Friday, February 26, 2010

An opportunity to help

A friend of Tembari Children Care (TCC)Inc

IT IS easy to understand why certain individuals, in their own unique ways, would like to help those in need.
It is an opportunity for them, and they would like to do it because they have the opportunity to do so.

When I was asked why I helped somebody up to the point of using up all my lifetime savings, to the extent that I have been rendered broke for the next three years or so because of debts I have incurred, the best reason that I could give was: “I had the opportunity to do it.”

Although my willingness to help had stressed me up, the gesture has spared me from carrying a heavy heart later.
In most people, helping those in need is something that never comes to mind, and that is for a number of reasons. One of them could be that their minds have been preoccupied with something else more pressing that the whole process of laboring their minds on it has built a wall and blocked other things from entering their consciousness.

While this state of mind could persist, the spell could be broken easily with someone simply asking: “Would you like to help?”
It was only then, after hearing the explanation as to why they should help, that they realised they also wanted to help because, for them, it was an opportunity and that the chance of doing it is big.

It’s only that nobody had asked them before. I realised that the gestures of helping could come naturally to different individuals of different backgrounds with different sets of mind. While they may have reasons of their own for helping, the willingness to do so boils down to one thing: That they wanted to help because they have the opportunity to do so. And this opportunity is NOW here before them.

One Friday afternoon last week, while at the supermarket pushing a trolley heaping with goodies, I bumped into a long time acquaintance whom I haven’t seen for ages and who was surprised to see what I’ve gathered from the shelves.
“Hosting any party tomorrow?” was his surprised opening, to which I replied: “Sort of, but not really … ”

Then I explained: “I’m going to cook lunch meal for the kids in the orphanage tomorrow at the settlement and this foodstuff has been paid for, or shall I say, sponsored by somebody.”

I told him the “sponsor” for the Saturday feeding wanted the kids to enjoy a decent and nutritious lunch meal.

Then I told him a little story: These orphans survive daily by having only boiled banana, kawkaw, sliced bread with cheap tinned fish for lunch, washed down by flat-tasting colored- sweetened water four times a week – Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

There’s not much nutrition from what they eat although it would keep them up the whole day. I don’t think they have seen a glass of milk at all.

And at home, however, there’s no assurance for another meal like this for dinner, because their guardian parents, usually their grandparents, would not have a morsel to put on the table.

And when they wake up the next morning, there’s no assurance they could break the fast. The only food they could see is at lunch, courtesy of the orphanage.

“That’s terrible,” he said, and then asked me: ``When is the next feeding …? I would like to sponsor one Saturday feeding … just let me know when I could …”

CC Ang, the general manager of RH Hypermart, happened to read my story on the orphans in my weekly website column “Letters from Port Moresby”. He emailed me to say: “My family would like to sponsor tomorrow’s (Saturday) feeding … how do we go about it?”

Albert Rocero of Coral Investment, Maileen S Sulibit of peso remittance outfit Yes Ltd and a group of Filipinos with global contractor Red Sea Housing Construction Co now doing a big job at the PNG LNG project have each sponsored one Saturday meal. Likewise, a Filipino Sunday choir group has sent funds to support the Saturday soup kitchen.

John Villalba, a Filipino chemist with the Pacific Industries, bottlers of Cold Point cordial drinks, saw the pictures that came with another story I wrote on the orphans, showing how we struggled with the makeshift firewood stove while cooking lunch meal – an especially concocted soup.

“Here it is …” he told me when I came over to their plant to pick up a box of cordial drinks donated by his company: “Just give me a little time till I find a heavy duty LPG two-burner cooking stove … it will cook your soup faster.”

John and his wife Rachel eventually became a permanent one-Saturday-a-month sponsor of the feeding program.

John Whitfield, general manager of Port Moresby-based Pacific Towing Ltd, had also seen the same cooking stove fashioned from a junk crude oil drum. But his eyes were more focused on the pot sitting on the dirty stove.

He told me on the phone: “I would like to buy you a better and bigger pot so you can do your cooking easier …” He knew the pot he saw in the picture will not hold enough soup to cover 83 kids.

The next day, the lady receptionist at my workplace rang me up: A guy delivered today two huge pots and he told me they are for you …”

Rushing down to the reception hall, I saw two 30-liter cast aluminum pots sitting behind the counter. A small tag sticking on their sides boastfully announced the price: K265 (US$97) …!

Well, another good news is that Mr Whitfield’s company last month pledged a monthly grant of K400 (US$146) for one year to help improve the kids’ nutrition.

The National newspaper’s production manager Narasiman Muniandy has booked the second Saturday of every month as his feeding sponsorship. Actually, he is my housemate.

One Friday night, he was amused to see me slicing, chopping and sorting out vegetables in plastic packs and boiling chicken wings.

“Any party coming?” was all he could ask.

And I told him the same story about the feeding program being carried out daily by the Tembari Children’s Care (TCC) Inc (, and that this foodstuff would feed the orphans in the next day’s lunch session.

I told him the food had been sponsored by a Filipino couple who learned about the soup kitchen at the ATS Oro Settlement at 7 Mile, outside of Port Moresby.

“How much do I chip in for the especial Saturday meal … I want to have the second Saturday every month?”

Last Saturday, a Filipino manager with the Red Sea Housing Construction Co with jobs at the PNG LNG project named “Robert” sponsored the pumpkin-rice soup dish that I cooked. Funny, he wanted to sponsor three more Saturday feedings, saying that it’s his little way of “trying to go back to being a good person”.

Sometimes, little stories like this can move mountains. Would you believe that the especial Saturday feeding for March have been booked already, all because of my little story?

But don’t you worry -- you could still join, by co-sponsoring the feeding session with the Saturday’s holder. This way, you too could help boost the nutrition that each of the 83 orphans and abandoned kids would get from the food you buy for them.

It’s true. The especial Saturday feeding whose basic cost is K150 (US$55) won’t compensate for what the kids lose from poor meals served on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

But I can tell you it’s a good start for the kids; a good chance for everyone like you to help.

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