Friday, March 19, 2010

Rare visitor at The Center

American flight stewardess Diane McLea sorts out goodies in one of the seven luggages she brought in to The Center while Penny Sagembo (left), volunteer mothers and the children look on.

Diane(right) and Penny and her young son pose beside the many stuffs that the American visitor brought for the kids.

Penny proudly shows off a brand-new laptop gift from a good friend of Diane, Dr Younan of Florida.

Diane receives from Penny a PNG pottery item as token of appreciation from the Tembari kids. The visitor also received a unique shell necklace from her hosts.

Diane joins the kids in a photo for posterity shortly before she returned to the city on Thursday.

Diane, with journalist and Tembari Children's friend Alfredo P Hernandez in a picture taken atop a Port Moresby hill where one can see the panoramic view of POM harbor.

Rare visitor at The Center

A Friend of Tembari Children

LAST Thursday, we had a rare visitor in the person of Diane McLea, of Miami, Florida, USA.

She flew into Port Moresby the night before for a quick visit of the city.

Diane, 41, works as air hostess and she’s been in the business for over 20 years now, starting her career when she had a training sojourn at 17 in air hosting in Makati City, Metro Manila. Later, the city became her temporary home.

(No wonder she picked out my accent quickly when I spoke with her for the first time).

Before she joined her current employer, she worked a number of years as air hostess for a Kuwaiti Royal family.

Now, with only a few hours left in her less-than-24-hour-stay in this burgeoning city of POM, Diane made it a point to accomplish her own agenda for coming:

To travel to the ATS Oro Settlement at 7-Mile outside of Port Moresby and say “hello” to the kids of Tembari Children Care (TCC).

With her in tow are goodies which she promised me in her email just hours before she took off for her POM trip.

Stuffed in seven pieces of luggage, the goodies included a few week supplies of powder milk, medical and healthcare items, footwear, clothing, chocolate bars and a lot more.

All were donated by her friends back in the US.

But Diane had a rare present to Penny Sagembo, the founder and coordinator of TCC, and of course, The Center’s matriarch – a brand new (laptop) notebook Asus Eee PC donated by one of her friends in the US. He also sent cash in US currency for The Center’s miscellaneous expenses.

This friend of hers, Dr Younan of Florida, has a passion for helping people, Diane said.

As token of the kids’ appreciation, The Center presented her a unique shell necklace and a PNG-motif ceramic vase. Possessing such a unique ceramic work made Diane so ecstatic.

Several days ago, I posted on this blogsite about Penny’s wish to use a laptop in profiling the 83 kids now under the care of The Center, a tough job that proved impractical handwriting the individual kiddy assessment.

Diane actually has beaten to the mark another benefactor of TCC -- David Ulg Ketepa of Michigan, USA -- who was about to DHL a laptop he has retired after upgrading to a new model.

Now, our friend David has to convert that laptop into more exciting goodies for the pleasure of our kids.

“I wish I could stay for another two hours with the kids,” Diane told Penny, while the kids were singing a welcome song in pidgin.

But she had another pressing errand in the city and had to take her leave quickly as her time was running out.

“They’re just lovely … I will miss them,” she said, now getting a bit emotional.

“Please get me pictures with them,” she told me, handing to me her sleek camera.

She learned of The Center’s orphanage on the Internet just last week when she was preparing for her latest trip.

She was surfing for care groups based overseas which she could visit one day during her job-related flying.

And she’s already tired of refugee camps, those highly-organized camps in South Africa, and wanted something small where she could interact more personally, with tender loving care.

She googled “orphanage” and presto, the first item that popped on her screen was Tembari Children Care (TCC) Inc. … Papua New Guinea!

And just to think that she was flying into this country in just a matter of days! She really couldn’t believe her luck.

“I was quite excited but anxious, and seeing those kids in pictures while they ate their meals and smiled on camera, I felt my heart melted … yes! I’m going to see them …”

The next thing she knew was that she was calling friends in the US, like Kubb Lalchandani, Dr Younan of Florida, Mike Gerber and Nancy Freitus, Mr and Mrs R, Ron Ruthledge among others. She told them of her rare discovery and what she wanted to do for them.

Taking the hint, her friends immediately put together various stuffs which comprised the goodies that she handed out to the kids last Thursday.

“Now, I know what to do when I travel … I would be telling my friends in those countries about “my kids” in PNG … this way, they could expect more help not only from me.”

Shortly after reading all my articles on blogsite about The Center’s activities, she emailed me about her soon-to-come quickie trip to PNG and of her wish to see the Tembari kids as soon as she arrived.

I hastily made such arrangements.

Last Thursday, all of us – the children, volunteer- moms and volunteer teachers, Penny, TCC chairman Hayward Sagembo, and me – were on Cloud nine for having with us a new friend and benefactor in Diane McLea.

On Friday morning from Australia where she’s having another sojourn, she emailed me: “It was a wonderful experience and I hope to return soon and have the opportunity to spend more time with the children.”

We love you Diane!

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