‘PIMPING’ TUK TUKS IN SRI LANKA FOR CHARITY
40 MEN PLAN TO DRIVE TUK-TUKS 1,000KM IN EIGHT DAYS FOR CHARITY
Two years ago, they drove through India in tuk-tuks and raised more than US$80,000 (S$107,000) for charity. This year, an all-male group of 39 expatriates and one Singaporean will drive through Sri Lanka in eight days, again in the three-wheeled taxis.
This time, they hope to raise US$137,000 with the journey, named the Pimp My Tuk Tuk Challenge. The idea for the first trip began as a 50th birthday celebration for Mr Nick Sutcliffe, who has worked in Singapore for five years as the managing director of a global think-tank.
“I wanted to do something that didn’t include the usual weekend getaway and I wanted to create something to give back,” said Mr Sutcliffe, 51.
When those around him expressed interest in going on the trip, he spent 10 months organising the 2013 trip.As a result, 21 expatriates decorated 11 tuk-tuks and drove six days across India.
They visited orphanages and homes to donate notebooks, sports balls and food to needy children.
Said one of the drivers, Mr Michael Phelps, 41, who works in an international money broker: “Meeting the children was just mind blowing.
“At (one of the) orphanages (we visited), all of the children were carrying HIV and it was sad to see them so happy and to know their lives are going to be so short.”
Another driver, Mr Alex Longman, 42, who also met the children, said: “We were all in tears. I think it’s a moment that every driver will never forget.”
Before embarking on the ride, friends and family of the riders donated US$80,000 to the drivers and the money went to the Round Table India, which is an organisation aimed at building schools for children, and the Singapore Children’s Society.
With the money, Round Table India built a school in Chennai, in the state of Tamil Nadu. The drivers’ expenses came from their own pockets, said Mr Longman, who is one of three organisers of this year’s challenge.
For the Pimp My Tuk Tuk Challenge slated to begin in September, the number of drivers travelling across Sri Lanka nearly doubled from 21 to 40. Drivers will drive five to eight hours a day to travel over 1,000km in eight days, from Jaffna, in the north of Sri Lanka, to Colombo, in the south-west.
The men are hoping to raise US$100,000 from corporate sponsorships of the tuk-tuks for Foundation of Goodness in Sri Lanka, which supports rural communities, and $50,000 for a local charity, Food From The Heart.
They have raised about half the amount.
Mr Anson Quek, executive director of Food From the Heart, which distributes food to the needy, said: “What has encouraged us most is the fact that we have 40 like-minded individuals coming together, giving both their time and money by taking up this challenge.
“This initiative is a wonderful display of love and unrivalled passion to help those in need.”
“I wanted to do something that didn’t include the usual weekend getaway, and I wanted to create something to give back.” – Mr Nick Sutcliffe