Sunday, August 29, 2010

Filipino Association of PNG, Super Value Stores (SVS) to help the Tembari Children

A Friend of Tembari Children

THE Filipino Association of PNG (FAPNG) and the Super Value Stores (SVS) are going to support the Tembari Center in bringing up the 97 children now under its care.

Businessman Joey Sena, who is serving his second term as president of FAPNG, told me they have agreed to set aside some funding to The Center from proceeds of a concert dubbed “Hatid Saya” (Courier of Fun) to be held on Sept 25-26 to mark Papua New Guinea’s independence day.

The forthcoming concert featuring known Filipino entertainers aims to raise funds for its various activities and for charitable groups like the Tembari Children Care (TCC).

Joey said FAPNG is happy to support the cause that The Center is pursuing towards its beneficiaries that included orphans, abandoned, neglected and unfortunate children.

Last year, FAPNG raised money to support police operations in keeping law and order in Port Moresby.

Lina Hanafi, whose family operates SVS supermarket chains in the country, has noted the modest success that The Center has achieved over the last eight months in effecting a change in the lives of the former street children under its care.

She told me in an emailed message that her company could help us with some of our urgent needs.

The daily operations of The Center are being funded by modest grants from donors.

Every month, the facility spends about K1,500 for water bills, foodstuff like biscuits and vegetables, allowances of volunteer teachers’, volunteer mothers and volunteer caretaker.

The Center collects water from a village tap operated by the village’s association several meters from The Center.

Sometimes, The Center would also shoulder its schoolchildren’s bus fares in going to their schools in the city when their guardian parents did not have money.

This year, The Center looks after 42 schoolchildren enrolled in 11 schools around Port Moresby. It also has 45 preschoolers at The Center being taught alphabet and numbers by three volunteer teachers.

Towards the end of September, the British High Commission in PNG’s grant to The Center for its daily milk feeding program would come to an end.

The High Commission is spending K1,200 a month for the milk needs of the children from Monday to Friday. The assistance began last March.

The milk served every Saturday is being provided by another donor.

For the past seven months, fresh milk has become an important part of children’s daily diet. Milk has done a great job in improving their nutrition.

Under our milk program, four children would share a pack of one-liter fresh milk. So everyday, they consume about 24 liters of fresh milk.

It’s only because of generous individuals and institutions that The Center is able to offer them this very important food.

For this reason, I am appealing to individuals or groups for help in sustaining the daily milk needs of our 97 children.

Without their support, the Tembari children would be deprived of the many health benefits from this great food.

Preschoolers enjoying themselves inside their classroom while waiting for lunch to be served last Saturday. Lunch was catered by a kai-kai shop at Erima owned by a Malaysian couple.

Catered food in several trays donated by Malaysian expatriate businesswoman Vinns, owner of a kai-kai shop at Erima.


Saturday’s sumptuous lunch at The Center

A Friend of Tembari Children

THE good news is that there were six people who donated food to the Tembari children last week.

We will refer to them by their first names: Vinns (Malaysian), Manas (Indian), Mussi (Malaysian), Albert (Filipino), Thomas (Asian) and Ilma (PNG-Australian).

And their food assistance went into the cooking of a special lunch for the children last Saturday.

For instance, Vinns, whose family operates a kai-kai (fast-food) shop at Erima (at a shopping compound behind J Mart), cooked the day’s main treat which included rice, beef stew, lamb stew, veggies, breaded chicken wings and rice.

Manas’ contribution consisted of ingredients for a curry potato-beef stew recipe that I cooked at The Center. It also came with a bag of rice and 15-liter chocolate ice cream that proved to be a big hit among our kids.

Albert’s treat was in the form of a special soup – potato soup – cooked in 30-liter pot. This dish took me more than an hour to cook as it took so long to boil.

Mussi sent in rice in a 20kg bag, thus boosting our food stock for the next several days.

Ilma sent four containers of purified water processed by her company, The Water Company. As soon as cool drinking water was set up, the children immediately fell in line, showing the big thirst they had that day.

Thomas, general manager of a fish-export company, sent 20kg of frozen banana prawns last Friday. He told me that prawn is packed with protein and that it would do great to the Tembari children.

This prawn would be cooked in coconut milk and curry for the daily weekday feeding.

Actually, Thomas sends every Friday a carton of frozen fish which we cook the next day. The banana prawn donation was a special one.

So, yesterday lunch was really plentiful and delicious and many of the children had two or three big helpings of the wonderful dishes.

Yesterday’s special Saturday lunch was capped with a serving of chocolate ice cream in a wafer cone.

It was one of the rare experiences with food that they would hardly forget.

That’s why the kids have always looked forward to Saturday – there would always be nice lunch treat every time

But this won’t be possible without sponsors who pay for the ingredients that go into the cooking of this special dish. Every week, two sponsors would chip in K150-K200 each to cover lunch for our 97 children.

And as always, I am always delighted to cook for them.

I know that my Saturday dishes are setting them off towards having a healthy body and a happy disposition in life.

Penny Sagembo, founder of The Cente (left), taking delivery of catered food yesterday, while Jeremy, staff of the kai-kai shop which donated the food, assists them

Volunteer mothers serving steaming potato soup to the children as the first item on their special lunch last Saturday.

Potato soup is boiling wild in a 30-liter pot last Saturday.

Hands shooting up as soon as ice cream serving is announced last Saturday.

Wagi topping up the water cooler with purified water sent by The Water Company Ltd, a weekly donor of purified water.

Wagi serving the children ice cream in wafer cones.

Wagi, The Center’s caretaker, preparing cordial drink donated by Coca-Cola Amatil.

An older child helping out a younger one wash her hands just before the potato soup is served.

Kids enjoying a sumptuous lunch of beef stew, lamb stew, breaded chicken wings, veggies, potato soup and cordial drink.

Kids enjoying their chocolate ice cream.

Children having a desert of chocolate ice cream after finishing lunch.

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At The Center, we are family

A Friend of Tembari Children

THE other Saturday, I was startled to find out that we had more than 100 children who came for the special lunch.

