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India’s Coronavirus Warriors

Reel Life Bollywood Villain Turned Real Life Hero: Sonu Sood Gets Recognition For His Work During Coronavirus Pandemic

Bollywood Actor Sonu Sood has been arranging buses and flights for migrants to return home, providing financial support, jobs, food and other kinds of relief to people affected by Coronavirus pandemic

Reel Life Bollywood Villain Turned Real Life Hero Sonu Sood Gets Recognition For His Work During Coronavirus Pandemic
  • Actor Sonu Sood has been grabbing headlines for helping stranded migrants
  • Mr Sood had arranged for transport and food for people during lockdown
  • Mr Sood is also helping people by providing jobs and other essentials

New Delhi: Actor Sonu Sood who has been helping people from all walks of life during the Coronavirus pandemic has been conferred with the prestigious SDG Special Humanitarian Action Award by the Department of Planning of the Government of Punjab. Sonu Sood received the award at a virtual ceremony on Monday (September 28) for his selfless humanitarian efforts helping stranded migrants by arranging food, buses, trains and chartered flights for them and in some cases providing livelihood. The award was thought to have been conferred to Sonu Sood by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) but the UN body in a statement issued a clarification and said,

The ‘Special Humanitarian Action Award’ given to Mr Sonu Sood was conferred on him by the Department of Planning of the Government of Punjab, with the support of the Sustainable Development Goals Coordination Centre. The awardees were selected based on the recommendation of an independent jury. UNDP was not involved in the selection nor in the conferring of the award to Mr Sonu Sood. We congratulate Mr Sood on receiving this award and appreciate his humanitarian efforts to help people in these challenging times.

In Pics: Thank You: Bollywood Celebrities Who Came Forward To Help During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Sonu Sood has been involved in various kinds of relief work since the early days of the pandemic in India. In April, through an Instagram post, the actor revealed that he has offered his hotel in Mumbai for medical professionals on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19 to stay. In a statement, he said,

In the tough times that we have been living and to support the national heroes who have been working tirelessly day and night, I open my hotel in Juhu for all the healthcare workers. Considering the mammoth duty these heroes are doing right now, this is the least we can do for them. We are all in this together, let’s all come forward and support them.

Also Read: COVID Fighters: On Duty for 160 Days, Mumbai’s Dr Mehul Shah Shares How His Team Is Fighting The Pandemic From The Frontline

Opening the gates of his hotel for coronavirus warriors was like a first chapter of the book on ‘acts of kindness by Sonu Sood’. The actor along with his business partner and friend Neeti Goel also undertook distribution of cooked meals among migrant labourers stuck in various parts of Mumbai. Soon after this, Sonu Sood started the drive to help stranded migrant workers and send them back to their native place.

In an interview with NDTV, Mr Sood said what motivated him to arrange transport service for hundreds and thousands of people and said that when one goes on the field, one realises the kind of sufferings people have to go through. He said,

People are waiting for trains, some kind of means so that they can reach out to their loved ones. During food distribution, we saw a couple of families walking all the way to Karnataka. I somehow convinced them to give me a couple of days to arrange conveyance for them.

That is how on May 11, for the first time, 10 buses arranged by Mr Sood left with 350 migrants from Maharashtra to Karnataka, with permissions from doctors and governments of both the states. Since then, there has been no looking back for the actor. From buses, trains, to even chartered flights, Mr Sood has arranged all possible means of transportation to help people get back to their families.

Also Read: Celebrity Chef Vikas Khanna Turns Hero To Masses, Provides Over 40 Million Meals To The Poor During COVID-19 Pandemic

To help as many people as possible, on May 25, the actor launched helpline number – 18001213711 for migrants living in Mumbai and willing to go back to their home town. The actor tweeted the helpline number along with a message in Hindi, asking migrants to get in touch with him and share details of their location and their destination. He tweeted, “If you are in Mumbai and want to go home, please call on this number. And tell us – How many of you are there? What’s your current location? And where do you want to go? Me and my team will try to help as much as possible.”

Speaking to news agency PTI, Mr Sood had explained the purpose behind launching the toll-free number and said,

I was getting a lot of calls… thousands of calls every day. My family and friends were busy collecting the data then we realised we might miss out on a lot of people who will not be able to approach us. So, we decided to open this call centre, it is a toll-free number.

Mr Sood has a dedicated team addressing the calls and making all the transportation arrangements. Mr Sood has also been using Twitter to connect with people requiring transport facility. The actor responds to every tweet seeking help and thanking him for the noble work.

Also Read: From A Care Giver To A Care Seeker: Story Of A COVID Warrior Who Is Back On Frontlines After Defeating COVID-19

During the course of the lockdown followed by phased reopening, various other problems like, accommodation, loss of jobs, lack of phones for online classes, and no source of income surfaced online and Mr Sood attempted to address all.

Earlier in July, a video of a Nageswara Rao’s (a farmer from Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor district) young girls ploughing the fields with a yoke went viral on social media. In an attempt to provide for the family, the two girls started farming after their father’s 20-year-old tea stall got shut during the lockdown. After seeing the plight of the girls, Mr Sood gifted a tractor to the family struggling with poverty and unable to hire a tractor or oxen to plough the land.

Sharing the video on Twitter, Mr Sood wrote, “This family doesn’t deserve a pair of Ox. They deserve a tractor. So sending you one. By evening a tractor will be ploughing your fields.”

Also Read: Both Frontline Warriors, This Couple Miss Spending Time With Daughter As They Battle With COVID-19 Pandemic

Similarly, in August, after NDTV highlighted the disruption in the education of students in Mumbai’s Aarey due to lack of smartphones, tablets and high speed internet connection, various people including Mr Sood extended a helping hand. He delivered smartphones to 27 children and also spoke to them via a video call, urging them to study hard and make their parents proud.

Mr Sood has also launched ‘Pravasi Rojgar’ a mobile application to help migrant workers find jobs. In August, through a tweet, Mr Sood informed that he is offering accommodation to over 20,000 migrated workers who have also been provided jobs in garment units in Noida through Pravasi Rojgar.

Mr Sood even provided financial support to actor Anupam Shyam, who was in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) of Mumbai’s Lifeline hospital for dialysis. After the Cine And TV Artistes’ Association (CINTAA) appealed to people to provide financial aid for Mr Shyam’s treatment, Sonu Sood came forward and tweeted that he has been in touch with Anupam’s family.

Also Read: COVID Fighters: Meet Agnes, A Head Nurse From Mumbai Who Is Posted In A COVID-19 Dedicated Hospital

The actor also supported frontline warriors by donating 25,000 face shields to Maharashtra Police. According to Mr Sood, this is the least he can do for the ‘real heroes’. Lauding the work of police officials, among the many frontline warriors working through the pandemic to serve the public, Mr Sood said, “My police brothers & sisters are our real heroes & this is the least that I can do for the commendable work which they have been doing.”

Over the past few months, reel life villain has definitely played the role of a real life hero for hundreds and thousands of people. Mr Sood has reaffirmed the fact that kindness is still alive. When asked how he does the incredible work, Mr Sood said,

It feels like God is somehow making things happen and we are just following orders.

Also Read: Fight Against COVID-19: Shah Rukh Khan Provides Protection Kits; Maharashtra Health Minister Appreciates Contribution

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

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