Monday, March 8, 2010

Manna from heaven

These are the eight bags of 20kg rice delivered to The Center by a surprise visitor last Saturday. He promised to make this a monthly donation to help the kids improve their health. Notice two cartons of cordial drink donated by Pacific Industries, maker of Gold Spot Cordial.

The jubilant kids hauling of their kaikai to a storage place inside their classroom. One thing sure is that they will now have rice meal at least five days a week.

These three pots are busy boiling special treats to the kids last Saturday. The first pot (foreground) is cooking special "misua" noodle soup; the middle pot is simmering with beef stew and the third pot is steaming with rice.

These moms are struggling to build strong fire to quickly boil the soup, the beef stew and the rice. A big fast-burning flame from a LPG stove should solve their problem. Attention donors who could provide the much-needed cooking LPG stove!

Volunteer moms ready their tools to serve the special Saturday lunch treat-- Beef Stew with lots of potatoes and carrots, "misua" noodle soup, steamed rice and cordial drink.

Children forming a long queue for the special lunch meal sponsored by individuals who would like to give them something different every Saturday.

Last Saturday's feeding gig was a special one for the kids as it was their first time in a long long time to enjoy a lunch meal of beef stew, noodle soup and steamed rice. - All pictures by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

A Friend of Tembari Children Care (TCC) Inc

IT WAS a rare occasion for the children at The Center during the feeding gig last Saturday.

The Menu of the Day: Beef stew, with lots of potatoes and carrots, “misua” soup, steamed rice and cordial drink.

An unexpected expatriate visitor arrived with his two young kids – a daughter and a son -- and delivered several boxes of ice cream-in-sticks to the orphans. Mind you, this was enough for the kids to go high as they flashed those smiles again in their faces.

Our visitors also came in full force with 130kg of Roots rice in eight 20k bags in tow.

Requesting not to be identified in this blog, our benefactor told me that he hoped the children would now have rice at least once a day – at lunch – five days a week -- that is from Monday to Friday -- for a total of 20 days in a month.

“I will deliver the stuff every month so the kids would not run out of stock,” he told me.

I never expected that the foodstuff, which I requested from him the day before, would materialize in less than 24 hours.

Seeing him at his office in Gordons on Friday afternoon last week, I told him that I would like to see the kids eat rice everyday and not just on Saturday when I cook for them the especial lunch treat.

I explained that we would need to cook 8kgs of grains every day, five days a week, to cover the lunch for the 83 kids.

In short, if they are to have a meal with rice at least once a day, we would need two 20kg bags of rice every week.

Our good friend made a little computation and said: “I got some friends in the grains trading business … I’ll see what I can do.”

For quite some time until last Friday afternoon, I have been looking for individuals who could be potential rice donors.

The kids have been unlucky not to have rice in their meals simply because The Center just doesn’t have enough funds to buy the foodstuff.

It could only afford to feed the children with kawkaw, sliced bread and greens and this happens four days a week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

But anyway, it is food, and those kids who arrive from various schools in Port Moresby at noon would always expect to have something to fill their grumbling tummy. And they go straight to The Center; they know there is nothing to find at home.

The same thing goes with the pre-schoolers at The Center who have to eat after their classes. They will eat anything – bread, kawkaw, boiled green banana, what have you.

But thanks to our especial Saturday feeding, the little ones could at least have rice at lunch when I cook for them especial meal that usually goes with rice, especial soup, vegetables and meat – a rare treat from kind-hearted individuals who paid for, or shall we say, sponsored, the special lunch.

With the rice delivery to be made once a month, all lunch meals on weekdays would now be amply covered.

From our grateful kids, a million thanks, Andre!

Incidentally, a work colleague has pledged to buy rice every week for the kids.

But since there is now enough rice for the whole month, we requested him to convert his donation into tinned fish, or tinned meat, so the children would have a daily supply of protein.

He also pledged to donate a huge water container as kitchen water is difficult to have at the settlement where the Tembari Children Center (TCC) Inc is based. Thanks TJ!

And what a luck! When we opened my email yesterday, a Sunday, one of the 145 emails that downloaded had this message:

“We have learned a lot about the children … we want to help out The Center with regular supply of frozen fish, our company being a fishing concern.

