Chirag Bahri knows first-hand what it's like to be kidnapped by Somali pirates and has used his eight-month ordeal to help others since returning from captivity in January 2011.
Recruited by the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme to manage its operations in South Asia, Chirag has been a lifeline and a source of hope for families with loved ones abandoned in Somalia, visiting their homes, staying in touch by phone and email and making himself available 24 hours a day.
He is a skilled collaborator who has been instrumental in linking families affected by piracy with support networks and enabling others in the maritime welfare sector network to link up in the delivery of frontline services.
He has helped families stay in their homes, get food and find alternative employment where the hostages were breadwinners for extended family units. He has negotiated with landlords, government officials and others to ensure that families could continue to live as normally as possible. His advice to families on relations with the media and the dangers of those who prey on vulnerable and desperate kin has earned him gratitude, trust and respect. When he visits seafarers and their families, he attracts adulation.
Chirag has successfully negotiated with mobile phone service providers to maintain unpaid contracts and expired numbers to ensure that seafarers in captivity could still make contact with their homes from Somalia if the opportunity arose. He has linked up waiting families with released seafarers who had had contact with their loved one.