Wagi, the volunteer caretaker, told me he just counted 110 kids who were about to be served lunch.

We have 97 in our official roster of beneficiary children, a big jump from the 78 when I first came to The Center last January.

How come? I asked him, a bit dismayed, knowing that the food I just cooked that day would be shot.

It was supposed to cater for only 97 and the 13 kids who gate-crashed would upset the food on the table.

Hayward Sagembo, the president of Tembari Children Care (TCC), explained to me later.

“Our older kids here at The Center have friends in the village who are street children … they are their peers, they are their buddies.

“And when they are out there, they talk about what they do at The Center and the most common topic would be the food that they would have every day.

“And our children would be proud enough to invite them to come for food, something we usually understood because this is how kids within a peer group behave … they look after each other.”

Hayward said the food The Center serves to the children everyday is drawing them to The Center, although they belong to another facility at the settlement.

This facility is supposed to provide them similar services, he said.

“But the problem is that they cannot provide the services, especially the food that we normally provide our beneficiary children.

“They may have money from donors for this purpose but they don’t deliver the service they are expected to provide, especially an honest-to-goodness and efficient feeding program.”

Whatever happened to the money is everybody’s guess, Hayward said.

“And being here at The Center with their buddies, these street children feel at home …which they don’t feel in the other facility … that’s why they come to join us.”

Indeed, at The Center, we are family. We do our best to give them the feeling of belongingness -- of being among the rest of the kids who have considered the facility as their day home.

Their own home, the one where they live with their guardians, is actually just a stopover place for the night.

The next day, they would be back to The Center to get preschool education from our three volunteer teachers and to have food twice a day – lunch snack and early dinner at 4-5pm. Food like this is not available at home.

While the rest go to their respective elementary schools around Port Moresby and come home to The Center after classes – to have food.

When “uninvited guests” come to The Center during our especial Saturday lunch, we always face the simple problem of how to deal with the situation.

Do we drive them away? It is a cruel thing to do.

Right now, we have SOP – after knowing that we have gatecrashers, we immediately segregate our children.

Since they are our priority, they are served lunch first.

If there’s extra food, and thanks God there has always been, then the gatecrashers would get theirs.

Driving them outright from our premises would be cruel. So, we have to slow down by waiting until every beneficiary child is served food.

Many guardian parents who, long time ago, dismissed the Tembari Children Care faciltiy as a fly-by-night affair are now realizing that The Center is serious in its job of making changes in the lives of its beneficiary children.

The other facilities in the community which are operated by known, well-funded groups where they have earlier enlisted their children have miserably failed them.

They did not get the services promised them when they were being convinced during those days to join the facility.

One proof they see everyday at Tembari Center is the consistency of our feeding activities, and the passion that comes with it, which take place every day, from Monday to Saturday.

The Center serves the children rice, protein food, veggies, fresh milk and cordial drinks. For snacks, they are served biscuits and cordial drinks. These are foodstuff unheard off at the other facilities.

Not to mention the preschool education that the younger children receive everyday

Why are we able to do these?

The answer is quite simple: Our benefactors trust us, one reason they keep on sending their support in the form of foodstuff, materials and on occasions, funds, to help us in our effort of helping the children find sense in their miserable life.

And every week, I would welcome new supporters who have learned about the stories of our beautiful children; they have realized that helping them is one opportunity they have been looking for.

This is one big factor that makes The Center miles ahead of similar facilities in Port Moresby.

We have entrusted the future of our children in the hands of our benefactors who are just too careful not to drop it.

Children playing while waiting for lunch last Saturday.

Children browsing book readers as they waited for lunch to cook. The books are donated by the Rotary Club of Port Moresby.

Penny Sagembo, The Center’s co-founder, marking newly-purchased tin cups used in serving fresh milk and cordial.

Penny leading the preschoolers in singing nursery songs while waiting for lunch to be served.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tembari kids urgently need biscuits

A Friend of Tembari Children

DURING the past several weeks, biscuits have become a major part of our preschool children’s diet especially at noon.

This is because we have changed the format of our feeding program.

Before, we served them a lunch of rice, veggies and tinned fish, cordial drink and fresh milk.

This meal is now being served as early dinner (4-5pm) for our preschoolers along with the bigger children who attend classes in 11 elementary schools in Port Moresby.

These days, we serve our 45 preschoolers biscuits shortly after finishing their morning classes by noontime. We call it lunch snacks of biscuits and cordial drink.

Each kid is usually served a pack of three-piece biscuit, something that is quite heavy in their tummy and enough to last them till the next meal – early dinner – is served.

This means, we have to buy 45 packs of three-piece biscuits everyday. If the food is low in supply, they would be served only two pieces of biscuit each.

And at a cost of about one kina per pack (it’s the cheaper variety), this amounts to K45 a day. Again, just like the daily cordial drink expense, it’s difficult for us to sustain this affair.

But it is a must for the children to have biscuit snacks after morning classes, or else they’d be famished while waiting for early dinner.

You may ask why shifted the rice meal to early dinner.

I tell you. Our children at various schools in the city would start coming home to The Center at round 2pm. By about 3pm all of them --- some 42 schoolchildren – would be home and are tired and hungry for food.

They don’t go home yet. They come straight to The Center because they know food is waiting for them. At home, they could expect nothing.

Together with our preschoolers who had their noontime biscuit snacks, the older children will have their dinner, after which they go home.

Now here is the story: The early dinner would serve as their food overnight till they return the next morning to classes at The Center and to those in city schools.

This is because when they go home to their guardian-parents (remember, they are orphans, abandoned and so on …) they expect no food in the house at dinner, as their guardians are also hard-up to be able to afford to buy food for the night.

Thus, the early dinner of rice and tinned fish.

Giving our beneficiary children two meals a day – noontime biscuit snacks and early dinner – is quite an achievement as far as The Center is concerned.

This is not being done in most facilities that conduct feeding program. Many of them are unable to sustain for lack of food to give their wards, and for lack of support. Or maybe, even if they have money for feeding, it is not being spent as intended by their donors.

