During a meal outreach in Gloria Oriental Mindoro, Maitreyi Karanth came across a young mother, Marilyn, who had suffered a stroke. Her husband, a labourer, had no work because of the COVID lockdown. The impoverished couple and their 10-year-old son lived in a hut without a toilet. Being moved with compassion, Maitreyi asked the mother what she would like. With slurred speech, the mother replied, “please give us food.” At that moment, Maitreyi felt compelled that the family deserved to live with dignity.
One morning, Maitreyi woke up and told her team to put together a crew of labourers to immediately build a home for the family. The mother, Marilyn, sat and watched her dream home under construction, refusing to lie down as though she might awake from a dream. On the fourth day of the construction, Maitreyi’s team gave her a haircut, and Marilyn asked to take a nap. The mother never woke up.
Maitreyi cried for days. Her team, moved to provide the deceased woman with the dignity she deserved in life, gave her a beautiful funeral. The crew completed her dream house and called it Marilyn. This began their journey to establish a foundation to build homes for the poor.
The Koma Karanth Foundation, named after Maitreyi’s father, began by providing each crew labourer with a house, because they lived in terrible conditions themselves. Some labourers didn’t have their own land, so Maitreyi petitioned the government for land under the minority quotas.
The foundation has currently built 25 homes with more in the plans. The foundation also established the KOMA Tutoring School and the KOMA old age community centre. They now provide free lunch and transport for the tribal children, along with solar streetlights for the village. Their most celebrated accomplishment is a water project that has brought fresh water to 26 tribal families living on the mountain. The Koma Karanth Foundation installed a pump in a nearby river, which now pipes into an enormous tank in the mountain to supply the community with fresh drinking water!
The foundation expanded their efforts by establishing businesses for women. Some included KOMA Ice Candy, KOMA Sari Sari Store, and KOMA Cakes and Tea. The foundation also employs women for other jobs, such as taking care of the old age community centre, teacher assisting at the school, and cooking free lunches for the children.
The Koma Karanth Foundation has further plans to establish community housing in Gloria Oriental Mindoro to support families, especially to help children and single mothers. Their mission is to build loving and sharing communities with role models for the future generations. To learn more about the foundation and how to get involved, visit Komakaranthfoundation.org
Maitreyi Karanth is an actress, stand-up comedian, and philanthropist. Karanth is the only woman in Hong Kong to perform in a one woman comedy show and has sold out every show since. Her TEDx talk Age is not just a number, It's a journey has garnered more than 200,000 views. In 2019, she founded a charity named after her father, KOMA KARANTH FOUNDATION, Having the primary goal to create loving and caring communities, the foundation worked tirelessly throughout the covid pandemic to provide food, free homes and education in Philippines.