Second Chance Bangkok is an op shop with a difference. Run by a family from Australia and located on the edge of the infamous Klong Toei slum (Thailand’s largest, population 120 000), the op shop has arranged to receive surplus clothing from the many ex-pat workers who are employed in Bangkok on short-term contracts.
Instead of shipping their wardrobe home, they donate it to Second Chance. The op shop sells the quality garments to people from the slums, at virtually no cost, so the buyers can resell them in the many markets around Bangkok. Second Chance also practises “upcycling” which involves training people to take jeans and suits, which no one in a tropical slum is inclined to wear, and turn them into creative bunting, soft toys, handbags and other fashion items.
This ordinary Australian family, living in the slum themselves and fuelled by the compassion of Christ, now employs dozens of workers in their thriving business and supports the income of hundreds of others through their ingenious redistribution of goods. The daily opening of Second Chance is literally like a Boxing Day sale. Hundreds queue for hours beforehand to make their purchases for resale.
The Activate team from Trinity College Queensland’s Gap Year Program recently returned from their short-term mission exposure trip to Thailand. There, amongst many other experiences, we were hosted by three young Thai women at Second Chance.
These three were effectively running Second Chance. All had tertiary qualifications. All were capable. And all had grown up in Klong Toei slum. Their lives had been transformed by others investing in them. Now they were committed to lifting others out of desperate circumstances by offering hope.
There are two things here that we might ponder. Older people, are you proactively investing in the next generation?
Taking a genuine, empowering interest in a young person’s life is so simple. Offer some encouragement, listen without critique, bear with their failures, affirm wherever you can. Small things often have a disproportionate influence in helping others transcend their circumstances.
Younger people, have you given up? Do things seem hopeless? They aren’t!
God is a God of second chances and likes nothing more than to redeem discarded things or, more importantly, discarded people. This is Jesus’ major agenda. If you feel broken, you are a prime candidate to receive God’s gracious yet strong, transforming love. Hope is literally just one prayer away.
This article was first published in the summer edition of Journey magazine.