I want to be a handy man!

Our Repair Coach volunteers are a bright, friendly bunch. And perhaps the brightest and friendliest of the lot is Seth, who was drawn to the idea of volunteering for Repair Kopitiam after discovering the Sustainable Living Labs website on the internet by chance.

“When I first read about it, I thought that it sounded like a refreshing idea with mass appeal. It was born out of a European concept and I thought that it could have a place here in Singapore. I thought, why not? Sounds like a fun thing to do. Like most people my age, in our 20s, I have also always felt guilty about throwing perfectly usable things away. Plus, I handy with my hands and I know my way around tools, since my work is in the construction business.”

So Seth turned up for one of our Sunday Maker Mornings session, held at the National Design Centre in Bugis and where Repair Coaches will be when a Repair Kopitiam is not scheduled. He had expected a simple setup, focused on making straightforward repairs. It turned out to be a lot more than what he had expected it to be.

“I thought I would be doing uncomplicated things like fixing nuts, drilling screws and hammering nails. I was blown away by the professional setup and that everyone here, particularly Veera, is a mountain of solutions, who can take a look at something and think of half a dozen ways to approach and fix it. Volunteering here has really opened the horizons of what I used to think could be repaired.”

“It’s been really rewarding too! I’m used to wood and metal work, so that I know. With the other stations here, I’ve also been exposed to other areas like sewing and appliances. I learnt how to use a sewing machine for the first time here! And I sewed my name in my Repair Kopitiam apron, which we wear whenever one is in session. Everyone here has their different strengths and such. Some are quieter and focused on the work; some are happier interacting with people and imparting knowledge. It really is quite rewarding and I hope that a lot of that energy will feed off the people that we meet during our sessions.”

Energy keeps Seth going, so it’s natural that his favourite moments of Repair Kopitiam are the ones that tap into collaborative effort, where multiple stations gather to solve a repair. Like the little girl whose bicycle seat had broken – Home improvement made a new seat base out of wood, while Fabric Repair fashioned a cushion seat out of foam and one of the girl’s old dresses. Or when both stations worked together to spruce up a worn and torn office chair.

“I really like that what we are doing here is a sum of multiple efforts and a product of our enthusiasm. Repair Kopitiam in Singapore is definitely still in its infant stages, but the sheer zeal that we have here will get the momentum going. I’m glad that I’m along for the ride.”