The outbreak of the novel coronavirus in India has thrown unparalleled challenges to its people, who have been confined to their homes to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Even though the Centre and state governments are working in tandem to avert the crisis, there have been instances where the aid does not reach the beneficiaries. It is during these testing times that even the tiniest efforts by volunteers count.
While there are many who have been helping migrant workers walking home, by providing them food, shelter, money; the volunteer work done by actor Sonu Sood has garnered showers of praise.
Pained by the plight of migrant workers walking home amid the coronavirus lockdown, Sood arranged for buses to take them to their native states. After taking permission from the state governments of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh, he arranged for migrant labourers from Mumbai to be taken to their native states.
“The visuals of migrants, especially babies and the elderly walking a deadly distance with bruises on their feet, really made me feel very sad. It becomes necessary to spring into action at times like these, rather than just cribbing and simply feeling bad for them. I am extremely happy that I could help the migrants in my own way and I shall continue to help as much as I can,” Sonu said.
The 46-year-old actor, who is often seeing playing the role of villains in his movies, is being a Good Samaritan to the needy and destitute in these unprecedented times.
He had earlier donated over 1,500 PPE kits to doctors across Punjab, and offered his Mumbai hotel for the accommodation of health care workers.
Sood has also been feeding hundreds of underprivileged people, including daily wage labourers, who are rendered unemployed in view of the lockdown. He distributed meal kits to migrants in Bhiwandi area near Mumbai during the holy month of Ramzan.
Not stopping at this, Sood on May 26 launched a toll-free helpline – 18001213711 – to facilitate migrants who have been making attempts to reach their native states. He has set up a dedicated team for this so as to reach out to as many people as possible.
"I was getting a lot of calls... thousands of calls everyday. My family and friends were busy collecting the data and then we realised we might miss out on a lot of people who we will not be able to approach us. So we decided to open this call centre, it is a toll-free number," Sood told PTI.
Not only this, Sood is proactively responding to those who are reaching out to him on social media as well. These include some frivolous ones too, which the actor has sportingly responded to.
For instance, a fan had asked him, “Sonu bhai main apne ghar me fasa hua hu. Mujhe theke tak pahucha do (Brother, I am stuck at my home, please help me reach a liquor shop).”
To this, the actor quipped, “Bhai main theke se ghar tak to pahucha sakta hu, zarurat pade to bol dena
(Brother, I can help you get [liquor] home from a liquor shop, if you need help do tell me).”
His fans are not the only ones lauding the actor’s efforts. Several fellow actors as well as ministers have commended Sood’s work, including Union Minister Smriti Irani, who said, “I’ve had the privilege of knowing you as a professional colleague for over 2 decades now @SonuSood and celebrated your rise as an actor; but the kindness you have displayed in these challenging times makes me prouder still thank you for helping those in need.”
In fact, celebrity chef Vikas Khanna has named a dish after Sonu Sood’s native village, Moga.