The man behind the steering wheel is Preejo TJ, the corona warrior of Chennai. A few days after the first lockdown was announced, we came to know the multiple hardships faced by migrant workers, homeless people and destitute. Without wasting time, Preejo borrowed his uncle’s car and started doing relief work. “From the first lockdown to the recent one, I have been delivering food and dry provisions for the needy, homeless and stray dogs with Greater Chennai Corporation’s (GCC) permission. I started by giving food to homeless people all across Chennai. During the initial days of the first lockdown, there weren’t many volunteers or NGOs on the ground. Slowly, I started giving provisions to people in slum areas, those who don’t have a ration card, differently-abled people, members from Irula communities and so on,” he says.
The youngster has spent 14 hours a day in relief work and helped 1,75,000 people in the city. “After the fourth lockdown, my focus was only on migrants – a lot of migrants started walking from different parts of the state towards Chennai. I started driving to the highways and picked them and dropped them at different shelter camps of the corporation. I have also made sure that the migrant workers got tickets to travel back to their homes,” shares Preejo.
Preejo has also raised close to Rs 14 lakh with the help of his friends. Recollecting one incident during his work, he tells us, “After the second lockdown, I happened to pass through Parrys. When my car reached the locality, around 70 people started running towards me. Many such incidents happened during lockdown 1 and 2,” he remarks.