FPJ Honours Angels Of Mumbai 2023: Meet The 12 Winners & Their Inspiring Journeys

FPJ Honours Angels Of Mumbai 2023: Meet The 12 Winners & Their Inspiring Journeys

The Free Press Journal (FPJ) honoured 10 individuals as 'Angels of Mumbai' for their selfless contributions to various societal causes. There were two special mentions during the event.

Azhar KhanUpdated: Sunday, February 18, 2024, 03:49 PM IST
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FPJ Honours Angels Of Mumbai 2023: Meet The 12 Winners & Their Inspiring Journeys | FPJ

Mumbai: Friday evening witnessed The Free Press Journal (FPJ) honouring 10 individuals as 'Angels of Mumbai' for their selfless contributions to various societal causes including education, hunger relief, sports, housing and social welfare programs, among others. Additionally, two special mentions were made during the event.

The event was honoured by the presence of the talented actress Saiyami Kher, who served as the Chief Guest for the Angels of Mumbai awards. Known for her role in the movie 'Ghoomer', Saiyami Kher presented awards to some of the winners, who are the true heroes making a difference in Mumbai.

Another distinguished guest at the event was Rekha Koita from the Koita Foundation. She also joined us in celebrating the spirit of compassion by honouring the winners at the event.

Here are the 12 winners of the Angels Of Mumbai 2023

Iqbal Mamdani, founder of Mamdani Health And Education Trust. He and a small team provide dignified last rites for unclaimed dead bodies handed over by the Mumbai Police and the Railway Police. They depend on donations and Mamdani’s own savings. Every month, Iqbal Mamdani and his team of 12 conducts the last rites of at least 100 unclaimed dead bodies across Mumbai.

Sitaram Shelar, founder of Paani Haq Samiti. Grassroots organisation working to get water connections for Mumbai’s slum dwellers. “In a burgeoning city like Mumbai, the most vulnerable and economically challenged have to fight the hardest for water,” Shelar said.

Pooja Taparia, founder of Arpan, an organisation working to spread awareness on child sexual abuse. “I had registered Arpan in 2005, but it was a play I watched on the issue of child sexual abuse in 2006 that confirmed what I wanted to do,” she recounted.

Ravindra and Sujata Sugwekar, who run Sangopita, a residential facility near Badlapur town for children and adults with cerebral palsy and mental disabilities. The retired bank employee and his wife run a full-services residential home for physically and mentally disabled children in distant Badlapur in Thane district, called Sangopita.

Tarun Mitra Mandal, an organisation that was established in the 1960s, a youth movement to volunteer for various causes. Awarded particularly for their work on eye donations. In 1968, a batch of 14 students who had just completed their matriculation came together to form a charitable organisation.

Rishi Agarwal, founder of SafaiBank, which works to prevent MLP or multi layer plastic from entering the dumping grounds. For environmentalist Rishi Agarwal, the tens of tonnes of plastic wrappers at the Deonar dumping ground were the environment’s biggest enemy. “They are not recyclable, so there are no takers for it. It just stays on in the environment forever," he said.

Purnota Datta Bahl set up Cuddles Foundation 10 years ago to provide nutrition to children undergoing chemotherapy. Cuddles now works with over 40 hospitals across India. She and her husband had been donating to the premier cancer care hospital, and so when the hospital invited her to visit the children she was supporting, she agreed. “In room after room, I saw stories that were completely shocking,” Bahl recounted.

Smita Shah, an animal lover who crowd funds and handles the medical care and feeding of all stray animals in Cuffe Parade. For 72-year-old Smita Shah, the stray animals in and around her residence in Cuffe Parade are almost her children. Since 2018, Shah and a small network of friends
and other concerned citizens have managed to get more than 300 animals, cats and dogs, sterilised and medicated.

Dharmesh Barai has led 150-plus weeks of cleaning up mangroves in Navi Mumbai through his group, Environment Life Foundation. “I saw a huge mound of garbage, plastic waste, tubelights, broken glass and old shoes lining the sea. Tiny mud crabs were trying to burrow through them. The fact that we are decimating their habitats through our mindless action forced me to do something about it,” he said.

Shaikh Faiyaz Alam set up and runs the Govandi Citizens Welfare Forum, which works on civic and environmental issues in the slum area of Govandi and Mankhurd. “We realised that we don't have any voice as a community,” Alam said. “Even to mediate and hold the government machinery accountable, there were a lot of outside people, but nothing from within the community.”

Gauri Gupta: A special mention for Gauri Gupta, a 15 year old girl who helped set up an art therapy programme for municipal school children. The nationwide lockdown due to Covid-19 had closed schools and summer camps, and she thought an online art camp would be a good way to keep children occupied.

Sudhir Kudalkar: A special mention for Sudhir Kudalkar, a policeman who set up an organisation to look after stray dogs. Kudalkar through his initiatives like PAL, a group of like minded animal activists, lawyers and ground level feeders, Kudalkar aims to go above and beyond his duty in not only towards the citizens but also the stray animals.

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