Reaching out to those in need in a tuk-tuk
Pimp My Tuk Tuk (PMTT) Charity Ride hits the road
“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.pimpmytuktuk.net/ or follow Pimp My Tuk Tuk and Foundation of Goodness on Facebook.
Kushil Gunasekera. Pix by Priyantha Wickramaarachchi