Tiger Melhem, a bus driver who lives in Charlottetown, shows some of the many items he will pack into about eight suitcases to give to impoverished children in Peru.
©Guardian photo by Heather Taweel
The bus driver with the big heart is getting ready to once again spread a whole lot of joy.
Tiger Melhem, 58, of Charlottetown has been busy gathering plenty of items to hand deliver to poverty-stricken children in villages in Peru.
In 2012, he headed to the airport with a hefty load of goods donated by friends, co-workers and local businesses to go along with numerous pairs of shoes that he purchased.
He is set to return in June with a far bigger bag of goodies. This time, some high school students will join Melhem to help lug all the supplies on and off the plane, and to hand them out.
Donations have piled in.
He has 100 calculators, 400 pieces of clothing, 100 pairs of shoes, 3,000 pieces of medical supplies, 60 toys, 10 soccer balls, 200 toothbrushes, 60 kit bags and purses and 400 local school T-shirts.
More than $10,000 worth of goods will be packed into about eight suitcases with Melhem and the students taking them to Peru.
“I just can’t wait to take it down there,’’ he says.
This philanthropy to the Peruvians was sparked by a trip Melhem made to Peru in 2007 when he encountered extreme poverty in a village located in Iquitos, the largest city in the Peruvian rainforest.
He had a magical experience when a boy asked for money to buy shoes. Melhem obliged, expecting the money to be spent elsewhere. He was pleasantly surprised to watch from a distance as the boy actually went ahead and bought a pair of shoes and slipped them onto his bare feet.
Melhem set his mind on one day returning to the same village with a pile of shoes for the needy children. He did in 2012 and he will do so again in a few months.
“It’s nothing about me,’’ he says. “It’s about the kids — to let these kids be happy . . . I get excited.’’
Melhem does not need any more donated goods. He and the students will have their hands full heading to Peru with the large mound of items already stockpiled in Melhem’s home.
The kind-hearted bus driver, however, could use a little assistance to help cover travel costs. People can call Melhem at 892-0794 if they wish to help.
Melhem is also encouraging people to bring their own items to pass out to children when visiting impoverished places.
“Just do something for someone else,’’ he says.