Twice-a-day feeding has been going on at The Center, thanks to our generous benefactors who have seen the needs of our children.

But the biscuit issue is quite new and it is only in this space I am informing our supporters that we have pressing concern that greatly affects our preschool children.

Biscuits keep the children up till the next meal at early dinner is served.

We need some help on this one.

Please send our preschoolers the biscuits that would go down with their cordial drinks.

It is food they could hardly afford to miss after classes.

Meantime, we really have to struggle with our modest funding just to feed them adequately everyday.

Toddlers wash their hands just before they are served lunch last Saturday.

Some packs of fresh milk being readied for serving to the kids after their lunch on Saturday. The daily milk of the children is being paid for by two benefactors

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Holiday Inn, Coca-Amatil, Rotary Club POM and Hi-Lift join growing rank of our benefactors

A Friend of Tembari Children

THIS past week, three corporate entities and a rotary club joined The Center’s growing rank of our benefactors.

Hotel expert Holiday Inn POM, beverage giant Coca-Cola Amatil PNG, brokerage (trucking) firm Hi-Lift and the Rotary Club of Port Moresby have found merit in supporting Tembari Children’s Care’s (TCC) thankless job of attempting to effect positive change in the lives of its beneficiary children.

Right now, we have 97 kids under our care and as they grow in number, the pressure of putting up with their everyday needs also grow.

The first effect of an increase in the number of mouths to feed would show on our food supplies.

While we have relatively sufficient supply of rice that makes us able to feed them lunch everyday from Monday to Saturday, our capability to feed a number more than we have budgeted for is one challenge we now confront.

When two individual donors decided to provide us rice on a monthly basis, and from their own pockets at that, they did so based on the food budget that I had presented them, trying to justify the amount of food I requested.

And this was sometime last March when we had only 78 beneficiaries. Since then, the picture has drastically changed.

And over the last eight months, it appears that more and more street children are popping up at ATS Oro Settlement where The Center operates.

TCC is aware those kids need to be plucked out of their predicament. It wanted them in but its resources could only support a limited number.

I have maintained my stand whenever I discussed with Hayward Sagembo, TCC president, our food resources that we can only take a maximum of 100 kids. For now.

Beyond this, would be trouble. I would have to do a lot of explaining to our food donors why we should experience food shortage when what they send every month should be more than enough to feed them.

We have to reconcile our wish to help more street kids with our ability to manage our limited food supply and this one is a tough balancing act.

CCA last week came on board, after a month of waiting for the company to come down with a decision to donate its cordial drink product.

Aware of my growing impatience why the management had taken so long to decide whether or not to give to Tembari children, CCA’s national marketing manager Louise Maher explained that the process involving donations to charity group usually is usually lengthy, something that has to get through layers of management red tape.

The company wanted to ascertain that the donation goes to where they should. In fact, early last month when I lodged my request, Louise asked me to show proof of our legitimacy. And I showed her.

CCA’s modest assistance comes in the form of cordial drink. Over the next three months till November, the Tembari children will receive a regular supply of 8 cartons of cordial drinks a month under the brand name Golden Crush, particularly the new products the company is now promoting nationwide.

This quantity would be a big relief as far as our daily petty cash fund is concerned over the next three months. I explained to Louise that six days a week, the children would consume a total of 24 liters of cordial, costing us at least K107 a week for a total of K430 plus every month.

This amount, which is quite too big for us to sustain every month, could go to other things that The Center would need to improve its operations.

Holiday Inn’s financial comptroller Sean Craig said that his company would help us with some of our urgent needs. Immediately, I presented him four items that we badly need – items that we would have to install at The Center as soon as power service is installed at its premises.

PNG Power is now working the power line extension that will link The Center to the village power facility.

Sean said he finds the items workable. But of course, he has to present the request to management for evaluation as they would cost money.

Knowing my justification for each of the items being requested as Holiday Inn’s corporate donation, Sean said he wished the management would accommodate.

The Rotary Club POM through Hi-Lift Ltd, a trucking company servicing cargoes loaded and unloaded at the Port Moresby port area, has donated two boxes of children’s books – those illustrated readers that a kid would enjoy browsing.

A delivery truck driver at Hi-Lift who happens to live at the settlement told her boss, Susan Chan, director-owner of the firm, about the Tembari children, particularly the preschoolers numbering 45.

Ms Chan quickly remembered two boxes of books that the Rotary Club imported from Sydney which were just lying at the company’s storage room. The children's books came from various public libraries in Sydney and had been imported for distribution to charitable groups looking after unfortunate children.

Having delivered it yesterday (Saturday), Susan thought she would like to do more to help improve the plight of the Tembari children.

Luckily, I was at The Center when it came and was happy to receive the two boxes of books.

If you think you have something already discarded but could be of use to our children, please don’t hesitate to donate it.

It’s one way of relieving your home of pollution caused by the piling up of many unwanted belongings you love to hoard.

To Coca-Cola Amatil, Holiday Inn POM, Hi-Lift and Rotary Club-POM, thanks a million for considering us as worthy of your help.

Wagi (center), The Center’s caretaker-volunteer, serves cordial drinks to the children shortly after lunch on Saturday.

Hayward Sagembo, TCC president, showing off some of the children’s book readers donated by the Rotary Club of Port Moresby through Hi-Lift Ltd.

Children show off the new book readers donated by the Rotary Club of POM through trucking firm Hi-Lift Co owned by Susan Chan while waiting for lunch to be served on Saturday.

Children brows the book readers while waiting for lunch to be served on Saturday.

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The Center gains new ground

A Friend of Tembari Children

THE previous Sunday, a tractor-grader came to The Center to reclaim a small land area from the hillside at the back.

The Center’s property is 3,000 square meters wide, covered by a 99-year lease.

Half of the land area rises to a hill, thus depriving the facility of badly-needed ground space for future facilities like basketball court, volleyball court and mini-soccer ground.

We also seek to erect a modest building that would become The Center’s permanent home. Well, this is a long-term, long-shot project almost impossible to realize, what with the amount involved (any donor?).

