These kids are not at a party. They’re just relaxing while waiting to be served their lunch last Saturday. Background shows their classroom.
Children having a grand time at the dining table while waiting for their lunch. This time, they no longer have to queue for food as it is being served to them right on the table.
Kids at the dining table as they enjoy a special Saturday lunch of deep fried mackerel stewed in fresh chopped tomato-egg gravy, sauted bellfruit veggie and minced beef, mackerel head sour soup with malunggay leaves, cordial drinks and fresh milk. The Saturday lunch was sponsored by two supporters who chipped in K150 each.
Melanie, 8 (in red shirt), briefly poses for camera, before resuming her lunch.
Assistant cooking volunteers tending to two pots of rice (left) and mackerel dish.
Volunteer mom blows hard into the embers to make fire.
Assistant cooking volunteer Shalotte struggles with 10kgs of steaming rice.
Volunteer moms preparing to serve lunch of the day.
Volunteer mother serves fresh milk to excited children.
Children look at the enlarged pictures of their generous benefactors displayed on The Center’s bulletin board. One picture shows the Malaysian High Commissioner presenting a K15,000 cheque to Hayward Sagembo, TCC Co-Founder and Director.
Melanie, 8, timidly looks at the camera, with her thick fresh milk moustache.
Kids play with their building blocks while waiting for lunch.
Penny leads the kids in saying Grace before lunch is served.
A volunteer allots fresh milk to each of the tin cups.
Penny Sagembo, The Center’s Co-Founder and Co-President, interviews new entrants to The Center for their profile record. Today, TCC has 83 registered beneficiary-children who are benefiting from The Center’s services like feeding and education program. – All pictures by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ
By ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ
A Friend of Tembari Children
TO OUR BENEFACTORS:
FINALLY, we have achieved a hundred percent improvement in the feeding set up at The Center.
Where before our beneficiary-children waited in a long queue for their meal, they now instead waited at makeshift dining tables for food to be served – just like in dining halls or restaurants.
Indeed, we have eliminated that heartbreaking scene of food lines in a soup kitchen like ours.
This is no doubt welcome news for our generous benefactors who have unyielding belief that The Center would one day succeed in improving the lives of its 83 beneficiary children.
That’s why they continue to give.
Eliminating the food line physically is one good start. In the subconscious of each of our kids, it was a long chain that had kept them bound to their poverty and made their lives miserable each day.
Since 2003, when the Tembari Children Care center was founded, by Rishabh Bhandari, Penny Sagembo and Hayward Sagembo, until just a few days ago, the food line and its sad air had become a permanent fixture.
The kids used to be in long queue, their heads craning towards where the pots of steaming dish sat on a makeshift table, and obviously hungry, if not extremely famished.We had pledged to ourselves that we would change this picture for the better one day.
This is one reason we have never stopped looking for people who would give The Center money, food, materials, facilities and other forms of assistance so it could effect positive change in the children’s day to day living.
And to make sure that those who gave one way or the other would never stop giving till they bleed.
For we know that there were many generous souls out there who were looking for opportunities to help. And they are now looking at the Tembari kids as an opportunity.
Well, the first visible change came just a few days ago.
What has taken over this scene is a picture of kids nestled in their respective chairs at the dining table, merrily engaged in kiddy chatters and endless bantering with one another, while volunteer moms happily prepared their meals in individual bowls – rice, especially prepared Filipino dish – and cordial drinks and fresh milk.
As always, during my Saturday cooking-and-feeding session, cooking volunteer moms are always in high spirits, knowing that the food they would be serving to the kids shortly is another special treat.
Would you believe that for a long, long time on weekdays that is from Monday to Friday, they would normally have rice and tinned fish and veggies.
And even before this, they only had lunch four times a week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, making do with just kaukau, sliced bread and cordial drinks.
And they did not sit at dining tables while they ate their food, but squatted on the floor of their classrooms, or on the ground topped only with anything like floor mats or old newspapers to protect them from dust and dirt.
Things have changed for the better for our kids.
So everybody looks forward to my Saturday cooking, where the ingredients and materials that go into this special dish are sponsored by individuals who wanted to give the kids something different for a lunch meal on Saturdays.
Each co-sponsor for a Saturday feeding happily chipped in a minimum of K150 each. Some would give more to allow me to cook more food to the kids.
In fact, this is how our dining scene should be!
It was something that immediately struck me last Saturday as soon as I saw our kids happily seated and waiting for the meal and soup of the day.
And I likened this scene to those jolly kids I saw at a Wendy’s, MacDonald’s or Jollibee’s fast-food restaurant in an upscale shopping mall in Metro Manila while devouring delicious snacks and soda drinks.
We had thought of doing this long time ago because we knew how it was to be in a food line --- hungry and speculating on what meal to come next for the day.
But banishing the food queue became possible only just a few days ago.
When RH Foundation delivered recently the 40 or so kiddy chairs that that we requested sometime last March through my good friend Dinolla Tion, the foundation’s PR officer,Our request for the said kiddy chairs was actually intended for use in the classrooms. But as we asked, the idea popped in the mind of Hayward Sagembo, TCC’s Co-Founder and Director; that we could use these chairs for class rooms as well as alongside the dining table. So, these days, the chairs are working double time as classroom and dining chairs.
On the other hand, Rishabh Bhandari, TCC’s Founder and Co-President, contacted a few of his contacts and one of them donated a few sheets of plywood’s, to top the frames of what used to be junked table frames that were just lying around The Center’s premises.
Now, these discarded metal table frames have been given a new lease of life and are now serving as classroom writing desks and dining tables.
Cooking for these kids and seeing them enjoy at the dining table and not somewhere else their meals of rice, special dishes, cordial drinks and fresh milk intoxicates my heart twice over.
Truly, we have deleted for good one nasty scene of our children’s poverty from their daily picture album.
Email the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org