More than 150 Phnom Penh cyclo received donations from Sorya Center Point's “Mission for You for Cambodia” charity fund on December 7.
The cyclo, a three-wheeled bicycle rickshaw, is part of the national identity of Cambodia. The majority of cyclo drivers are now elderly men, often from far cross the Kingdom.
The Mission for You for Cambodia charity team was established to alleviate the difficulties of the underprivileged, and especially for elderly cyclo drivers.
“We knew we had Cambodian brothers and sisters who are company owners or traders and have extra funds or stock they would like to donate, but did not know where to begin. This is why we established our charity,” said Chea Sokhiek, CEO of Sorya Center Point.
“We invited more than 150 of the Kingdom’s elderly cyclo drivers here today. We have gifted them with clothing, food and money as we understand that they are in need,” she added.
She also cited the need to preserve and protect the cyclo as a symbol of the Khmer national identity.
“I remember riding a cyclo to school and to the market when I was a young girl,” she said.
“When we help cyclo drivers, we are defending our cultural identity. I cannot guarantee how much help we will be able to provide in the future, but I will do as much as possible to attract sponsors and donors,” she added.
Nu Yun, a 74 year old cyclo driver, was born in Tbong Khmum province, and has been pedaling since 1993.
Yun, who usually waits for customers at Kandal market, shared his concerns for the cyclo business.
He said he earned from 10,000 to 20,000 riel a day, less than half of what he made in 1993.
“Thanks to the generosity of Prime Minister Hun Sen, I receive a monthly salary of 210,000 riel – and we sometimes get support from others, like what is happening here today. I want to ride my cyclo until I am no longer able to,” he added.
Long Sokhuy, head of the Cambodia Cyclo Association, said there are currently about 400 cyclo drivers in Phnom Penh and that they are elderly and cannot do other work. Most of them are from the provinces and have no accommodation.
“I always welcome donations from philanthropists to support the cyclo drivers, and allocate the funds carefully and transparently. Their cyclos are their homes. They are where they eat and sleep,” she added.