Malaysia's Free Market spreads the joy of giving to the needy

BUTTERWORTH: People came by the hundreds, they queued up, they saw what they liked and they had it for free. It was the Free Market.

Goods, ranging from clothing, school study material, dried and canned food items, and even food and drinks were all available at the 70-odd stalls at the compound of the Abdul Kadir Mosque in Jalan Telaga Air here.

Those who gave it all away were happy, much less those who obtained it.

Jointly organised by Think City, Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) and Persatuan Kebajikan Squad Senyum, the event was aimed at spreading kindness, fostering unity and preventing wastage.

Think City programme director Murali Ram said all the items given away were from public contributions and organisations.

"Many individuals went about collecting items for the needy and then came here to give them away.

"Several companies also came forward to distribute everyday items during the event.

"We had to set up about 70 stalls to accommodate the contributors and their efforts are most commendable," she said at the event yesterday.

"This is the first Free Market we are holding here in Butterworth and like other Free Markets elsewhere, it is a success."

Think City programme executive Kartina Mohamed said organisers had to control the crowd from entering the mosque compound due to the overwhelming response.

Among the crowd was visually impaired Rahima Bee Abu Bakar, 60, from Sungai Dua. She heard about the event from friends and pestered her daughter Intan Mansor, 34, to take her there.

"We managed to collect some clothing and some food items," Rahima said.

Norsarizam Mohd Noor, 36, from Tasek Gelugor, came just to see what was happening.

"I was curious about how things work here when I heard that Free Market is a place where the public can give and take anything that is available, for free."

Meanwhile, 63-year-old contributor Jorina Johari said she gave away clothes.

"Some were from my own family but I also went around collecting clothes, both used and unused, from relatives and friends.

"It was satisfying to see those in need collecting the clothes I brought," she said.

Abdullah Yahaya, 29, from Gurun, Kedah, gave away six sacks of clothing as well as school exercise workbooks.

"Though the books are used ones, they will benefit other students," he said.

Azeli Ali, 38, from Seberang Jaya, brought 120 packets of coffee powder, 50 packets of 2kg rice and clothing.

He said he had contributed to many Free Market events, including those held in Taiping, Teluk Kumbar and Parit Buntar.

There were also drinks such as teh tarik and various kinds of food available for free during the event, which was held from 9am to noon.