KOTA KINABALU: There’s a saying that you can go a long way just by saying “thank you”.
This was literally the case for some 140 stateless children and their families, thanks to a community project called “Free Market” organised by the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Kota Kinabalu.
The JCI Kota Kinabalu flagship project was held at the Coalition Learning Centre for marginalised communities in Sabah’s southwest Kinarut area.
Project organising chairman Vincent Shini Ho said a free market was similar to a flea market, but instead of spending money to purchase the goods they wanted, individuals can get what they want for free.
“They only needed to say the word ‘thank you’ to receive the item they need for free,” he said in a statement here on Monday (March 27).
“The objectives of this initiative were to educate children the importance of expressing gratitude and appreciating what they have, as well as not taking things for granted.
“This project is also to show love and care for the stateless children and their families, while also improving their living conditions and giving them hope,” he added.
The stateless children and their families received groceries, essential items, used clothes, old books, toys, pillows as well as cash donations, among others.
Besides JCI Kota Kinabalu, these were also contributed by JCI Manila (Philippines), JCI Dayuan (Taiwan) and JCI City (Singapore) as well as four other local JCI clubs, namely JCI Luyang, JCI Tawau, JCI Lintasand JCI Moyog.
Private companies also supported the initiative, among them, Builders Emporium Sdn Bhd, QL Agrofood, Onaki Sdn Bhd, eNet Supply Sdn Bhd and Eurythmics Music and Art Centre.
Ho said the free market project was aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which included four goals - no poverty, zero hunger, quality education and peace, and justice and strong institutions.
He said they were also happy that Indonesia’s consul-general in Kota Kinabalu, Rafail Walangitan, attended the event and gave away the donations to the children.
He thanked the Coalition Learning Centre, a two-time sustainable development awards winner, which was under the care of Dr Kathryn Rivai for hosting the event.
“Nothing beats seeing the happiness on the children’s faces, absolutely priceless,” he said.
“We believe this project can help raise awareness about vulnerable groups besides giving them hope and improving their living conditions,” Ho added.