Lifestyle

Don't Throw Away Your Broken Gadgets—This M'sian Will Teach You How To Fix Them For Free

  • KakiRepair is an extension of the popular KakiDIY website that posts DIY and ideas to fix things.
  • It’s a free movement that wants to encourage Malaysians to fix their things instead of buying new ones. 
  • KakiRepairs are conducted in a roaming MakerVan equipped and modified with DIY essentials. 

As someone who runs a website dedicated to doing DIYs, Johnson Lam has seen his share of DIY procrastination in his time.

Just like people who share recipe videos on Facebook without ever actually cooking them, the same applies to DIY.

Potential DIYers either can’t find the time to do it, don’t have the equipment/location to fix it,  don’t know how to repair things, and other common setbacks that prevent them from taking full advantage of their existing items.

So as a DIY advocate and enthusiast, Johnson decided that this is something to fix.

Enter KakiRepair, a movement started to encourage self-repair.

Johnson at a KakiRepair event / Image Credit: KakiRepair

Roaming around in a modified van, Johnson drives across Malaysia to eliminate the DIY entry barrier by conducting face-to-face classes—absolutely free.

KakiRepair encourages people to fix their broken stuff instead of just throwing them away. Eventually, he hopes that the movement will gain a life of its own without a need for his intervention, but for now he still takes an active role in each session.

Johnson has been making his way across both Klang Valley and Penang over the past 8 months to help inspire more DIYers.

This is all done on what the Johnson calls their MakerVan—a remodeled 1995 Mitsubishi Delica. It was fixed to have the basic fittings of a mobile maker space, with Johnson personally DIY-ing a few attachments to organise tools.

The MakerVan / Image Credit: KakiRepair

The MakerVan even has a solar-powered system so that it can run off-grid.

“I am also very fortunate to have some sponsors to get it filled, including a special 12V 3D printer specially made for the MakerVan by MyCro Engineering (a startup in the KakiDIY Community) and some power tools sponsored by Dremel Malaysia.”

What can you fix at a KakiRepair? Pretty much anything.

Image Credit: KakiRepair

To join, participants need to fill up an Eventbrite form, and on the day, bring anything that “you can carry with you to the location”.

That means no 2-tiered fridges or yachts anytime soon.

Instead, users are encouraged to bring everything such as a malfunctioning iron, a toy with a broken joint, a faulty smartphone, clothes that need resizing, and even curious junkyard discoveries that may need a touch up.

“From the online registration, we would have known what are the items people are bringing in and who are our volunteers. KakiRepair is usually a 4-hour session, lots of diagnosing and discussion,” said Johnson.

A popular class was the Electronic Edition, based on popular demand because a lot of people have a surplus of electronics that need repairing.

And it all began with a forum.

In the beginning, Johnson Lam was simply an active contributor to DIY forums. Then the internet changes struck.

“As forums slowly died, my hundreds of articles went with it as well. So I created KakiDIY as a blog and Facebook page to post my DIY articles on,” said Johnson.

In fact, volunteers for the KakiRepair project are all from KakiDIY’s forums.

The idea for KakiRepair came about as an extension to KakiDIY.

“KakiRepair is totally powered by the community,” said Johnson, who is happy to report that each class so far has been completely filled.

“Volunteers come to help diagnose and teach repair skills. Some brought tools to share and space owners sponsor us their locations to host the KakiRepair sessions.”

“Basically I realised that before someone can have the ability to solve problems by inventing something, they needed to start from the grassroots,” said Johnson.

This includes the skill to diagnose, the knowledge of tools, and the know-how on repairing things.

“So basically I took a step back and realised that if I wanted to successfully inspire communities to make things, KakiRepair is the starting point,” said Johnson.

After KakiRepair, he hopes that participants can move on to creating things, inventing things, innovating and solving problems—which can be enriched and supplied by the KakiDIY side of the Kaki coin.

So far, they’ve seen a promising 50:50 ratio of people with things to repair, and volunteers to teach them how.

Image Credit: KakiRepair

“Only 30% of the items are repaired for all the KakiRepair Sessions, but 100% learned something new. That’s good enough metric for me,” said Johnson.

Instead of just spreading among KakiDIY followers, Johnson is happy to report that most of the signups are new people who stumbled into their Eventbrite or Facebook posts through social media.

KakiRepair gets attention—but not much support. 

Johnson is proud that the movement is run by the community, but, “We do accept donations to keep this movement running. However, Malaysians are not so accustomed to donations I guess.”

In their 8 months of running KakiRepair, Johnson has only seen a total of RM50 of donations and a few appliances given once they are fixed.

“To put it to scale, we repaired a total of more than RM10,000 worth of stuff in that duration,” said Johnson.

Nevertheless, KakiRepair will march on. In fact, KakiRepair will be building the MakerVan 2.0 soon.

“It will still be using a second-hand van, but a larger grand touring one to fit more furniture and things,” said Johnson.

A Repair Center is in the works as well—a commercial arm that will launch in March. However, Johnson aims for this to be separate from KakiRepair, which will always be free.

In a country that can’t even put their recyclables aside on garbage day, a movement towards reusing and recycling is a very necessary.

At the very least, KakiRepair’s brief tour indicates that there’s a lot of interest towards recycling the often expensive electronics—meaning that Malaysia might embark on a recycling campaign slightly different than the norm

But as those who grew up watching Art Attack can tell you, there’s a small part of us that enjoys hands-on recycling projects. So this might just be the right way forward, for now.

  • You can find KakiDIY here and KakiRepair here.

 

 

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