Right now, it has no place to call home in the form of a building structure except for the two community learning centers (CLCs) which Digicel Foundation donated sometime last year to serve as classrooms and office-storage space.

The CLCs are none other than old two 20-footer container vans fashioned into a classroom which our 45 preschoolers are now using.

Thanks to our modest fund in the bank, courtesy of generous donors that included the Malaysian Association of PNG, WeCare PNG and Pacific Towing and the British High Commission, we are able to afford the services of a tractor-hire company, which worked on our backyard for five hours, carving out a level ground from the hillside.

The job cost The Center K900.

This is one of the developments at the premises of The Center that continuously receives support from various entities and individuals.

For now, we needed a decent playground for our active children beneficiaries. The older kids love to play soccer, netball and volleyball and the new paved ground would provide them the needed space to do their thing.

Our athletic children have asked me if I could buy them soccer ball, netball and volleyball – at least two pieces of each item – which they can play with on weekend right at The Center’s premises instead of going far into the village where a playing field sits.

I promised them I would look for people who will provide these items.

We have players enough to form a team for soccer, netball and volleyball. Because of this, I wanted them to join the Pikinini sports competition to give them exposure by playing with other kiddy teams all over Port Moresby.

Our eldest player is around 13 year old and they really can play. We think we have winners in our kids.

And of course, not to be left out, our preschoolers love to play as well under the sun after their morning classes. But their games would just involve running around The Center’s premises.

We have enough space for seesaws, slides and monkey bars – playground facilities that we can ill-afford.

But the need for these is quite urgent as our preschoolers are getting active everyday and needed outlets for their energy.

Maybe one of you could help us find potential donors for seesaws, slides and monkey bars for our beneficiary children to play with everyday.

Seeing those playground facilities around Port Moresby being enjoyed by so many children – all put up by the city government – I had encouraged Governor Powes Parkop to donate to the Tembari children similar facilities.

But knowing that there are no votes to generate from spending on such facilities for the Tembari children as their parents are either dead or missing in action, Gov Parkop has conveniently ignored my request.

On the other hand, if ever he would bring one to the settlement, it should be for public use – for the use of all -- and not the exclusive of the Tembari children.

But donation to the needy children without expecting PR windfall and spending on public facilities where children of living parent-voters could enjoy anytime of the day and thus, earn some political points towards the next election, are two separate things.

Well, I am calling on the readers of this blog to help us acquire the needed sporting tools like balls and volleyball nets so The Center’s athletes could start formal training through the help from a village sport coach.

I can tell you we have a winner of a team from our athletic children.

I can tell you also that our little children want to experience playing the seesaws, slides and monkey bars. It could be a new phase in their young lives.

Hayward Sagembo, TCC president, points to the ground that was paved by a hired tractor.

A portion of the ground that has been reclaimed from the hillside.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The children's cordial drink -- Coca-Cola Amatil, Pacific Industries deliver

A Friend Of Tembari Children

THE CHILDREN’S daily consumption of cordial drink has become a big drain in our modest petty cash fund after it assumed a major part of their diet.

And since the 97 kids are fed twice a day, a glass or two of cordial drinks for each of them has become a must in every meal.

They consume at least two liters each feeding session – noontime snacks for the preschoolers after their morning classes, and early dinner, which is served at 4-5pm, before they go home to their guardians for the night.

We do the afternoon feeding to see to it that the kids have a full stomach before they retire for the night. We know that at home, there’s no food to expect.

As for the kids attending our preschool classes at The Center, they would not be able to finish their noontime snack of biscuits unless it is washed down with cordial.

And for the main meal – early dinner – cordial is also a must drink.

So everyday, they consume a total of four liters and there’s no way to skip this.

But this sweetened product is not taken in its original state – it is mixed into 20 liters of iced water so there would be enough to go around for everybody.

The label of this cordial product says the flavored concentrate in this two-liter container must be mixed into four parts of water.

In short, a two-liter cordial concentrate would produce 10 liters of cooled drink. But this is not the case; we have to produce 20 liters of drink so that everybody could have his/her drink. In its much-diluted state, the cordial would taste flat. But the kids do not notice this. To them, it is still a drink as long as it is sweet.

The current price of cordial products ranges from K8.95 to K9.95, depending on the store from where you’re buying it.

The cost everyday therefore, is at least K19 for two two-liter bottle of the cheaper brand, for a total of K114 a week, or K456 a month.

Indeed, it is big money to spend every month for struggling day care-orphanage facility like ours and this eats into our modest grants that we received every month from two donors.

A concerned friend suggested that I approach Pacific Industries regarding our cordial drink problem, which I did.

Emailing Paul Chue, the big boss at Pacific Industries, I related to him our growing difficulties of sustaining the cordial drink needs of our beneficiary children.

I requested for a sustainable supply of their cordial product Gold Spot as his company’s donation to Tembari Children’s Care beneficiary-children.

Mr Chue immediately passed on my request to his general manager, Cary Warren, who, in his email, had invited me to see him regarding their cordial drink donation.

As Pacific Industries’ assistance to the Tembari children, the company has pledged four cartons of two-liter cordials every month, along with other products that the company produces or carries, such as noodles, powder milk and cookies which they import and distributes in the domestic market.

And once the company’s purified water plant is completed, it would also supply us with drinking water for the kids.

Since the Gold Spot donation would only cover 12 feeding days – Monday to Saturday – we would have to fill the rest of the month with one that we buy ourselves from our petty cash fund and with those that would be donated to The Center on occasion.

As I have said earlier, our weekly expense for cordial drink is putting a lot of pressure on our meager daily operating funds.

It is a good thing that on Wednesday, Coca-Cola Amatil, maker of Gold Crush cordial, came to the rescue by accommodating my request for a donation of its cordial product. In fact, I lodged such request as early as first week of July.

CCA’s donation has been made possible by its national marketing manager Louise Maher, who explained to me that the goodies took time to come as her office had to follow sponsorship processes and layers of internal corporate red tape.

But then, the cordial supplies from the two companies are not an assurance that the 24 feeding days would all be covered, since both are able only to donate a limited quantity.

