In these times of crisis, it’s heartening to see yet another actor chip in to help. Saloni Khanna Patell who recently got married to long-time boyfriend Viraf Patell could have had a huge band baaja baarat kind of shaadi but she preferred to have just a court marriage and instead, used the marriage money to help Covid patients. Supposedly, Viraf just put a rubber band on her finger instead of a ring so that they could use the money to help people in this crisis.
Crediting her husband, Viraf, for coming up with the idea, Saloni says, “We felt that it would be just a better use of the money if we helped Covid patients. This made us feel happy, more so as we had not even used our parents’ money — that would not be correct I feel. This money is from Viraf and I. Both of us had saved up money to do something in Mumbai and we have already started helping Covid patients who were looking for help. Usually, he comes up with such ideas. It’s uncanny, but usually he says something which is already in my mind — that’s how we are. He says something and I am already thinking about it.”
The couple is currently trying to identify NGOs and individuals who are in genuine need of help. “Sometimes, it's people we know and sometimes, it's unknown people too. We have not planned anything. We have helped a few people already but haven’t counted. It’s not restricted to just Mumbai and Delhi. We come across people who need instant help, so we help them. We do ask around a bit. Usually, if we get a request and I find out that its genuine from somebody who knows that individual, we help them. Whoever we have helped, we have been able to identify easily. It hasn’t been so difficult,” Saloni shares.
Adding further she says, “Last year, during the first wave we were associated with the charity website that Viraf had started. We have been associated with certain NGOs since then and we are identifying more.”
But with so many organisations and individuals stepping out to help others, it has become difficult to pick. “I think we need to have an overall picture of the NGOs and individuals, and then we help the genuine ones. Covid has hit everyone badly. People who were donating earlier have been hit by Covid and have lost jobs. I have also tried to identify NGOs that are struggling so that we can help them with donations,” Saloni informs.
Not just human beings, but even animals have been affected by the pandemic. Many strays have been left without food to live on, shelter, and more. Speaking about her intentions of helping animals, Saloni says, “I am an animal lover. There are a lot of NGOs doing their bit for animals. These NGOs are trying to find the basics too, so I would love to help them too.”
Saloni says her efforts will not just be limited to the pandemic. “We want to help as much as we can. Honestly, it is a selfish motive... helping others makes us feel better and less helpless. If I am sitting at home and cannot do anything, I get anxious. So many people are doing so much like creating content and making people laugh. I am sure we will figure out something, but the idea is to carry out helping if not Covid then with other stuff.”
So, will she set up her foundation or NGO in the future? “Maybe! I haven’t thought about it. This carries a huge amount of responsibility. I don’t want to be unfair. When I take things forward, I will need to be fully committed to it. I haven’t reached that phase of my life to make that decision right now, though I think it’s a great thought to have. I am going to keep it in the back of my mind. As and when I can be fully committed to an NGO, I will... maybe 10 years down,” Saloni informs.
The past one year has undoubtedly been a difficult phase for all, but it has also taught several life lessons. Sharing what Covid has taught her, Saloni says, “Covid has taught me immense gratitude for everything I have. I have a roof over my head and my loved ones — that's all, one needs.”
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