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giving back

People gesture to an Indian coast guard helicopter for relief materials, in Chennai, India. Ideal Hope has also built 10 houses in an area affected by flooding.ANINDITO MUKHERJEE/Reuters

The donors: Shajiraj Nadarajalingam and Sri Nithya Omkarananda

The gift: Creating the Ideal Hope Foundation

The cause: Building houses in Sri Lanka and India

Shajiraj Nadarajalingam arrived in Canada as a teenager, a refugee from Sri Lanka with few prospects. He found his way into the construction business and eventually created Ideal Developments, a Toronto-area home builder.

Mr. Nadarajalingam kept close ties to Sri Lanka and contributed to a host of charities. About a year ago, he decided to do something more ambitious and, together with colleague Sri Nithya Omkarananda, created the Ideal Hope Foundation.

For every Ideal Developments house sold in Toronto, the foundation builds a house in areas of Sri Lanka that are rebuilding after the country's civil war. The organization started by building homes in Mr. Nadarajalingam's birthplace and so far has built 36 houses in the country. Ideal Hope has also built 10 houses in an area of India affected by flooding.

Mr. Omkarananda, who runs the foundation, said the charity plans to build as many as 1,000 houses (each costs about $4,000) in three years.

"Our mission is to help people affected by war or natural disaster," he said. "So many people really need help."