this from the savings he has acquired through his generator business. “What can be a greater donation than contributing more than 75% of the savings as is done by Eric? I feel I am a small donor as compared to you and I am inspired by your noble act”. He also said that he had taken a pledge in 1983 to donate 1% of his savings to the poor and needy and another 1% for social causes. Following that promise he said he cannot be happy if he does not stand by his own promise. He also called upon people to make such a promise and pay back to the society in whatever little way the can. Colaco also announced that he would donate Rs. 20 lakhs for the 2nd project of Eric Correa being planned at Kodyadka, about 4 kms from Souharda Nagar.
Rev Dr Aloysius Paul D Souza pointed out that Eric Correa has set a good example for communal harmony by providing houses to the needy without discrimination on grounds of race, language or religion. He called upon the residents of the colony to live up to the name of the colony by maintaining peace and harmony in and set an example for others to follow. “These 34 families should be a model for others by living in peace and amity. Sowharda Nagar should provide an example for other people of Dakshina Kannada district by demonstrating that they can co-exist in peace and friendship”, he declared.
Quoting bible where god says “the one who helps others helps me”, the Bishop pointed out “amassing wealth is not richness. But those who share the wealth with others are the real rich people in the eyes of god”. He went on to add “if we keep a small step we can change the entire society. Mother Teresa on receiving the Nobel Prize for Peace had said I am doing what Jesus Christ had said - you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Every religion preaches this. But how many of us follow this in our lives”?
Eric Correa, the brain behind the entire project whose generosity resulted in 34 people getting homes of their own spoke on the occasion describing it as “an unforgettable event of his life”. He said he could not have made his dream a reality but for the help of his mentor and friends. He thanked Asif and Mohammed Sharif from whom he bought the land, for their cooperation. Recalling that Dakshina Kannada people have always lived in peace and friendship he called upon the residents of the new colony to prosper by living in harmony. He also thanked his mentor and guide writer J L D Souza for his constant support and for helping him to realize his dream.
Builder Rohan Monteiro stated that Souharda Nagar the dream project of Eric Correa demonstrates his love for the poor and the needy. In today’s standards it is a project of 3 crores, which is not a small amount to donate. Appreciating the work that has gone in making the colony he said “this could not have been done without god’s help. I pray there should not be any person without a roof over his head”. He also declared that building houses of this nature is like giving loan to god or like building temple to god. God does not keep the loan given to him and I am sure Eric will get back more than what he spent”.
Rohan Monteiro also announced a donation of Rs. 20 lakhs to the second project of Souharda Foundation coming up at Kodyadka.
Moodbidri MLA Abhayachandra Jain opined that life will be useless unless people help the poor and those who are in need. “Eric has done something that touches the heart and the mind. Souharda Nagar will be an example and an inspiration to the entire country that we in India have unity in diversity. He also promised all possible help for the colony for its total development.
Konkani writer J L D Souza, who Eric reveres as his mentor and guide congratulated his protégé for his good deed saying “Eric has done what he is expected to do without anticipating anything in return”. He said he had suggested the name Souharda Nagar for the colony and also explained the modus operandi used to zero in on the 34 beneficiaries of the project from the 600 odd applications they received. He also said the beneficiaries were allotted the number they selected through the lot system to avoid room for any grievances. J L D Souza was felicitated on the occasion by Ronald Colaco and Fr J B Saldanha read the citation in his honor.
In a return gesture of benevolence and gratitude, the new residents of Souharda Colony felicitated their benefactor Eric Correa for his kind gesture in helping them find a roof over their head. Glen D Souza, Project Manager of Souharda Nagar was also felicitated on the occasion.
Guest of Honour Roy Castelino stated that Eric Correa has done a miracle in Souharda Nagar and a great service for the needy. He promised his cooperation and also support for the second project of Souharda Foundation.
Abdul Rauf Puthige, who was also the guest of honour said, in Eric Correa he has found another role model who has inspired him to do whatever little he can for the betterment of society.
NRI businessman Frank Fernandes who had come specifically for the event having inspired by Eric Correa’s act described righteousness as the greatest virtue and it is righteousness which makes humans what they are and not the other way round. He also announced a donation of Rs. 5 lakhs for the second project of Souharda Foundation.
Mohammed Aslam, President Padumarnad Grama Panchayat also spoke on the occasion. Fr Victor Machado Parish Priest of Bejai and Fr Basil Vas, Parish Priest Alangar were also on dais.
Ronald Colaco also felicitated Mary Lobo, one of the recipients of the house at Souharda Nagar, for her largesse of donating Rs. one lakh to Souharda Foundation and thus became its first donor.
Earlier, Bishop Rev Aloysius Paul D Souza blessed the new colony and the formal function began with prayer song. Titus Noronha compered the programme.
Souharda Nagar is located in an area of 2.25 acres of pristine and picturesque surroundings of Muragoli, in Padumarnadu Village. The 655 sq ft 34 houses built here stand testimony to what a single person could achieve if he decides to give back to the society from which he has taken.
Eric Correa who has come up in a hard way starting his career as an office boy slowly graduating to have his own business has set an inspiring example for others to emulate. A little inspiration he received by taking a cue from others and incidents of his own life prompted him to do something to help those in need of homes. While people usually are able to feed and clothe themselves, having a home of their own is a dream for many and Eric decided to build houses for these people and help realize their dreams. The result was Souharda Nagar.
Eric has now founded the Souharda Foundation through which he plans to continue the good work he has begun at Souharda Nagar. He is the Managing Trustee of the foundation with friends Louis Pinto, Titus Noronha, John L Cascia and Fr J B Saldanha as its trustees.
Eric has given us the foretaste of what it means to donate and find true happiness.
For the benefit of those who wish to contribute towards the cause, the bank account details are as follows:
A/c No. 0652101034499
Valencia, Mangalore - 575 002.
IFSC CODE: CNRB0000652
Official receipts will be issued after 80-G concession from income-tax department is obtained.