A helping hand from Hawick to Jaipur

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A photographer from the Borders is raising money to help a rickshaw driver in India to protect his livelihood.

Graeme Webb, who runs Graeme Webb Photography in Hawick, met Ranjeet, who calls himself Rain, while travelling in Jaipur three years ago.

“He saw me walking back to my hotel and stopped to say hello,” says Graeme. “I hired his rickshaw for three days and he was the best tour guide anyone could expect to have. He never once tried to rip us off, by taking us to somewhere that he could earn commission, because he is a totally independent driver.”

The two have stayed in touch. Recently, a taxi group moved into Jaipur, offering car journeys for the same price as a rickshaw ride. Rain had little option but to buy a car.

He took his life savings, borrowed money from family and friends and raised a total of £1,000. He took possession of the car but he still owes another £1,000 on it.

He thought he could earn money taxiing people around and over time pay off the outstanding money. He knew he needed a taxi licence to do this, but he discovered that he cannot get a taxi licence until he has paid for the car in full.

“Now, he risks losing everything,” says Graeme. “If he does not pay the balance by June 4 he will lose the car and the seller of the car will keep his £1,000.”

Rain lives with his family in a one-room house. Running his taxi allows him to provide a simple living for those who depend on him, but the line between getting by and complete destitution is a fine one in India.

“I have never done anything like this before (crowd funding for charity),” says Graeme, “but I feel this is a really worthy cause, as he stands to lose not only his own money, but money borrowed from friends and family.”

If the campaign succeeds in raising the minimum amount of £500, Rain will be able to pay the balance on his car, get his taxi licence and keep providing for his family. Exceeding this and reaching £1,000 will mean he no longer has any outstanding finance on the car, and with £2,000 he will be able to pay back his family and friends.

You can make donations via www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-rain-provide-for-his-family-or-lose-it-all#/story, or drop them into Graeme’s office in Noble Place, Hawick.