As in the case of Coca-Cola Amatil, it would only be a one-time delivery as a corporate decision, which may last for a few days, after which we would have to fend off for ourselves again to fill in the gap.

It is for this reason that I am appealing to readers of this blog to help us sustain the cordial drink requirement of our beneficiary children.

Let me know if you think you are able to help us with this one. Call me on 3246-712 or on 323-2605, or cell phone me on 722-31984.

As you would know, this drink makes children enjoy the food better, even if it is only a daily meal of rice, tinned fish and veggies, from Monday to Friday.

And of course with cordial drinks, the more they enjoy their lunch on Saturday which is especially cooked for them, using ingredients and materials paid for by two sponsors who chip in K150 each.

Saturday lunch is always good, I can assure you. I’m the one cooking it, that’s why.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Canned meat in Tembari children’s meal

A Friend of Tembari Children

A FEW days ago, Hugo Canning Ltd, makers of our favorite Ox & Palm corned beef, delivered to The Center canned meat products as part of the company’s food assistance to charitable groups like ours.

The pleasant surprise is that the corned beef that our kids have began consuming since a few days ago carries a brand that is sold in Australia and elsewhere in the Pacific, but rarely in PNG.

I learned quickly that Hugo Canning also produces quality canned meat products for companies overseas, which sell them in the domestic market using their own brands.

Knowing that Australia is the consumer of such products, I have assumed that PNG has made the grade when it comes to canning meat products, and the canner is Hugo.

I have become familiar with this marketing strategy after my long association with RD Tuna Canners’ top man, Managing Director Pete C Celso, who is a regular donor to Tembari Children Center.

RDTC exports canned tuna in various sizes and flavors to Europe and the importers sell the same under their own brands.

If I’m not mistaken, there are more than 10 brands being marketed in European countries. The market is Europe with a European brand, but made in PNG using PNG’s quality tuna.

I assume this is also the case with Hugo Canning which uses both local and imported meats and ingredients specified by overseas buyers.

Seeing the pile of cartons containing the canned goodies, I immediately rummaged through contents looking for one thing – Ox & Palm corned beef, a long time favorite.

But it was not there and instead, this Australian corned beef brand, which tasted good with a unique flavor.

I emailed Dave Slape, one of the top guys at Hugo Canning, to thank him for the generous delivery. He assured me that Tembari children are in his list of foodstuff donation beneficiaries.

I told Dave: The canned meats in several cartons are most welcome … know why?

From Monday to Friday, our children whose number has grown from 78 six months ago to 97 these days, normally have a lunch of steamed rice and tinned fish, some veggies and cordial. Tinned fish day in day out, from Monday to Friday, in short.

I told Dave the canned meat would now break this monotonous chain of daily tinned fish meals for a number of days.

I have instructed our volunteer mothers cooking the daily meal to intersperse it with the donated canned meat for a change – meaning, to have at least a meal of corned beef twice a week until the supply has been used up.

When he learned that Yiannis Nicolaou of Lamana Hotel is one of our benefactors through his Children’s Foundation, Dave said: It’s a small world … because we also deliver on occasion to children under his foundation’s care.

Reading between the lines, I could sense from Dave that his company Hugo Canning did not make a mistake in supporting the Tembari Children.

In short, our benefactors Dave Slape and his company Hugo Canning are in good company with Yiannis Nicolaou and his PNG Children’s Foundation

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Power to The Center

A Friend of Tembari Children

IN THE next several weeks, The Center expects to enjoy power service.

Thanks to PNG Power chief executive Tony Koiri who did not think twice in granting my request for power service at the Tembari Children Care day care/orphanage center.

He said The Center will be connected to main power lines very soon and started the ball rolling by issuing out instructions to his engineers to make this happen.

Since it was founded in 2003 by Penny Sagembo, TCC has not enjoyed power service. The last post at the ATS Oro Settlement at 7-Mile, outside of Port Moresby, is about 300 meters from The Center.

Obviously, there are no potential power consumers along the route where a new cable power would pass, the settlement being impoverished.

So, that’s the reason, just maybe, why the power company has not been encouraged to extend the power lines towards The Center’s location. It was more of a business decision than anything else.

At first, we decided to do it the usual business way. TCC president Hayward Sagembo went to PNG Power business office and requested for power connection on behalf of The Center.

Immediately, an electrician was sent to our area and afterwards, he gave us his assessment: We have to bleed K6,000 (US$2,000) to get a connection. At least three log posts would have to be erected to bring the power cable next to the premises of The Center. And some more incidentals, including a new transformer.

“We don’t have that money,” was my first reaction. If we shell out this amount, our funds would be greatly depleted.

At the moment, I have no prospects for new funding sources. Our day to day petty cash funds would be greatly affected.

Earlier, we thought of buying a gen-set that would power a few bulbs, a refrigerator to keep the kids’ milk chilled, a freezer to store frozen food donations, a computer set to help us work on our documents, video player and screen for the kids’ children educational programming and some more --- things that would make our ops at The Center efficient and effective. Right now, we have yet to achieve such efficiency owing to lack of power (pardon the pun),

But how long can we run the gen-set during the day, with all these electrical appliances attached to it? The costs of gen-set fuel is another issue that we have to deal with along with the cost of one unit, whose prices range from K800 (US$272) to over K5,000 (US$1,700), depending on horsepower.

So, we asked around about solar power, thinking that this would solve our problem. After learning that we have to shell out at least K18,000 (US$6,200) to operate a five-panel solar generator and all those batteries needed to store sun power and other costly attachments, we dropped the idea. Although the system will operate with less maintenance cost for 11 years, the issue again is money. We don’t have it.

So on that day last week when Hayward told me of the PNG Power electrician’s costing estimate, I told him to hang on.

I went straight to the top at PNG Power, emailing John Tangit, A/General Manager, and relaying to him about our plight at The Center, and about our wish to have power for the benefit of our children beneficiaries whose number has now gone up to 97.

I also emailed the company’s PR Manager, Ms Eileen Lloyd, and told her the same story.

