Palakkad: Kerala's Palakkad native Sifiya Haneef will be receiving Neerja Bhanot Award-2018 for her selfless work that has helped several in the society. This Kerala widow has been working for the welfare of many destitute women in the country. As hundreds of families continue to lead better lives, it's only gratitude that they have for Sifiya.

The awardee constructed basic facilities such as toilets in hundreds of homes, medical care for many families, pension to widows and even homes for the poor. 

Sifiya will be receiving the Neerja Bhanot Pan Am Trust's Neerja Bhanot Award-2018 on senior flight purser Neerja's birthday that falls on September 7. The award will be handed over by Wendy Sue Knecht, who will fly down from Los Angeles to preside over the award ceremony. Wendy was also working in Pan Am and was a trainer of Neerja in the 1980s.

The award consists of prize money worth Rs 1.5 lakh, a citation and a trophy. In 1990, an annual award was instituted in memory of Neerja Bhanot. In a Pan Am plane hijack at Karachi Airport in September, 1986, Neerja sacrificed her life and rescued hundreds of people on board.

Sifiya was married when she was 16-years-old. She was forced to drop out of school. When she was 20-years-old, she lost her husband and was left alone with two kids.

The penchant to study, along with the lack of support at home, drove her to take up a part-time job and finance her academic pursuit. With the meagre salary that she earned, she always tried to help other widows like her for she realised soon enough that managing life without a husband is not easy. She even made a Facebook page called 'Chithal' where she writes about the issues that widows often face.