Slum Survivor spends week as a peddling taxi driver to boost coffers of poverty charity
THIS man has shown he is a true Slum Survivor – by taking a sponsored bike ride to a whole new level.
Ian Bland, 43, raised more than £2,500 by spending a week living the life of a trisikad driver in the Philippines, riding people around in a cabin attached to a BMX bike for 12 hours a day.
Money raised from the Slum Survivor Challenge will go to AkarakA which provides scholarships for young people to help break the cycle of poverty that many families cannot escape without educational opportunities.
In the gruelling heat, he lost four kilograms of weight and had to live off the £14.77 he made over the six days – about 20p an hour – which is typical of trisikad drivers in Talisay City.
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Ian said: "I was going to do a sponsored cycle ride, but thought this might be more unusual and more of a challenge.
"In terms of poverty, we often talk about living on less than a dollar a day, but often do not realise how hard it is even to earn that dollar.
"It takes 12 hours of hard work, day in, day out, just to be able to get money for basics such as food, clothes and shelter."
Ian, who grew up on Grimsby's Yarborough Estate before moving to Claxby, stayed with his host Gian – also a trisikad driver – in a slum settlement in Tabunok.
It had no running water, no toilet, no bed and an open drainage system, sleeping in a small room with Gian and his two brothers.
Talisay City has just three social workers for a population of 200,000 and Ian told how poverty is rife, with people scavenging through piles of rubbish to find food or anything to sell so they can feed themselves.
His trisikad was a BMX-sized bike welded to an iron frame to accommodate passengers with one working brake, no gears and the minimum fare was just five pesos – less than 10p – for a distance of about 2km.
From these earnings, he also had to pay rental for the trisikad, about 50 pesos – £1 – which meant the most he ever earned in a day was just over £3, the least was just more than £1, which is less than it costs to feed a family.
Ian said: "Locals had never seen a Caucasian driver before and the first few days everyone stared and pointed.
"It is a tough life with little chance of hope for many and I could not even afford the very basic necessities.
"The lack of opportunities to earn money, the expense of food and daily living costs in relation to income make it an impossible battle to survive."
To find out more about Akaraka, a Singapore based charity which provides education to break the cycle of poverty, visit www.akaraka.org.sg
To donate to Ian, who now lives in Singapore, go to www.giveasia.org/s/s7qla
Keep checking your Grimsby Telegraph for Ian's full account of this unusual challenge and the unimaginable poverty he encountered.