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Sonu Sood On Why He Helps Migrant Workers To Get Home With Food In Their Bellies

The one member  of  the  Indian entertainment industry who  has proved himself a messiah  for stranded  migrant workers is Sonu Sood.

It all started in  a trickle  of  good samaritanism when  distressed  migrants desirous  of  travelling  home reached  out to  Sonu Sood for  help. Soon  the trickle turned into  a torrent  of  transportation as  Sood,   the young muscular actor  from Hindi , Telugu and Tamil cinema , arranged buses  for  hundreds of  wage-earners  to reach their homes during this  period of extended lockdown.

Explaining the reason why he took the initiative to ensure  these migrants reached home with  hope in their eyes and  food in their bellies, Sonu Sood says, “When I saw those haunting visuals  of  hundreds of workers walking for  hundreds of miles  I couldn’t look away. I had  to do something. Like many of us I couldn’t sleep.”

  It all started  for Sonu with  a chance encounter with  migrant workers  on  the street  of Mumbai. “When I  was  on one of  my food drives  I  saw  migrants  walking .When  I asked them where they were heading to, they said Karnataka  . I couldn’t believe they were walking all the way for those  hundreds of miles. I  told them to give me two days  to arrange buses for them.”

 Sonu then  began  negotiating though India’s great network of redtapism. “I started talking  to government officials  in Maharashtra  amd  Karnataka. I  got all the  necessary permission.And I sent  around 350 migrants  home to Karnataka  in  the  first lot .”

  Something told Sonu this  was  just the  beginning  of the journey. “Seeing them smile with tears in their eyes I knew  this  was not going to be for just 350 people. I had to help thousands who were trying to get home during the lockdown. I started a  dialogue  with   government  officials  of  many other Indian states like Uttarakhand , Bihar,  Jharkhand and  Uttar Pradesh  about how to get these migrants  home from the  cities.”

 Everywhere   the actor-philanthropist got a positive  response.  “They were  very helpful. They got things moving  through the  bureaucracy.Even now as we speak around 1200  migrants are  being taken home. Approxinately 12,000  migrants have  reached home by now (through  Sonu Sood’s initiative).As  we speak the phone  is ringing with more requests . This is a mission for me. I won’t sleep well until every single  migrant from Mumbai and Delhi reaches home.”

What  forces  impel Sonu to do what he is doing? “It’s something I’ve been  brought up with . My mom and dad always  taught me  that privilege  means a responsibility. If I am successful it is because I am meant to help those who are less privileged than me.”

 Sonu has made  a promise  to himself. “I’ll see every single worker  home. And I am not in this  alone. My chartered accountants,  my  best friend Neeti Goel…we are all in this together. We speak  20 times  a day co-ordinating  travel plans for workers  in different  cities. I just hope I’m able to live up to  expectations.My own and the  people reaching out to me for help.”

Sonu is  working  20 hours a day to  see the migrants  are on their way. “I’m super-charged . I am connecting  with people till late  in the night and then  seeing a new  busload  of  migrants are  off to their destination in the morning. It’s a 24×7 job.”

 And the payoff? “I can’t describe  the feeling when  workers send  me videos during their journey home  and when they reach home, They make me realize  I’m on the right path.I feel somewhere I will be part of the lives of all those  people whom I’ve helped reach home.”

   To Sonu  this is the greatest  achievement of  his life. “I may have done  a hundred films. But to hold the hand of those  people sitting at the roadside waiting for someone to take them home is a life-changing  experience.It will stay with me  forever.”

Why aren’t  other privileged  members  of  the Bollywood  fraternity coming  forward  with a helping hand?

 Sonu  mumbles, “Oh everyone is  doing what he  or she can.We’re all in this together.”

Spoken like  a true altruist.

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