Wednesday, March 31, 2010

PNG Children’s Foundation helps TCC

Penny Sagembo, The Center's founder and matriarch, tells the children that they will have a new set of three teachers soon. The previous teachers had walked out after they were not paid fortnightly allowance of K50 each. The Center did not have enough to cover this expense.

Ivan Lu, executive director of RH (PNG) Group, gestures after learning that the Learning Center (CL) seen in the background which serves as the pre-school children's classroom costs K15,000. RH Foundation, which is helping the Tembari children, is looking at providing another of this classroom to accommodate the third batch of 15 pre-schoolers. The two CLCs at The Center were donated by Digicel Foundation.

These kids gather inside their classroom to browse their book readers and to chat. On this day, they had no class as their teacher walked out after being unable to collect her fortnightly allowance of K50.

Kids and their guardians wait for Saturday's special lunch to be served. The ingredients used for the meal were sponsored by a supporter who shelled out at least K150 to provide The Center's 83 children a special lunch of meat, rice, soup and cordial drink. Every Saturday lunch is being sponsored by different individuals.- All pictures by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

A Friend Of Tembari Children

SOMETIME ago, the 40 or so pre-school age kids at The Center were abandoned by their teachers.

Reason: The Center was unable to pay their fortnightly allowances of K50 in exchange of tutoring the three classes on alphabets and numbers.

The Center just did not have cash to pay the three teachers their allowances which cost K300 a month.

Hayward Sagembo, the president of the Tembari Children Care (TCC) center, had pleaded long enough for the three women-teachers to come back to The Center.

The 40-45 children who made up three classes had already missed a lot since they walked out and disappeared.

“I promised them that once money is raised, we could pay whatever we owed them,” says desperate Hayward.

He told me that the walk-away teachers are also from the community – the ATS Oro Settlement at Seven Mile outside of Port Moresby – so they should help in looking after the kids who are also from the this place.

The teachers, on the other hand, reasoned out they also had to spend in coming to The Center, that’s why they requested for the fortnightly stipend.

They made the request middle of last year but had been unable to collect most of the time. Early this year, they decided to walk out.

For what it’s worth, the teachers had a point – the rising cost of living is being compounded by their need to spend some on PMV fares and all.

Hayward said that the little money TCC has was being prioritized for the daily feeding of the children, who, that time, numbered 78.

“Three-hundred kina for the teachers’ allowances is quite a burden on us, since we have to make do with the K400 grant we receive every month from We!Care PNG to feed the kids,” he said.

Until a few weeks ago, the kids were only being served lunch four times a week. Lunch meant a slice or two of bread, kawkaw and cordial drink.

Learning about the allowance issue, I talked to some friends who would care to listen, with no results, except that some had chipped in cash for my especial Saturday feeding.

“I would like to help in my small way,” said one of my friends, who shelled out K150 to cover the cost of the food that I was to cook for the kids that Saturday.

A few days ago, while at the supermarket gathering the ingredients for the next Saturday’s cooking (which I do at The Center with help from volunteer mothers), I bumped into an old friend, my very good friend Nene Sta Cruz, a Port Moresby old-timer.

I haven’t seen her in ages, so we had a long “how’s the weather” chat in one corner of the supermarket until I told her about my present “hobby” – that is looking for people who would care to support the Tembari children.

I told her about our problem paying for the allowances of the volunteer-teachers.

Immediately, she popped the idea: Why not ask Yiannis (Nicolaou of Lamana Hotel) … he is the president of the PNG Children’s Foundation.

Yiannis and Nene are close buddies and they work together doing charity works.

The PNGCF is the benefactor of the home for the abandoned kids which Nene looks after.

“Tell him your problem … who knows?” she told me.

Last week, I decided to email Yiannis and asked him if his foundation would be able to help.

Last night, Nene called me at my work place to break the news that Yiannis, after consulting with her, approved my request.

His decision to help the Tembari kids came a day after he read my email.

The PNG Children’s Foundation will pay for the allowances of our newly-recruited three volunteer teachers for at least one year.

Informed of the good news, Penny Sagembo, founder of The Center, was elated, knowing that there would be no more interruption in the learning process of our beneficiary children.

Two weeks ago, we recruited and engaged the services of three volunteer teachers – two females and one male – with a promise of a K50 allowance for each a fortnight, without actually knowing where we could source the money.

We were concerned about the children being less productive every day in their classrooms, just browsing on their book readers and trying to operate a pencil.

For all you know, Penny and Hayward were banking on me to hit another strike on this one as what they have been doing since I popped into their lives.

So far, I have not failed them – yet.

And now, funds finally came.

So, the children are back in their classrooms for good five days a week, four hours a day, learning the three “Rs” – reading, writing, and (a)rithmetic.

Thanks a million to Yiannis, Nene and the PNG Children’s Foundation --- from the Tembari children.

Personally, I would like to thank Yiannis and Nene for greatly relieving us – the TCC overseers – of some critical funding constraints.

Thank you, guys!

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