Helping the Urban Poor
Ozamiz City is relatively a small city located at the northwestern part of Mindanao and is one of three cities of the province of Misamis Occidental. It has a seaport which caters ships from the Visayas and Luzon and also has regular daily flights of commercial planes from Cebu and Manila. Within the city, tricycle sikad is not only the main mode of transportation but also the cheaper mode of going through around the city. While there are motorcabs as the other means of transportation in the city, tricycle (sikad) occupies 70% of the vehicles in the streets roaming around the city to transport passengers.
A survey found that tricycle drivers are living in the slum areas and rent small rooms. Their living conditions are very unsafe and unhealthy. These drivers are renting the tricycle from an operator/ entrepreneur. Most of their families rely only on the income of the husband as tricycle drivers. The maximum earnings a day of the driver is only 200-250 pesos (U.S. $4.47-$5.58). Each family has four to six children which means the income is not enough for their daily needs especially if their children are studying.
It was due to this situation that the “Pedaling to Live” project came into existence. Columban Fr. Oliver McCrossan took the initiative to look for sponsors to rent to own tricycles for qualified drivers with the end result that the drivers will eventually own the tricycles. Initially there were 40 tricycle drivers who were given the full ownership of tricycle after two years of religiously paying the amortization. Another 40 tricycles were distributed to another set of drivers who paid in full the tricycles after another two years. In only eight years, this project released 100 tricycle units! Donate to this Project.
Because other tricycle drivers in the city know the benefits of being involved in the “Pedaling to Live” project including the possibility of engaging into other livelihood activities, many drivers would want to join the project. Those who are already beneficiaries of the project want to get involved in the livelihood activities of the Pedaling to Live project.
Green Shelter Housing
Of the 100 direct sikad beneficiaries, only fourteen families became beneficiaries of the “Green Shelter Housing” project. These beneficiaries of the housing project represent only 14% of the total number of beneficiaries of the “Pedaling to Live” project.
Obviously, there are more sikad drivers in the city that still aspire to own their tricycle units and be freed from renting oneroom housing units in the poorest section of the city. They want their children to be transferred to a healthy environment with fresh air to breathe and a place where they can grow their own vegetables.
These fourteen drivers and their families in the housing project are engaging in other livelihood activities. They started a livestockraising operation out of their own contributed capital. Their wives are engaged in backyard gardening and doormat making which will give them more income for the family.
The wives of the drivers are assisting their husbands in supporting their families. They help in cleaning the piggery and feeding the pigs. On top of that, they personally do the gardening where potable vegetables are not only sold to neighbors but also used for family consumption.
The women also make doormats which are sold to their neighbors. Slowly the wives are becoming more aware that they need to be actively involved in the support of their families.
The women decided to expand their livelihood projects to include rice trading. Additionally, the women have started to bag their rice production using recycled materials (“titra-pack”). This is one way of helping and promoting the clean and green program of the city and at the same time they can earn income out of the waste materials.
These projects follow the principle that, “if a man gives a kilo of fish to the poor, he feeds him for a day; but if a man teaches the poor how to do fishing, he feeds the poor their whole life.” The goal of the project is not to give a handout, but a hand up to the urban poor in Ozamis City.
First, the driver purchases his own tricycle effectively becoming a small business owner. Then, the driver has the opportunity to become a homeowner with the Green Shelter Housing project. Completing the circle, the entire family engages in livelihood projects, animal husbandry and income-generating projects.
These changes will not come overnight, but they will endure, literally a road out of poverty for future generations.