Project aims to lift drivers out of poverty

| October 18, 2010 Print

We want to tell you about an inspiring Columban project in the Philippines called Pedaling to Live.  It’s  a project in Ozamiz City that provides pedicab taxis to hardworking drivers so they can overcome the bonds of poverty.

More than 50 drivers now own their own pedi-cab. In the past, they had no choice but to rent them out for about half-a-day's wages.

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.

This project contrasts sharply with the ‘normal’ procedure for pedicab drivers in Ozamiz City.  Drivers not in this program must rent their pedicabs daily from an owner.  The rental fees are high- drivers often pay half of their daily earnings to rent the taxis, which leaves them with very little each day to take home to their families, despite the fact that they work from 6am-8pm.  The payments made by drivers in Pedaling to Live 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 now own the tricyle taxi cabs themselves.  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- and 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 our work as interns in the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach.  As interns 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!’