Almost at the same time, Eileen and John relayed my message to CEO Tony Koiri, whose one-line reply summed it all: Yes, let’s bring power to our friend’s day care center.

Having said this, Mr Koiri instructed PNG Power Electrical Engineers, G Soso and L Malemba, to act on this ASAP. The two engineers went to The Center to assess the area, and told Hayward: When you saw our men out here, that’s it … they’re working on your connection.

What’s more, Mr Koiri said The Center does not have to spend anything, except for the cost of the EsiPay meter and some miscellaneous expenses.

Well, we can live with that.

Thanks Mr Koiri! Thanks Mr Tangit and thanks Ms Lloyd for wasting no time in acting on our urgent need.

With electricity at The Center, we could do a lot in the service of our beneficiary children.

Most of the children, I am sure, have not seen a TV screen, much-less seen a children’s educational programming – from Sesame Street to Dora, Bananas In Pyjamas and all. These are educational video materials that would greatly enhance our pre-school children’s learning process. It did on many children around the world who have access to such facilities or luxuries.

Now, with this, I would have to look for a donor who would buy the kids a set of video player and a flat wide screen (any takers?).

With electricity, we can now run a modest-size freezer which could produce ice blocks that would go with purified water in the cooler. We can also store frozen fish donations. Right now, we have to cook any frozen fish donation on the day it was delivered for lack of a freezer to keep it for some other day.

We can also operate a computer and a printer to process our children’s documents – profiles, TCC documents and all (any donors for this one item?)

We can now start a livelihood project that has been stalled for quite sometime due to lack of electricity – a meri dress project.

Long time ago, a charity group donated electric-run sewing machines to The Center so it could start its income-generating project. This has never been started until now. With electricity coming to The Center, this will now become a reality.

In short, the Tembari children can look forward to a brighter day in their lives.

This will happen because of electricity, because of a generous gesture by PNG Power.

More power to you!

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Friends chip in for rice donation

A Friend of Tembari Children

IT’S A GOOD feeling to receive something that you actually expected beforehand because you believe people are generous, but did not know from whom it would be this time.

A troika of friends had chipped in their extra pocket money and bought the Tembari children 13 bags (10kg) of Roots Rice. Costing nearly K500 (US$170), the foodstuff was delivered to me last week.

I did not expect such donation to come from them. But I knew they read my blog ( on the prospect of food shortage at The Center, which had worried me quite a bit.

And they responded generously.

Our new benefactors – Filipino expats Tony, Dhes and Jocelyn – all from HiTron, the cable-TV provider – said in an email the food would help relieve the pressure from low rice stock at The Center, which was the case until yesterday when I delivered the goodies to The Center.

Tony said in his email: “We know this is just a small thing ... how we wish we could have sent more …!”

But as I had said in my earlier blog, in the spirit of helping, nothing is too small to help. Coming from the heart, any amount or quantity will always assume a great bulk, a great volume.

Over the last eight months, a number of people sent small, but became big somehow because it assured our beneficiary children of food in their tummy everyday.

And even without them saying it, I knew they really appreciated it, based on the looks in their faces every after burp they made after every meal.

The 13 bags of rice will cover 13 feeding days, just long enough to connect to the next food delivery this month from donors.

The Center cooks rice for the 97 beneficiary children at the rate of 10kg a day.

But since we have seven volunteer parents who work at The Center to look after the daily feeding session, an extra two kilos is usually cooked for them.

As I have said on occasions, we also have to take care of those who take care of us. So, the extra 2kgs -- equivalent to a bag of 10kg every week, for a total of four bags in a month.

Of course, this goes with a side dish of say, tinned fish or veggies, which is also an expense as far as The Center’s finances are concerned.

But on cases like this, we try to think in the positive.

We know God always provides and donors always send.

Like our friends Tony, Dhes and Jocelyn.

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Saturday soup for the Tembari kids

Two kids wash hands just before getting their serving of soup. Hand-washing is one hygiene practice being taught to the Tembari children.

Volunteer cooking mothers still the noodle soup before adding beaten eggs into it while boiling in a 30-liter pot.

Their hands washed, kids wait at the dining tables while soup was being cooked.

Finally soup has come. Toddlers have their soup inside their classroom.

Kids enjoying their steaming hot soup.

Kids finally have their main course of minced beef and rice after finishing their soup.

Finally lunch is over and the kids return home to their guardian parents. – Pictures by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

A Friend of Tembari Children

EVERY Saturday over the last eight months, I have never failed to cook for the Tembari children especial soup which they savor just before being served their “main course” at lunch.

I have suspected the soup has addicted them. As always, they have looked forward to having soup every Saturday just before their meal of rice-meat and veggie.

There’s nothing like this on weekdays – that is from Monday to Friday – where they are served only rice, tinned fish, cordial and fresh milk. Saturday lunch has always been special for the kids.

Volunteer cooking mothers have joked about it. It is because of my soup that the kids come in full force every Saturday for a special lunch.

While I am waiting for the main dish to cook along with rice, with help from my volunteer mothers, I would be busy preparing my soup concoction which I cook in a 30-liter pot.

“Alfredo … this soup is good …” says Shaun, a five-year-old who was abandoned by his father early last year. He has two other siblings – Rose (10) and Melanie (8) who became accustomed to sipping my soup on Saturday.

“Oh, really, how good …?” I would ask in reaction.

“It’s good … I finished my cup …”

While the kids are sipping hot soup from their tin cups, I would walk around their dining tables, asking: Did you like the soup?

A positive answer would always lift my heart. Then I would take their pictures for posterity.

Just to think that cooking a 25-liter soup in a 30-liter pot for about an hour amid a swirling of flame from firewood could be that exhausting.

But coming up with a tasty concoction is also a challenge and quite costly, considering that I would have only a very small budget for the Saturday lunch – an amount donated by two supporters chipping in a minimum of K150 (US$51) each to cover the ingredients for the main dish and soup.

I have tried a number of favorite Filipino soups, which normally, would be cooked only in small pot, good for at least five to 10 people in the family. In this quantity, cooking or preparing it would be easy.

