Nivin Ronny, a 9-year-old boy from Kerala’s Rajapuram village, excitedly broke his clay piggy bank to see the savings he had accumulated over the years. It had Rs 1,117.
However, he did not use the money to purchase a toy but donated it to two strangers on a cycle. The Class 4 student had seen the two cyclists a few days ago in a YouTube video. They are on a mission to collect money to build houses for the poor.
Nivin is one of the many who have been touched by the duo’s initiative. So, he decided to postpone buying a cycle to give an underprivileged family a home.
“We were so surprised and at the same time moved by the boy’s gesture. Our ‘One Rupee’ mission is finally taking off,” says Nijin KG, one of the cyclists.
Nijin and his friend, TR Reneesh from the Wayanad district, are on a unique cycling trip to build homes for five families. The duo is going from village to village asking people to donate Re 1 for their cause.
In the era of social media, where making connections and asking for funds is only a click away, the duo chose to pedal their way to make the requests in person.
“We wanted people to take our mission seriously and thank them in person for the donations. On social media, things could go wrong and there is a lack of trust. We did not want to ask for huge sums of money from affluent families, NGOs or politicians. However, everyone can afford to donate Re 1,” says 32-year-old Reenesh.
With a meagre Re 1 donation, they estimate at least two years to collect a total of Rs 42 lakh to purchase land and construct five homes.
They began their journey on 10 December 2021 and today (11 February) is their 64th day. To date, they have collected Rs 1.68 lakh — the donated sum is deposited in the bank every two days.
So far, they covered a distance of more than 100 km across 400 villages and are currently in Kasargod town.
The ‘One Rupee Mission’
Natives of Ambalavayal village, Reneesh and Nijin became friends because of their common interest of helping the destitute.
Six years ago, Nijin, a school teacher, visited a mobile shop to repair his phone where he met Reneesh, a former salesperson.
The duo got to talking and realised they wanted to work for a social cause but their modest earnings and family responsibilities restricted their purpose. So they engaged in small charities.
After months of planning and discussions, the ‘Mission One Rupee’ was born. But their families were agitated by their decision at first.
It was easier for Nijin to convince his mother and elder brother, who was kind enough to take on all the family’s financial responsibility.
However, for Reenesh, who has a son and a wife, a 2-year-old road trip seemed far-fetched. Thankfully, his parents decided to pitch in after learning of their selfless endeavour.
Nijin’s friend Joshy agreed to sell them 20 cents of land at a discounted price of Rs 7 lakh. An additional Rs 1 lakh will be used to meet the construction expenses.
“We have already purchased land on loan and as we get the money, we are paying back [the loan] in instalments. The construction has already begun with foundational trenches and groundwork. We will only stop [cycling] after the houses are at least half-built,” says Nijin.
“Nijin and Reneesh are doing great work and I am very happy to be part of their mission. Besides land, I am also helping with construction materials,” says Joshy
The Wayanad Tourism Organisation and Wayanad District Cycling Association also helped by providing sleeping bags, tents and cycles.
The duo chose cycle as it was the cheapest mode with little maintenance costs to meet new people. “Cycling has become such a fad in India. If people can do it for their fitness, we can definitely pedal to bring smiles,” he adds.
Pedalling Our Way to a Selfless Deed
On their cycling trip, the duo has had bitter-sweet experiences and met some of the kindest strangers.
“Due to the boards on our cycle that reads ‘Give one rupee, change someone’s life’, people are always intrigued as soon as we enter a village. Some make fun of us and the small amount we ask for, some welcome us wholeheartedly to have food with them and some refuse to even donate Re 1. This has to be the weirdest, heartwarming and adventurous trip of our lives,” says Reneesh.
The best days are when strangers offer them accommodation, food and more than Re 1. But their bad days entail enduring extreme weather conditions, tire punctures and sleeping in the open.
The beneficiaries of this project will be selected from Kerala during their journey, “We
want to meet the families, understand their plight and then select them,” he adds.
To document their journey, the duo runs their YouTube channel, which has more than 1,900 subscribers. You can follow them here.
You can contact them here.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)