The Hindustan Times Trailblazer Award 2021: Sonu Sood
He was the ray of hope for millions of people in 2020, a year which was full of gloomy news and the pandemic uprooting lives. Actor Sonu Sood decided to not only donate to the underprivileged, but also take it upon himself to serve and come to the rescue lakhs of migrant workers, who had to start walking to their native villages on foot, with not transport available in the nationwide lockdown.
Social media was flooded with posts of him rescuing stranded people, not just in India but different parts of the world, be it by buses, trains or chartered planes.
“It was not about thinking at that point what’s going to happen next, but for people who needed you more. That’s why I started by distributing food, providing shelters, and then the whole migrant movement started. I realised these are the people who made our homes, who have always been a part of our lives. Now when they wanted to go back to their homes, we couldn’t leave them mid way,” says the actor.
The 47-year-old launched various campaigns, programmes and even became the face of startups, all in a bid to help the economy too apart from people in need. Pravasi Yojna app (to help migrants searching for jobs), ILAAJ India (for people who need urgent medical operations), and a scholarship were some of them. Sood even distributed free e-rickshaws.
He elaborates, “There are times when you set limits to your job. I thought just feeding and sending these people back home wasn’t my only job, but to take care of their health needs and education as well. There are three pillars on which the whole country stands — its health-care, education and employment. These three were badly hit during the pandemic. I was working day and night for these three departments, and this is how all those programmes started.”
What was surprising for the actor was that people, who he had never met, volunteered to help him in his initiatives. A million is the number Sood comes up with when we ask him how many people has he been able to help so far.
He says all these schemes were of course implemented keeping the economy in mind too. “That’s why the whole employment thing, it was a channel to help their families survive. The pandemic gave us a lot of time to sit back and realise what is the real reason for us to come on this planet. It is not just for feeding our families or growing our business, but giving back to society as well,” concludes Sood.
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