But at The Center, I am talking of young diners from 70 to 97, depending on their availability to come for lunch. But it had always been “full house” on Saturdays because lunch would be different, if not especial, a far cry from the Monday-to-Friday lunch of rice, tinned fish and veggies.

The Saturday feeding session would always be packed because of the soup, so the mothers would say.

Whenever I would ask a Filipino who can cook about soup for mass feeding, the first suggested recipe is for “misua”, actually a rice-noodle that was brought to the Philippines by the Chinese in the early 1800s.

Ever since, “misua” has become a common and favorite soup item in a Filipino home’s dining table.

But I have tried this soup only once, and just very recently. I could tell that it was a hit among the kids and the volunteer mothers, being a new thing for their taste buds. I look forward to cooking it again, once I ran out of soup ideas.

And lately, I have incorporated in my soup Indian spices like masala powder, five-spices powder, turmeric and curry powder to perk up the flavor. The flavor would always turn out good and the kids just love it.

I would say soup has become a little luxury for our children at The Center. Among resto diners, and those who got money, an expensive Chinese soup has always a very special treat. Our children are having the same thing, only in a different level, but the common denominator is the world “special”.

Our kids’soup ecstasy would not be possible, however, without the continuing support of people who would sponsor our especial Saturday lunch, which always features a special soup recipe.

Soup, anyone?

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Food crisis looming at The Center

A Friend of Tembari Children

Dear Benefactors:

I HAVE just advised Hayward Sagembo, president of the Tembari Children Care (TCC), that we are facing some sort of “food crisis” due to an increase in the number of children that we are looking after.

I told him unless I am able to find new donors of rice, milk, tinned fish and new funding assistance as well, however small it may be, we should keep at 100 the maximum number of kids being fed from Monday to Saturday.

Right now, we have 97 in our roster, although the last 10 children are still being profiled. We want to ascertain that they really deserved to benefit from our services, which included daily feeding and education at our pre-school facility and in various elementary schools in Port Moresby.

When the new beneficiary kids showed up at The Center while we were serving our children lunch the other Saturday, they were famished. And we can’t drive them away.

I am aware that there are many more street kids at ATS Oro Settlement at 7-Mile outside of Port Moresby where The Center operates who could be hungry.

But I told Hayward we cannot take more than what we can feed.

Yesterday, I discovered to my horror that the 32 bags of rice (10kg each) that The Center receives every month from two benefactors and the occasional tinned fish donations would no longer be enough to last the 24 feeding days in a month.

In fact, our rice stock is already 8 days short. This is due to an increase in the quantity of rice being cooked everyday to cover the additional mouths to feed, which have grown from the 78 when food supplies began arriving last March, to the present 97.

I have instructed our volunteer mothers cooking the daily meal that they should limit cooking or rice at 10kg per day as budgeted. But this is not being done as I have learned.

They reasoned out that they are cooking more than the budgeted 10kg/day to cover the increased rice consumption of the children per meal.

The extra kilos of rice being cooked everyday have upset the monthly food budget. And this has worried me a lot.

Last March, when I negotiated for our monthly rice supplies with benefactors, I based the needed volume on the food consumption of 78 children in our roster, to which donors responded by delivering the food. The quantity of rice, for quite sometime, had been comfortable as it covered adequately all the food needs of our children.

This is no longer the case.

Yesterday, I checked our rice stock and discovered that we would be short of food by about 8 days – equivalent to 8 bags of 10kg—before the next batch of rice arrives.

The Center cooks a minimum of 10kg everyday, for a total of 6 bags from Monday to Saturday.

The explanation I got from Hayward and The Center’s administrator, who oversees The Center’s day to day operations, was that a number of kids seemed to be consuming more rice each mealtime, and would complain if they were served the usual quantity. They, especially the older children, needed a second helping, or even a third.

To me, this is quite understandable. The children are growing and would need more food to sustain growth and hopefully to a certain extent that they would become healthy if they are not yet.

Six months ago, when I computed the possible consumption of each child per meal, I arrived at this figure: one cup of uncooked rice, when cooked, would serve two kids. A kilo of rice has six cups, and when cooked would serve 12 children.

Based on this figure, our rice donors delivered the 32 bags of rice monthly.

Because of this new development, I am a bit forced to look for new donors who could supplement our monthly rice requirement.

I don’t want our children to go hungry again like they used to during those many days before I discovered them last December. That was the time when they were fed only four times a week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. And not rice but kaukau and veggies.

It is for this reason that once again, I would like to appeal to individuals and institutions that happen to read this blog to appreciate the food crisis that is looming at The Center.

Any donation of rice and other foodstuff such as milk, tinned fish, noodles, cordial drink and biscuits on a sustainable and on-going basis would greatly complement the food supplies that we receive right now.

This will assure our beneficiary children they will continue to have proper meal from Monday to Saturday while getting education at our learning facility and at various elementary schools around Port Moresby.

As I have said in the past, there are many opportunities to help needy Papua New Guineans. And many of them are children whom you could find in the streets. And there are still a lot of them at ATS Oro Settlement whom we think deserve our services.

Helping the children at Tembari Children Center (TCC) is one of these opportunities for you to consider.

And helping them need not be that costly so as to burn a hole in your pocket

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Monday, August 2, 2010

New supporters for Tembari Children

Tembari children enjoying a lunch of “arroz caldo”, a rich Filipino dish with chicken meat, veggies and eggs.

The kids at the dining tables while waiting for their special lunch to be served last Saturday.

The younger batch of kids aged 2 to 5 while away their time in their classroom while their special lunch is being cooked.

Kids drinking their milk shortly after finishing their lunch or “arroz caldo’. The final drink they are to have is cordial. – All pictures by APH

A Friend of Tembari Children

THE Tembari children have gained two new supporters.

They are the Nationwide Constructions (PNG) Ltd headed by managing director Thom McDonalds and a group of Malaysian lady expatriates led by Cindy Lim, a senior staff at Digicel outlet at RH Hypermart.

Thom and Cindy became supporters of our children on the same day. In fact, they bought a lot of goodies for our kids, also on the same day.

