Young Indian lawyer-activist Afroz Shah is among ten men and women who are being honored by CNN as the ‘Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2019’ for “making the world a better place by helping families affected by tragedy, cleaning up the environment, protecting neglected animals, and so much more.”
A Mumbai resident, Shah, now known for the world’s largest beach cleanup project, started this movement cleaning Versova Beach with a neighbor in 2015. And as the word spread on social media, more and more volunteers joined the cause. He went on to start the Afroz Shah Foundation to advance the cause of keeping plastic out of the ocean.
The volunteer movement started by Shah, CNN highlights, has cleared more than 60 million pounds of garbage – mostly plastic waste –from Mumbai’s beaches and waterways.
CNN quoted Shah as saying that as a child he played at Versova Beach and was now upset to see how much trash was piling up.
“The whole beach was like a carpet of plastic,” he said. “It repulsed me.”
CNN notes that Shah spent more than “200 weekends dedicated to the mission, inspiring more than 200,000 volunteers to join him…By October 2018, Versova Beach was finally clean and Shah’s cleanups expanded to another beach as well as a stretch of the Mithi River and other regions of India.”
The ten heroes, said CNN, were nominated by the audiences and were selected by CNN to each receive a $10,000 cash prize. Audiences can now vote for the ‘CNN Hero of the Year,’ who will receive an additional $100,000 for his or her cause.
The winner will be announced at a ceremony hosted by Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa Dec. 8 at 8 p.m. ET.