Four years ago, my father Albert Kiang passed away. He was the ultimate Mr. Fix It, whether it was cars, computers or electronics. He was always tinkering away.
When he died, the grief I felt spurred a deepened faith in God. So as I reflect on the recent Repair Café event that was held at my church, I realized the space where our event was held was called Albert Hall, coincidentally the same name as my dad’s. I felt God’s hand working in my life.
Environmental stewardship, serving others, building community: these were some of the things that came out of the Repair Café on April 21, 2018, at Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church.
The Repair Café is a grassroots organization co-founded by Wai Chu Cheng, Fern Mosoff and Paul Magder back in 2013. What began with 10 fixers, quickly blossomed into monthly repair cafés at the city’s various public libraries and mini repair cafés at local community spaces.
To celebrate Earth Day, people from all over the city came together at the church for a common cause: to learn how to fix items that otherwise would have been sent to the landfill, and to build community. Over the course of the four-hour event, there were 85 visitors and 95 items were fixed. These items ranged from coffee makers, small electronics such as laptops, and books, to jewelry, clothing and bicycles. All free of cost to the visitors.
There was such a positive vibe at the Repair Café. Everytime something got fixed, a bell would ring, followed by applause. There was a genuine feeling of people helping people and people helping the environment.
God has asked us to be good stewards and to take care of the resources he has blessed us with. And he asked us to walk with our neighbours and to help one another. This was a beautiful testimony to that fact.
Dan and Erin paint the Repair Café trailer outside the Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church. (Photo by Frank McKinney)
Five-year-old Summer watches volunteer fixer Bennett McCardle fix the broken clasp on her purse that her grandma gave her. (Photo by Julie Trinh)
Jason Yuen watches as volunteer fixer Kenny Fong examines a broken bathroom scale. (Photo by Sandy Yuen)