Monday, June 14, 2010

A tale of firewood donation from Sarco Timberyard

A heap of firewood donation from Sarco Timberyard, with the Tembari classrooms in the bacground.

A portion of firewood shows in the foreground, while volunteer cooking assistants look after the two pots steaming with yummy dishes.

What is left after cooking is done.

A Friend of Tembari Children

FOR a long time, The Center had grappled with the cost of firewood that we used in cooking daily meals for our 83 beneficiary children.

And whenever I did my Saturday cooking at The Center, I would chase my soup kitchen assistants (volunteer mothers, in short) to get me enough firewood so we could build a good fire to boil 25 liters of water for soup and another 25 liters for 10kg of rice.

When there were still small trees around The Center to chop down, mothers did it without remorse, without impunity. But those little trees are all gone now. So we have no other choice but buy firewood.

Three or four pieces of split wood won’t boil water in an hour. So, I really need a big amount of firewood burning an inferno under my two 30-liter pots.

Every day, The Center would buy two bundles of firewood at K7 at a Nine-Mile junction where vendors abound. Add to this the bus fares for the two volunteer mothers who do the errands, the cost would shoot up to K10 a day, for a total of K260 for 26 feeding days.

We just can’t afford to spend this much for firewood alone every month. We have other pressing concerns for which we could spend our limited funds on.

Just recently, while taking a delivery of a donation for month’s supply of rice and milk at RH Hypermart’s warehouse, I happened to notice a lot of discarded pallet woods around the premises.

I immediately thought we can have those pallet woods for firewood.

Pallet woods are used to transport various types of goods and products from overseas and from local manufacturers.

All I have to do is asked Hypermart general manager CC Ang for some of them. Then our daily firewood problem would be solved.

However, Mr Ang told me he doubted the wood I was after would be suitable for cooking as they had been treated with chemicals in factories where they originated from in other countries.

Chemical treatment of shipping crates and pallet woods is a requirement being imposed by a certain international organization and also by countries where foreign goods are to be shipped.

Such treatment would kill all types of bugs or diseases embedded into the woods just before they were manufactured into crates or pallet woods. And when burned, they produce toxic smokes.

Mr Ang said those who would inhale smoke from these woods might suffer some health problems later after constant exposures to such toxic smoke.

Immediately, I had thought of my self and the volunteer mothers who would cook daily meals using this wood.

So, what to do?

Then, Mr Ang said: “Sarco … it has a lot of discarded timber in its compound.” He was referring to Sarco Timberyard, a subsidiary of RH Group which operates sawmill at 6-Mile, NCD.

The suggestion was great. Immediately, I emailed Ivan Lu, senior executive director at RH Group, regarding my firewood problem.

Replying, Ivan advised me to call Donny Yii, his manager at Sarco Timberyard. I could have whatever volume I need.

“I can give you a heap,” Donny told me on the phone, saying he received instructions from Ivan regarding my request.

Hearing this, I said: “It would cost us K100 to haul them off to 7-Mile (where The Center is located), could you also provide me a pick-up or ute to bring them to The Center?

“No worries … I will have my boys get them ready … call me tomorrow.”

At our appointed time last Friday, I drove off to Sarco’s compound with two male volunteers who would accompany the shipment to The Center.

At the compound, I immediately looked around for the firewood pick-up, but didn’t see any.

Mr Tu, a supervisor at the timberyard, came up to me from somewhere and said he had been waiting for me all day.

And I told him I could only pick up the firewood on a Friday, being my day off.

Then a Filipino worker, Lalang, who was assigned for this errand, told me our firewood was ready, and I asked: “Where is it?… can’t see any pick-up (with the discarded timber wood) .”

“There …” he pointed towards a huge roofed compound and I saw a tall, 10-ton dump truck parked by the perimeter GI sheet fence.

“That’s your firewood …” Lalang Told me, smiling.

Wow! Looking at it from where I stood, I could see the dump truck 12 feet high had been loaded to the brim with discarded scrap timber!

“It would take us till next year before we could finish them off …”I kidded him.

WHEN THE stuff was unloaded at the back of The Center, everyone saw a huge heap of timber pieces – our firewood.

When curious residents at the Oro ATS Settlement saw the heap and wanted to buy some for their cooking use, one volunteer mother in charged of the soup kitchen flatly told them: No you can’t … It’s for the kids.”

Last Saturday, I was amazed to see how my firewood gave my pots a good fire.

One volunteer mother told me, smiling: It could take us six months to finish them off.

Thanks a lot, Sarco Timberyard for the generously heaping firewood donation.

It would really cook us millions of nice dishes for our kids without worrying a bit as to where to get the next day’s cooking fire.

Sarco Timberyard … your firewood burns great just like your generosity!

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