Michael Zeeng is a fixer, if he can fix it he will. Fate has led him to fix toys in Port Phillip. He comes from a generation that valued items until they were fixable no more (and even then he’d have a good go).
One day as he strolled past a childcare centre a young boy dropped a toy that rolled through the fence and landed at his feet. He noticed the boy was signing to his carer and so he joined the conversation, offering to fix the faulty toy without opening his mouth.
Ever since that day Michael visits the centre each week and leaves with a bounty of broken toys. He is also the toy fixer for the City of Port Phillip’s four toy libraries, teaches disengaged school children woodwork skills, a committed scout leader and proud member of Port Phillip Men’s Shed. .
All voluntary. All working with kids. Why? “I enjoy their company. I love their energy and curiosity”. He is like a children magnet, they are drawn to him, they can sense there’s a big kid in there too.
His work is exhibited at Port Phillip schools, childcare centres and toy libraries; a mended shelf here, a fixed train set there. It’s also evident in the growth of the children he works with; whether it’s the kids that feel school isn’t for them but woodwork is or the young scouts eager to impress in the hunt for a new badge.
Michael is also a gatherer; procuring abandoned pieces of timber, old pallets and unwanted furniture and giving them a new life. Why dispose of something that can be reimagined or fixed? Over the years this approach has diverted many kilograms of unwanted, unloved items from finding their way to landfill.
And so, on behalf of all the children whose lives you have impacted, Michael Zeeng we salute you. Every community needs a fixer, people who are willing to give up their time and skills to improve the lives of others.