Sunday, July 25, 2010

Our kids have grown in number

A Friend of Tembari Children

OVER the past few weeks, the number of children under the care of Tembari Children Care (TCC), a day care and orphanage center, has grown to 97 from the 83 children on record.

This is an increase of 14 children whom we refer to as “unfortunate” ones.

Unfortunate in the sense that while they still have parents who should look after them, they could be found roaming around the settlement day in day out.

In other words, they are the street children at ATS Oro Settlement at 7-Mile, just outside of Port Moresby.

Many families in the settlement have more than five children – up to seven, to say the least.

Sad to say all of the school-age children in the family are not in school. They are out in the street, who in their young age, are already learning to become future raskol or scum of the society.

The Center’s president, Hayward Sagembo, has decided to “save” at least one of these children in the family by taking it to The Center to become a beneficiary of the facility’s modest services under its education and nutrition program.

“At least one out of the seven out-of-school children in a family could join our daily pre-school classes and the Monday-to-Saturday feeding program,” Hayward said.

He explained that The Center is a community-based organization and one of its goals is to help children in the community like the 14 who have recently joined us get education and have food everyday from our soup kitchen.

In fact, The center has 40 plus kids attending pre-school classes at the learning centers provided by Digicel Foundation, and another 40 plus who attending elementary schools around Port Moresby. Their school fees had been paid for by The Center from grants provided by WeCare PNG.

“In doing so, The Center could help them develop into a better citizen in the future,” Hayward said.

We know there are still a lot of such children in the settlement who should be in the classrooms but are not due to the poverty of their family, that even feeding each one of them has been a day to day struggle for the parents.

But we could only take those whom we think are truly deserving and Hayward has set the criteria for that.

Said guideline is now the basis on which The Center decides who should be accepted and become a beneficiary.

But are we able enough to take more children as beneficiaries of The Center’s programs? Could we take more than we could feed?

It is one question that has begun bugging me as I look at the perspective of providing food for the Tembari children.

While Hayward’s job is to look for children around the settlement who could join The Center, my job as a Friend of Tembari Children is to look for people, groups or institutions, or in short, sponsors, who could provide us food, grants, funding, materials, services and others on a sustainable and on-going affair.

I explained to our potential benefactors that supporting us on a “sustainable and on-going basis” is the only way to help change the lives of our wards for the better.

When I first discovered The Center and its children last December, there were only 78 under the care of the facility. A few weeks after I decided to help The Center find supporters and donors, the number jumped to 83.

It has been this number – 83 – through which I marketed the future of the children to potential benefactors, who later provided food and funding.

What I meant to say is that, whenever a potential donor of our monthly food supply – whether its rice, milk, cordial drink, tinned fish or biscuits -- asked me how much food we need every month, I would provide him a computation of the daily food consumption based on 83 mouths.

And deciding to help, they sent the food. And the feeding program has been good, so far. Our children eat rice and tinned fish and veggies, drink milk and cordial and have biscuit snacks everyday – from Monday to Saturday.

This was a far cry from those days when The Center could only feed them (78 kids during those days) four times a week with only kaukau, sliced bread and cordial. I decided to change this for the better by talking to potential donors.

Now, the coming of 14 new beneficiaries means 14 new mouths to feed.

Today, Saturday, July 24, I asked our administrator-caretaker for the headcount of the children just before we began serving lunch, and he later told me: “We have 97 today …”

I was startled. I immediately thought of the food that I had just cooked, worried that the food budget for my special Saturday feeding was for only 83 kids.

For the Monday-to Friday feeding, we cook 10kgs of rice and 27 pieces of tinned fish (425gms) and mix four liters of cordial drink to 40 liters of water. They also consume 21liters of fresh milk which is served just after lunch.

The daily feeding affair amounts to six bags of 10kg rice every week, or 24 bags every month.

For my special Saturday lunch, I normally cook 10kgs of beef, chicken or fish, along side 10kgs or vegetable dish and 25 liters of soup, and this would be enough for the 83 kids. The dish goes down with 10kgs of boiled rice.

The money to buy the materials for the Saturday lunch recipe is sponsored by two individuals who would chip in K150 each. They wanted to give the children something different, something more delicious and nutritious.

With our wards now numbering 97, it could put a strain on our food budget. It could also upset my budget for the special Saturday lunch.

As the one dealing with our food donors, I could no longer ask them to increase their monthly donations. Giving them additional burden would be unfair.

One benefactor, an executive at RH Group, is already spending at least K10,000 a year on his food supply – monthly rice and fresh milk – to our children. He averages a little over K800 for this alone each month.

Another rice donor is spending at least K700 for the rice he sends every month.

Faced with an “impending food shortage” at The Center, I am compelled to find this time a third rice donor to meet the increased food consumption of our children.

I am looking at an additional 15 bags of rice (10kg) every month as food security on top of what we are getting every month.

Potential donors need not deliver all this. Maybe an individual could donate one bag (10kg) once a month, which could cost less than K50.

Fifteen individual rice donations could easily cover the possible shortfall that The Center would face in the coming weeks.

This is actually an appeal, thinly veiled as a proposal, and at the same time an encouragement.

It is an opportunity being offered to one and all to help the Tembari Children move towards their future.

Somebody just told me that there are people who wanted to help but did not know where to look. So I am directing your sight towards The Tembari Children – they are the ones you’re looking for.

I believe that there are people who would find this appeal an opportunity for them to help.

A bag of rice worth less than K50 won’t rob you of life’s comfort. But instead, it will enrich your life and make you a better person.

Most important, it will give you a stake in the future of the Tembari Children and a passage into their heart, on your way to Heaven.

How about that?

Email the writer:

No comments:

Post a Comment