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Thai Catholics put old ’junk’ to good use

Repaired goods sold cheaply to low-income families while income feeds the poor

Useful unwanted items at COERR Recycle’s office in Sam Phran Useful unwanted items at COERR Recycle’s office in Sam Phran
  • Panithan Kitsakul, Sam Phran
  • Thailand
  • January 12, 2011
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Discarded furniture, electronic equipment, clothes and toys are providing cash to feed poor children, help poor families and assist natural disaster victims.

“COERR Recycle," an offshoot project of COERR - the Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Refugees - has since 2004 been collecting various used items from homes, schools and offices.

“We collect and repair furniture and electronic products such as computers, and sell them cheaply,” said COERR Recycle chaplain Father Anucha Chaowpraeknoi.

The goods are sold to low-income families every Sunday at COERR Recycle’s office in Sam Phran district, west of Bangkok.

Recycled rice cookers, fans, computers, used clothes, tables and chairs are among the goods sold for very low prices.

“A recycled television goes for 300-500 baht (about US$10-16), a used computer for 2,500-3,000 baht, a used children’s desk and chair set for 30 baht and used clothing such as a shirt sells for 10 baht a piece,” said Fon, COERR Recycle secretary.

Suchart Pakpo, a customer, told ucanews.com that he saved a lot of money from buying cheap recycled household items.

Every month the Church group earns about 50,000 baht from the sales. The money is used to manage lunch programs for poor students, repair damaged houses for the poor and support people affected by floods as in Nakhon Ratchasima province recently.

Father Anucha said besides selling recycled goods, they also give away some donated goods, toys in particular.

“We get plenty of used toys that are still in good condition. We take them to children in remote border or hill tribe areas,” he said.

COERR Recycle has a team of about 20 volunteers. The volunteers, some of whom are handymen and technicians, help collect donated goods throughout the country, repair and then sell them on Sundays.

“Last year COERR Recycle came to repair my house. I was inspired by its mission and became a volunteer,” volunteer Kannika Kattha, a kindergarten school assistant, told ucanews.com.

They sent me to learn about computer repairs and now I am in charge of repairing used computers that people donate to us, she said.

COERR was established by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand (CBCT) in 1978 as a non-profit organization to provide relief to natural disaster victims, refugees and displaced persons, the poor and vulnerable Thai individuals.

COERR operates under the concept of love and serving all fellowmen on the basis of humanity without bias in race, religion, gender or political ideology.

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