Reach­ing out to those in need in a tuk-tuk

Pimp My Tuk Tuk (PMTT) Char­ity Ride hits the road

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - EVENTS - By Kavee­sha Fer­nando

“40 grown men get­ting emo­tional is un­heard of, but when you see the faces of chil­dren as they see clean wa­ter for the first time, you get emo­tional,” says Paul Davies, a par­tic­i­pant of the Pimp My Tuk Tuk (PMTT) Char­ity Ride. Paul has been a part of the 2015 ride and is tak­ing part again this year, with his com­pany Ya­hava Cof­fee act­ing as one of the spon­sors.

The ride was flagged off on Friday with much fan­fare. Al­though the event seemed like a very fun af­fair, don’t let looks de­ceive you- it has a se­ri­ous pur­pose: the 2015 ride touched the lives of 10,000 peo­ple and this year too aims to be as suc­cess­ful.

The ride is or­ga­nized by the PMTT team in Sin­ga­pore in part­ner­ship with the Foun­da­tion of Good­ness. A ma­jor­ity of the 54 rid­ers are ex­pa­tri­ate pro­fes­sion­als. The team de­cided to use a tuk-tuk rather than any other form of trans­port be­cause it is a sym­bol of the com­mon man. Each rider funds his own trip, and the rid­ers pay the Sri Lanka TukTuk As­so­ci­a­tion the ve­hi­cle hire.

The ride started in Colombo and will travel to Trin­co­ma­lee via Mi­hin­tale be­fore go­ing to the east coast to Arugam­bay, head­ing in­wards across Monara­gala, re­turn­ing to the south­ern coast and pro­ceed­ing via Galle to Colombo, cov­er­ing 1133km in to­tal. Along the way, the rid­ers will stop at five des­ti­na­tions to work with the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, con­duct­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian and com­mu­nity devel­op­ment ac­tiv­i­ties. These in­clude vis­it­ing the Re­verse Os­mo­sis Wa­ter Pu­rifi­ca­tion Plants (R. O. Plants) built by the group as well as the Meth­sewa Spe­cial Needs Home in Mon­er­a­gala, the Foun­da­tion of Good­ness (FoG) Vil­lage Heart­beat Project Em­pow­er­ment Cen­tre in Bat­ticaloa and the FoG MCC Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence and Sports Academy in Seenigama.

They will raise funds through var­i­ous means which will in­clude auc­tions in the evenings at the ho­tels they will be stay­ing at. Paul bid Rs. 4500 for a spice rack last year, some­thing which he now con­sid­ers a prized pos­ses­sion. They will also be rais­ing money to buy so­lar pan­els for 70 houses in two re­mote vil­lages in Hasalaka, Udugala De­bokka and Gala Muduna where res­i­dents must trek a steep hill in or­der to ac­cess the 'out­side world' and face a threat from wild ele­phants.

Speak­ing at a news con­fer­ence held be­fore the start of the ride, Founder and Chief Trustee of the Foun­da­tion of Good­ness Kushil Gu­nasek­era stated that he was in­cred­i­bly happy with the good work done by the PMTT. “No amount of thanks will do jus­tice for the work that you’ll do,” he said, adding that he hoped to work with the team again in the fu­ture.

Mem­ber of the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee of PMTT 2017 Alex Long­man ex­plained why they de­cided to choose the Foun­da­tion of Good­ness. “We’ve been to every sin­gle place, seen ev­ery­thing that we’ve done and raised money for, we know that every dol­lar goes ex­actly where we want it to go, we know there is no slip­page."

The PMTT char­ity ride that be­gan on Septem­ber 15 and will con­tinue till Septem­ber 22. The ride is spon­sored by Ac­cel­era­sia (main spon­sor) and oth­ers, in­clud­ing VISA, TNL Ra­dio and David Peries Mo­tor Com­pany. The hos­pi­tal­ity part­ner for the event is Kings­bury Ho­tel, while Cit­rus Leisure will act as the lo­gis­tics part­ner. For fur­ther de­tails, please visit http://www.pimp­my­tuk­ or fol­low Pimp My Tuk Tuk and Foun­da­tion of Good­ness on Face­book.

Kushil Gu­nasek­era. Pix by Priyan­tha Wick­ra­maarachchi

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