Due to COVID-19, the number of travellers has reduced drastically in every country. In Cambodia, tuk-tuk drivers that relied on ferrying tourists were affected to the extent of not being able to pay rental for their tuk-tuk vehicles and not having enough money to buy food. In view of the situation faced by these drivers, Tzu Chi volunteers teamed up with a local youth organization to distribute rice, bread and instant noodles to these drivers.
Tzu Chi Distribute Rice and Noodles to affected Tuk-tuk drivers
Tourism has been one of the main sources of revenue for Cambodia. When COVID-19 hit, streets that used to be packed with tourists were empty, leaving tuk-tuk drivers in a lurch. One Tuk-tuk driver said, “Life is particularly tough now, sometimes I have customers, sometimes none. Soon, I won’t be able to afford to buy food because I could not even earn a dollar (USD) a day.”
Tzu Chi saw the drivers’ plight. Volunteer Hu Mei Ling said, “Some of the tuk-tuk vehicles are rented, when income is low, the drivers could not afford to pay rent. The monthly rental is $150 (USD), but the amount they earn is far less than that, so they have nothing left for daily expenses.”
With income drastically reduced, these drivers are now having problem purchasing food. Tzu Chi volunteers teamed up with a local youth organization to distribute 20kg rice, instant noodles and bread to each family. Hu Mei Ling expressed, “We prioritize in helping their families first, so that they can have enough food to sustain themselves for at least one to two months.”
Happiness could be seen on one of the tuk-tuk drivers, Song Hong, when he received the aid, “I am really grateful for these rice and noodles, so that we can cut down on expenses during the pandemic.”
Enterprise Gives Away Free Masks to Protect the Health of the Drivers
Apart from providing food to the drivers, Tzu Chi volunteers also partnered with enterprises to take care of the drivers’ health. Liu Da Wei, General Manager of a garment production group, said, “We are professional garment manufacturers, so we are able to produce face masks as well. Tzu Chi told us that they needed face masks for 4500 people, and so we gladly produced these face masks for them.”
With the face masks, not only can the tuk-tuk drivers protect themselves, they can also protect their customers. Apart from that, Tzu Chi volunteers provided a sticker to each tuk-tuk vehicle, to remind the passengers about health and safety. Volunteer Xie Ming Xun said, “These people move about freely around Phomn Penh, and they interact with many other people. When you meet someone, you have to tell him or her of the dangers of this pandemic and remind them to wear a mask and wash their hands frequently.”
After two days of aid distribution, Tzu Chi volunteers managed to help 3300 tuk-tuk drivers. Inspired by the volunteers, the drivers also contributed their kindness by each donating a small amount to pay the love forward. This way, love can form a full cycle between the givers and the receivers.