“This way, we could help improve the kids’ nutrition.”

The offer came from Thomas Kuo of High Energy Co Ltd, who said they could make the first delivery anytime.

They only would require a freezer to store the fish, an item The Center doesn’t have. First of all, it has no access to electricity, as the last power line post stopped a kilometer away.

I emailed back to thank him, and confessing to him that I could only take in at least 10kg at a time, a day before the Saturday cooking is to take place. That way, I could unfreeze the stuff overnight, and processed for cooking at The Center.

Also, last Friday, the Papua Niugini Freezers (PNF) in Gerehu district donated 20kg of meat products – beef cubes and chicken wings. PNF is looking at ways to make the donation a regular affair.

On Saturday, I made stew from the beef – Vanuatu beef to be exact -- which was really enjoyed by the kids because they ate it with a good serving of potato, carrots, rice and “misua” soup, and lots of cordial drink, courtesy of Pacific Industries, bottlers of Golden Spot Cordial drinks. Thanks John!

As to the box of 10kg of frozen chicken wings, I had to deposit it in a freezer at the Filipino-owned Yes Ltd mini-grocery in Gordon as I don’t have enough freezer space in my fridge at home. Thanks Madam Maileen!

Now that the regular rice and protein needs of the kids have been richly covered, we would like this time to see them drink milk at least once a week, maybe during a week day.

Milk is a complete food, that’s what nutritionists and doctors say, so it is really a must that they take this food at least once a week to supplement their daily rice-fish intake.

But to do this, we would require at least 20 liters (packs) of milk or a similar amount in powder form. One liter is enough to provide four or five kids with a glass of milk each. To cover the whole month, at least 80 packs of 1 liter would be needed.

Another good news is that Filipino businessman and immediate past president of the Filipino Association of PNG (FAPNG) Joey Sena is about to deliver to The Center two wheelie rubbish bins, something similar to that of what the NCDC uses in its sanitation program in the city.

The Center is also instilling the young minds of its ward about cleanliness in their surroundings, and the two rubbish bins would help a lot in achieving this.

The Center also needs about 50 plastic chairs for its pre-schoolers. Divided into three groups of 15, almost half of them would squat uncomfortably on the vinyl flooring during the entire class session.

We are now about to complete the ID tags of the kids, volunteer teachers and moms. We would like to request from potential donors for at least 100 pieces of lanyards or ID tag hooks-laces which the kids would carry while at The Center. It would cost us more than K100 to get them, an amount which we still can ill-afford. Corporate donors may print their company logo in the lanyards.

These are the immediate needs, so far.

Certain individuals react to this kind of appeal with urgency, and when they do, they see to it that something concrete turns out. Take the case of our rice donor, who responded in less than 24 hours after we told him the story of the little ones.

But there’s somebody in the US who, like a lightning flash, responded to an earlier appeal for a second-hand laptop.

When Rishabh, TCC’s Founder and Co-President (who himself is studying in the US) posted an appeal, David Ulg Ketepa of Detroit, Michigan emailed to him, saying he’s sending his one-year old laptop which is just sitting somewhere in the house, along with a digi-camera and blank CDs.

Penny, The Center’s co-founder and Co-president, badly needs a laptop in preparing the individual profiles of the kids – and they are 83 of them. Right now, she does it manually – meaning writing the evaluation paper by longhand.

Well, things are looking up for our kids at The Center.

We would not call it a success this early, as it could only be like a “flash” in a pan, which we pray hard was not. But many of those who came forward to help would like to see The Center succeed. Its success is theirs, too.

But what we can say is that we at The Center are gradually meeting the nutritional needs of the children – from just a lunch of kawkaw and sliced bread four times a week to partial rice lunch meals with tinned fish, meat and more.

We are also meeting their emotional needs of being wanted and loved, and cared for with selflessness by our benefactors.

Our Saturday feeding is drawing enthusiasms from individual sponsors, who also wanted to help improve the health of the children, just like they would do their own children.

With that, the money they chipped in is, for sure, money well spent. There’s no way that they could lose because it is not gambling; it is helping.

In helping, there’s no way to lose, but instead, you earn some credits for your entry to Heaven one day along with a 24-hour special pass to the hearts of our kids.

It’s a win-win bonanza for all!

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