Can you imagine working every day from 6am-8pm, driving people around in a pedal-powered taxi cab, and then having to pay half of the fares you earned to the owner of the cab, leaving you less than $5 dollars to bring home to your family?
That’s why we think the Columban project Pedaling to Live is so important. It’s a project in Ozamiz City that provides pedicab taxis to hardworking drivers so they can overcome the bonds of poverty.
The project works by providing a tricycle taxi to a driver, who then makes interest-free payments for it into a people’s cooperative bank over the course of 18 months. After the 18 months are over, the driver assumes full ownership of the pedicab, and the money paid into the bank goes towards purchasing new cabs so that more families may be involved in the program. The payments made by drivers in the Pedaling to Live program are less than the standard rental fees, so in addition to working towards full ownership, the drivers are able to bring more money home to their families.
In the four years since the project started, pedicabs have been provided to more than 85 drivers, and over 50 drivers now own their tricycle taxi cabs having paid their loans in full. The community bank to which the payments are made has expanded, and assistance is provided to the children of drivers to pay for school and tuition fees, improved health care, home repairs and more. The drivers are encouraged to save as much as they can and meet regularly as a collective to support one another in their goals and to discuss future plans for the program. Future plans include building 40 low-cost homes on a piece of land recently purchased for this purpose. The homes will be paid for by the drivers in the same way as the pedicabs. The drivers will all help construct the houses, and the community will have new plumbing and electricity, a community organic garden and eco-friendly waste management.
This is why we think Pedaling to Live is such an important project to support.-While over 85 drivers and their families are participating in the program, there is a long list of people waiting to join. Your help, through prayer, financial support and raising awareness can go a long way- please consider getting involved!
We learned about this project through volunteering and interning in the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach. As interns and volunteers we challenge global structures of injustice by advocating for change in U.S. legislation. Supporting this project is a way you can participate in the work we are doing- ‘Challenging Structures and Changing Lives!’