Volunteer social worker Ashok Kurmi is helping an army of young fans fight the coronavirus in Mumbai’s slums using an unusual accessory: a clown costume.
Dressed in a bright red clown suit, complete with face paint and a rainbow-hued wig, the 37-year-old executive spends his days off disinfecting public spaces, distributing face masks and spreading awareness about Covid-19.
Over the past year, he has dressed up as Santa Claus, Mickey Mouse, Doraemon and Marvel superhero Spiderman. But his clown get-up is the most popular by far, he said.
On a recent visit to India’s largest slum Dharavi, groups of children followed him, chanting “joker, joker” and offering their hands to be sanitised.
With the help of visual aids and posters, Kurmi patiently showed them how to wash their hands and wear face masks correctly.
He spends around 15,000 rupees ($205) — a third of his monthly salary — on buying costumes, make-up supplies and sanitation equipment.