Creating jobs and opportunities out from junk donations.
Like a mini Black Friday, people are crowded outside the shop before its opening hours with their empty shopping bags. Once the employee unlocks the glass door, the crowd flocks in to grab a huge pile of clothes and chucks them to their chosen corner to sort out what they want. Men scout through electronic products while some women are more interested in maternity goods. Whatever it is, everyone seems to be an expert of their own trade.
Why are these people flooding in to this normal-looking shop selling junk on a Tuesday in the Bangkok slums?
A couple of years back, these people were just looking for jobs in one of the poorest communities in Bangkok. Now many have become accomplished traders, craftswomen, and seamstresses based on the good works of Second Chance Bangkok.
About Second Chance Bangkok
Second Chance Bangkok is a social enterprise set up where the largest slum in Thailand is – Klong Toey. Their aim was to sustainably aid the community.
Their unique business has two main activities.
The shop is the main hub of life in SCB. The first step of the value chain is receiving donations.
SCB survives off the donations of kind souls, often who are moving out of the country. By providing a place to put their unwanted household goods (furniture, toys, clothes) to good use, SCB gives a second life to what would otherwise become trash.
What’s better than to donate to those who need them? It always makes us feel better doing something good.
As a go-to source for donations of all kinds, Second Chance ensures that goods will move from fortunate people to those who need it most, all with super efficiency.
The process works something like this:
First you call SCB to pick up. They will organise a pick up date and time. On the day and time set, a driver will pickup the donation and transfer them to their warehouse. The service is free too! This explains why they are so popular among the expats.
Upon receiving donations, they will be sorted out by the team in the warehouse. This involves checking through all electronics and furniture to ensure that they are in working condition. The staff keeps aside certain essential products for families in need who cannot afford even the greatly reduced prices available at Second Chance.
Second Chance not only provides household necessities at a steep discount to those in need, they also provide skilled jobs to women making upcycled crafts.
The upcycled wares are situated on the second floor in a totally different atmosphere.
The Upcycling Boutique
Second Chance produces bags, banners for parties, soft toys, aprons, etc. It’s amazing that all these are made from donated clothings.
And of course they couldn’t have been made possible without the help of their creative local designers. In the sewing atelier, the ladies are cutting fabrics out from old jeans and clothes, pinning them, and patching the designers’ creation into reality. Some ladies work at home since they have their kids to take care of. Since they are paid per completed work, they could earn a living according to their available time.
Every fabric is neatly sorted out with similar colours and materials. Once the products are completed, they are transferred into another room where the stocks are counted and arranged for upcoming sales. Most of their items are sold in special fairs organised in schools or by established organisers around Bangkok.
Little was known about the founders of Second Chance Bangkok (not even on their official website). Most expats knew about the organisation through word of mouth when they’re moving or have decided to spring clean. They get the contact through firends, called Second Chance Bangkok to pick up their donation and that was it.
Here’s the little story of how it started:
In 2007, Chris and Jodie MacCartney , a couple from New Zealand arrived in Thailand and was bestowed the responsibilities from their foundation, UNOH (Urban Neighbours of Hope, a religious foundation in Australia) to guide andlead the team.
To truly understand the needs of the slum community, they decided to find a place in the slum and settled down together with their 3 girls, Grace, Ruby and Millie. And later with their adopted dog. Living in the slums allow them to build closer relationship with the locals and thus in 2009, Second 1Chance Bangkok was born.
The MacCartney Family
Although the MacCartney family has returned to New Zealand, Second Chance Bangkok is still going strong among the community
Knowing who you give
Over the past years living in Thailand,I was involved in helping out several different NGOs, I’ve learned to know that not all foundations practice what they say. Shady foundations that claimed to help slums. prisons, animals while founders drive Mercedes and own properties outside the countries are not an uncommon scene. Since then, I have been very careful on who to contribute and donate. It makes a huge difference on where our donations go to. But Second Chance Bangkok is one of the foundations that I believe making a positive impact in Thailand. And a genuine one.
Every donation from a samaritan is like a Christmas gift for the people in Klong Toey. Somehow the community are usually up to date with the donations. They always know when there is a new batch of donation that has been sorted out and ready to be release in the shop.
The fun part comes on the day when new stock are released. I happened to witness this myself on the day of my visit.
Second Chance Bangkok is clearly no stranger to the Klong Toey slum community. Apart from the founders living in the same area, their shops and the employment they have created, they are also involved in weekly activities every Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Kindergarten in Romklao community. They also make regular visits to the sick and old who needed attention and help.
If you have decided to stop your hoarding hobby and be the Santa Claus of Klong Toey, you can contact them at 02 249 1921 or through their facebook account.
But before you contact them for a pickup, to make things easier for them, please make sure you check on the list below what is accepted:
Musical instruments/music sheets
White goods in working order
Computers in working order
Electrical appliances in working order
Office equipment/Office furniture
*** They will not accept unusable or soiled items. Please dispose of such items thoughtfully.
Second Chance Bangkok welcomes with open arms volunteers who are willing to consecrate their time to the Klong Toey community. Whether you’re an individual, a community, a school or an organisation, kindly contact them for more details.
Georgi has lived in Thailand on & off for almost 7 years now. French, born and grownup in Singapore, she has always believed that sustainability is the solution for the future. Having lived in several developed countries, she devotes herself to create more awareness on simple sustainable lifestyle for Thai locals and foreigners living or visiting Thailand.