June 25, 2021
Tzu Chi Long-term beneficiaries receive sidecar, pedicab
By Joy Rojas
After a series of home visits, assessments, and recommendations, Tzu Chi Foundation volunteers recently presented long-term beneficiaries Mary Jane Tolledo with a sidecar and Elvira Dandoy with a pedicab to help augment their respective family’s incomes. Bicycles were purchased by the foundation and custom-fitted with carriages at the Tzu Chi workshop.
Elpidio Valdez and Mary Joy D. Maligaya were tasked to install the carriages. Valdez, a Machine Operation Course student-turned-Tzu Chi volunteer and staff member, quickly sourced for recyclable materials instead of purchasing them from stores. Of the thick pipes that make the frame of the sidecar, he says, “We used the best recyclable materials we could find. They’re very strong and no matter how heavy the cargo is, the cart won’t break easily.”
Maligaya, a student of the Machine Operation Course, was pleased to be a part of a project that combines two Tzu Chi principles—service and recycling.
“I felt so happy building them, and I was impressed that we were able to make something useful out of recycled materials. I’m so glad that I helped make this for helping others. I hope they treasure these gifts and use them to help their families.”
Both from the indigent sector of society, Tolledo and Dandoy have been receiving rice aid from Tzu Chi Foundation since 2015.
Residents of the densely populated Happyland slums in Tondo, Manila, since 2011, Mary Jane Tolledo and her husband Jaime, both 38, work as garbage scavengers at the Navotas Fish Port. From 6:30 pm to 1 am daily, they collect discarded plastic bottles, Polyethylene plastic, and carton boxes, which they sell to a junk shop in Tondo. Depending on how much they haul, they make between P350 to P400—P100 of which goes to the neighbor who rents out his sidecar to them.
This meager income doesn’t even come close to providing for their five children (a sixth child died in 2015 of bronchopneumonia). Meriam, 21, has her own family. Marlon, 18, is an out-of-school youth who works in a junk shop four to five times a week; he gives P200 of the P300 he earns to his mother. Renelyn, 16, is another out-of-school youth who stays with her live-in partner. Baby Jane, 12, went as far as second grade, and Caleb, 9, will be a first grader next school year.
The Tolledos live in a home made of light material and without its own electrical power or water source. Electricity is tapped from a neighbor, whom they pay P150 weekly, while water is purchased at P20 a day. Firewood is used to cook their food. The family receives 30 kilos of rice a month from Tzu Chi.
Owning a sidecar will help reduce the couple’s expenses and allow them to use it for other jobs to add to their earnings.
Informal settlers of Upper Smokey Mountain in Balut, Tondo, Manila, the Dandoys are a two-income household. Elvira, 53, washes clothes twice a week, earning P250 a day. Renato, 48, is a pedicab driver who makes P150 daily on a rented pedicab, P50 of which goes to its owner.
The couple has three children, all of whom study at NBBS (North Bay Boulevard South), Navotas. Elran Jay, 16, is a seventh grader; Mark Anthony, 13, is in Grade 6; and Mico 10, is in second grade.
Besides the 20 kilos of rice they receive monthly from Tzu Chi, the Dandoys claim P3,400 every two months from the Pantawid Pamiliya Pilipino Program (4Ps), the conditional cash transfer initiative of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD). They also grow vegetables in their own backyard, a nutritious and cost-free way to put food on the table.
Still, whatever they make and receive are not enough to cover basic necessities. The Dandoys’ monthly expenses include P4,000 for food, P800 for electricity, P750 for water, P750 for cell phone load allowance for their children’s online classes, and P400 for firewood and cooking. With the new pedicab, all of Renato’s earnings now go to his family.