Shri Hibi Eden, Member of Parliament – Elect,
Adv. A.V. Vamanakumar, Lions District Governor,
Shri V.P. Nandakumar, Chairman, Manappuram Foundation,
Shri K. Suresh, Chairperson, Lions Multiple Council,
Shri Nishad M.A., Director, Lulu Group,
Shri Rajesh Mathew, Project Coordinator,
Shri C.G. Shreekumar, District Cabinet Secretary, Lions Club,
Sahodaree Sahodaranmare,
Ellavarkkum Ente Namaskaram.
It gives me great joy to address this function, which has been convened by the International Association of Lions Clubs to hand over Sneha Bhavanams to 70 families. I am informed that this is the biggest ever service project undertaken by this Lions district. 
Let me at the outset, compliment the members of the International Association of Lions Clubs, District 318 C for responding to the housing needs of 120 families most of which were badly affected by the floods of last year. By carrying out this project at a cost of Rs.Six crore, the International District 318 C has demonstrated its commitment to society in the true spirit of service displayed by Lions Clubs the world over. 
As the world's largest community service organisation spread over 200 countries, the members of the Lions Club International have been extending their resources for social welfare, in the manner suggested by the founder Melvin Jones, over a century ago.  Today, a large network of dedicated clubs work in harmony to foster a spirit of understanding among all people, with the motto 'We Serve'.   Their tradition of voluntary service has won the global recognition. 
The story of how Lions Clubs responded to the call of the famous American author and activist Helen Keller to serve the visually challenged and hearing impaired, is well known. The Lions Clubs' mission of 'Sight First' is one of the best known sight-preservation efforts conducted so far.  The   work done by Lions Clubs in improving the environment, building homes and providing disaster relief also deserves special mention. In fact, today's function is a testimony to the importance given by Lions Club to housing, which is one of the basic human needs. 
As we all know, the right to housing figures in many constitutions and even in the International Declaration of Human Rights. Yet, lack of proper Housing is still one of the most glaring issues the world over.  In India, as per the 2011 Census, there were over 1.75 million homeless people.  An estimate by U.N- Habitat says that India is home to more than 63 per cent of slum-dwellers in South Asia. We have been trying our level best through Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana [PMAY] and similar programmes to make the dream of ‘housing for all’ a reality.
In fact, Kerala’s housing sector had stood above the national average, with over 49 percent of houses having concrete roofs and 97 percent having toilets. This status could have gained much improvement through the Livelihood, Inclusion and Financial Empowerment [LIFE] programme, which was carried out with aid from Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana [PMAY]. But, all of a sudden, our efforts were cruelly hindered by last year's unprecedented floods. The ruthless floods did not spare even a single sector, be it plantation, tourism, power or infrastructure.  It affected over 55 lakh people in 775 villages throughout Kerala, killing nearly 500 people, fully damaging over 12,400 houses and partially destroying nearly 1.3 lakh dwellings.
In such a circumstance, the only way before us was to begin a rebuilding exercise, starting with houses for those who were displaced and dispossessed by the floods.  The government certainly needs the support of various agencies to meet such a target.  I am happy that Lions Club could volunteer to build 120 houses for the flood affected people and that the 70 houses have already been constructed with funds raised by the members. It is commendable that the beneficiaries have been chosen from among the most deserving people in the districts of Ernakulam, Idukki and Alapuzha, where the floods had caused maximum damage. I hope Lions Clubs International Foundation would soon accord financial sanction to build the rest of the houses.
I am informed that as on the 10th of May, the State Government has built 2739 houses for the flood affected. The government has been giving Rs.Six lakh per beneficiary for the purchase of land and Rs.4 lakh for construction. The work of building the rest of the houses for those affected by the flood, is progressing with support from various agencies.
In this context, the achievement of the Lions Club International District 318 C in building 70 out of the proposed 120 houses is certainly an inspiration and a model to other agencies involved in the rebuilding of Kerala. After all, a home is not just a building. When you donate a house, you are actually contributing to a family, the fundamental unit of human relationship. A safe home raises a family's confidence and creativity, thereby ensuring enterprise and the growth of its members. A clean home also provides its inhabitants an environment for contributing to the wellbeing of our society.
Some of you may recall the Padana muri project of the government, in which a study room is setup in houses of students from tribal and marginalized areas. This facility actually opens new avenues to improve a student's education and creativity. In fact, the confidence bestowed on an individual by such a facility is beyond words. Lions Clubs can also consider such assistance to the deserving children in their area.
I am certain that the younger members of the Lions Clubs would also be inspired to set such goals when they assume leadership. Lions clubs should empower the families of each young member to respond to the needs and conditions of people around them. As members, your efforts should be directed towards identifying people who deserve help and extending to them all possible assistance.
I share the joy of each family which has received keys to the Sneha Bhavanams and hope that an atmosphere of true love – Sneham- will always light up their homes.
I compliment the members of Lion Clubs International District 318 C for conducting this function in a befitting manner.
Ellavarkkum Ente Aashamsakal
Jai Hind.