Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Barefoot gallery: Poverty of Tembari kids

A Friend of Tembari Children

BAREFOOT-walking is embedded in Papua New Guinean cultures, tracing its origin as far back the cave and jungle stage.

Even with the advent of a modernizing society which took a giant leap from the hunting stage, clueless as to whatever happened to the agricultural phase in the nation’s life, and plunging into the computer era, unaware of the industrial revolution through which nations of the world today have found their true bearings and relevance to societies across oceans and continents, barefoot-walking in this country has remained to be the order of the day.

But one thing for sure: It’s not fashion.

In the olden days when only jungle and bush paths allowed people to access another place outside of their exclusive domain, walking on bare feet was deemed most convenient. Walking with nothing worn, in short, was for sheer convenience and comfort.

You can see these walkers everywhere – in the villages, urban centers and cities. It’s a common sight at shopping centers and of course, work places, where so- called etiquette is always relegated to the deep background because it has no relevance to the person concerned or to what he is engaged with.

But these days, convenience or comfort could no longer be the reason for which individuals walk barefooted. With certainty, it is poverty.

I would not go far just to pursue my point.

At the Tembari children’s center, bare feet simply show that poverty is an everyday reality. It inhabits every child’s young life. It thrives in living color but presents the black-and-white of his day-to-day’s hardships.

A food line at The Center is one such graphic example.

The sight of a child being barefooted while waiting for a meal that he or she doesn’t find at home is heart-wringing.

And a pair of eyes that relishes on the good life would be scandalized.

But one day, The Center hopes to see our kids wearing at least a pair of thongs – everyday, not only during the days when they attend school -- to protect their soles, lift their spirits and offer them new hopes that their lives could also change for the better.

And to see them queuing for much-anticipated meal, no longer lacking in life’s barest necessity.

(The Tembari children center at ATS Oro Settlement, Seven-Mile outside of Port Moresby, is a halfway home for 83 orphans, abandoned and neglected children.)

Email the writer: alfredophernandez@thenational.com.pg

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