This social worker dresses up as a clown to spread awareness about COVID-19 among children in slums

Ashok Kurmi, a 37-year-old volunteer social worker, is spreading awareness about COVID-19 among children and the youth in Mumbai slums by putting on a clown costume and disinfecting public spaces as well as distributing face masks.
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The pandemic has infected over 30 million people and has claimed over 3.98 lakh lives in India, according to Worldometers. Lack of awareness about following COVID protocol has been one of the main reasons for the spread of the disease.

Ashok Kurmi, a volunteer social worker, is spreading awareness among the youth in Mumbai’s slums by dressing up as a clown. Dressed in a bright red suit, which is complete with a rainbow-hued wig and face paint, the 37-year-old executive is disinfecting public spaces, distributing face masks, and is spreading awareness about Covid-19.  

After realising that slum children are scared of the municipal workers dressed up in PPE kits, he decided to come up with this unique idea.

“With the help of different costumes, I can spread awareness without scaring people. I am able to help a little,” Kurmi said.

Over the past year, he has also dressed up like Santa Claus, Mickey Mouse, Doraemon, and Marvel superhero Spiderman. But the clown costume has been the most popular among the children so far, he said.  

Image: The Hindu

During his latest visit to India’s largest slum, Dharavi, in Mumbai, he was seen being followed by children who were shouting “joker, joker” wanting to get their hands sanitised. Kurmi also demonstrated the correct way to sanitise and wash hands and wear masks.

“I have worked at a pharmaceutical firm for the past 15 years, but social work is my passion,” he said. He is not only dedicating time and effort, but also sets aside Rs 15,000 every month for social work. He spends this money buying costume, makeup, and sanitation equipment.

As Mumbai prepares for the third wave of COVID-19, Kurmi has been putting in relentless efforts to do his part in spreading awareness. Although visiting densely populated areas like Dharavi has huge risks involved, he knows what he does and remains undeterred.

“Until this pandemic ends, I will continue to go and help people as a clown,” he said.

(Written by Vrinda Garg)


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Edited by Megha Reddy

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