KOTA KINABALU: The spark that led to a growing community of benevolent givers started in 2017 when she went searching for a second-hand wheelchair for her daughter.
“I was hoping to buy a used wheelchair for my then 13-year-old daughter who has cerebral palsy because I could not afford a new one.
“But I was told by many people in Sabah that it was difficult to find a second-hand one, ” said Audrey Tunggolou.
The 43-year-old single mother of four trawled the Internet and found the Beli Nothing Project Klang page on social media.
“I contacted the admin and asked if they have wheelchairs to spare. I was willing to pay for it at a reduced price. But they told me that the group only gives out items for free, ” she said in an interview.
Audrey said the admin of the page, who goes by the Facebook name Tengku Tarence, promised to help her find a wheelchair.
Eventually, Tarence found not one, but several people who were willing to give away their wheelchair for free.
“I was so touched by their effort to help me, even though I am not from Klang. Coincidentally, I had matters to attend to in Kuala Lumpur at that time so I managed to collect the wheelchair, ” she said.
Audrey shared about her encounter with the families who were willing to part with something that had once belonged to a cherished loved one who had passed on.
It just showed that there were kind people in this world, she said.
“I wanted to bring that kind of culture back to Sabah so I asked Tarence if I can start the page here. He agreed, provided we stick to the same concept of giving out items for free, to make sure those who need them have them and to never sell what has been gifted, ” she said.
Now, the Facebook group – Beli Nothing Project Kota Kinabalu – which started on Jan 15,2018 has almost 5,000 members. Many people such as single mothers and those from lower income families had benefited from it.
Audrey said some people might find it hard to believe that there were those who were willing to give away their belongings for free.
However, she noted that this was not an uncommon practice in many places or countries.
“People just need to change their mindset that not everything is about making money. We need to care for the community. Today, you are helping someone but tomorrow, someone else could be helping you instead, ” she said, adding that the items available ranged from toys, household items, books and bags to even laptops and pianos.
She manages the page with her friends and family members such as Mazni Manjaji, Becky Chin-Wong and John Sebastian Tunggolou.
The page is moderated by Perry Lim, Rachel Chong, Daphne Lim, Hasalinda Noy Ismail, Violeta Beth Adang, Irene Choy, Neil Chan, Susan Yong, Stan Christian G. Puvok, Koh Syn and Asfarina Aznan.
“I am so blessed to have them here with me. They do this voluntarily, ” she said, adding that most of them also have day jobs while some are housewives.
She said they had to keep reminding members to offer stuff that could be reused or fixed. They must always be honest about the condition of their items, she added.
As for those who were looking for these products, she said they should be truthful about their needs and not looking to resell them.