When Cindy read my blog ( appealing to individuals who may be able to provide us items badly needed by The Center, she immediately asked me for such a list.

Receiving it the next day, she circulated the list in no time among friends and contacts.

It had quickly reached the big boss at Nationwide Constructions (PNG) Ltd, Aussie expat Thom MacDonalds, through a member of his staff who happened to have a relative acquainted with Cindy.

In a letter addressed to no-one in particular, but maybe wishing that we at Tembari Children Care (TCC) could read it somehow, Thom said his company has been helping activities that aimed to improve the lives of those who are less fortunate.

“Since the beginning, my company has been very fond of supporting institutes to help people of PNG in their needs.

“As part of showing my support to your institution’s vision, we are giving this humble gift to help you in your aim of helping fight hunger in PNG.

The letter came with several boxes of foodstuff which were now addressed to Tembari Children Care.

Lynne Ebit, assistant to Thom McDonalds, told me on the phone that his boss gave her my want-list, with instruction that she buy the items the soonest for immediate delivery to The Center.

On the same day, Cindy and Co also bought a number of items included in the want-list.

It appears that word about the 97 children under our care is reaching more and more people who are looking for an opportunity to help.

Thom McDonalds and company, as well as Cindy and Co, are just a few among them.

They have joined the roster of generous individuals, corporate entities and institutions who would like to have a stake in the future of the Tembari Children.

But their coming did not intrigue me anymore.

It is something likened to a tiny fragment of gold that little by little shows its glitter as it emerges from a mountain of dirt.

I am saying this because I found out just very recently that an individual who has big heart to help is always outnumbered by those who don’t have any, by those who would choose to ignore, by those who don’t care at all and by those who fear that helping the unfortunate would rob them of their life’s comfort and money in their wallet – in a conservative guesstimated ratio of 1:1,000,000.

Despite this, however, the Tembari children are still lucky.

While they are being dismissed by multitude of uncaring, heartless and detached individuals, the number of those who came forward is somewhat adequate, for now, to help them gain freedom one of these days from the bondage of their life-long misfortunes.

Although relatively few, our benefactors are assuring them that something good is forthcoming to change their lives for the better.

A firm believer in the goodness of man and in the kindness of many hearts, I can only hope and pray.

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Our thirsty children

Tembari children mill around a newly-installed purified water dispenser last Saturday. The cooler was donated by John Whitfield, general manager of Pacific Towing based in Port Moresby while the purified water was provided by Ilma Leahy of The Water Company and a group of Malaysian expatriate ladies.

Children having their first taste of clean drinking water at The Center last Saturday.

Two toddlers compare their cups of purified water from the dispenser.

Hayward Sagembo, president of the Tembari Children Care (TCC) day care and orphanage center tops up the cooler with fresh purified water while the kids watched.

Melanie, 8, poses with the water dispenser just before it was filled for the first time with donated purified water.

A Friend of Tembari Children

THERE’S one precious commodity donated to The Center that became an instant hit with the Tembari children -- purified water.

Within 30 minutes, the more than 50 liters of this drinking water iced in a cooler were consumed by the 85 children who came for our especial lunch last Saturday.

That’s how thirsty the Tembari children have become.

Actually, The Center looks after 97 orphans, abandoned, unfortunate, abused and neglected children. But during last Saturday’s feeding, only 85 showed up, for one reason or the other.

Immediately after I announced there was cool drinking water for them, the kids instantly got up from their seats at the dining tables and made a long queue in front the newly-installed cooler.

Donated by my good friend John Whitfield, general manager of Pacific Towing, the 20-liter cooler has a provision for plastic cups, which the kids excitedly peeled off one after the other from the dispenser.

As they draw the thirst quencher, the kids instantly formed what we can call water cooler chats. And they chatted about how sweet the water was.

As far as I could remember, the purified drinking water that I brought to The Center last Saturday was the first that our children ever had.

The water came in two 20-liter containers, courtesy of Ilma Leahy of The Water Company at Gordon, while another batch in small bottles was donated by a group of Malaysian expatriate ladies led by Cindy Lim.

Until last Saturday when I brought the stuff, clean drinking water was one of the many items that had been missing at The Center. It was the first ever donated bottled water that The Center had.

Every after meal, the kids would wash down the food not with drinking water but with either cordial drink or fresh milk.

But I knew the water used to mix the cordial was contaminated due to improper handling, from the time it left the village water source until it was transferred to appropriate containers.

In most cases, I could see the mother volunteers not being very careful when handling water, their hands being dirty in the first place.

I have never seen our children gulped down the cool, sweet- tasting water like they did last Saturday.

One reason is that The Center has no source of water – drinking water at that – at its premises.

The water we normally use for daily cooking and washing the pots, plates, cups and many others after every feeding session comes from a village tap several meters from The Center.

It is being collected by our volunteer mothers in buckets and in big pots.

Having read the email that I sent to her regarding our urgent need for drinking water for the kids, Ms Leahy did not hesitate to pledge a weekly supply of the liquid product processed from their bottling plant at Gordon.

But her first concern was the way the purified water would be handled until they are consumed by the children.

She told me: Our water is purified … it’s pure … but its purity is not guaranteed with the way your volunteers handle water at The Center like the way you had described it ….”

I assured Ms Leahy that I will see to it that the containers or cups that the kids would be using to access the water are properly washed or are simply clean.

I realized that the children would be drinking a lot of water if given the opportunity. At home, there’s no guaranty that the water they have is clean.

Based on last Saturday’s consumption of purified water which was about 60 liters, the children would require at least a total of 300 liters from Monday to Saturday during which lunch is served – or three 20-liter containers a day.

This blogsite is appealing to those who have access to purified water to donate to our children the much-needed water they need to drink everyday.

It is an opportunity for you to help them achieve a better health through clean and safe drinking water.

Drinking at least eight glasses of water a day is one way to being healthy. Our kids would do well for now with at least a glass after every meal.

But since our children have no regular access to clean drinking water – even a glass of it -- it would be easy to say now that they are still far from being healthy.

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Miss Digicel 2010 brings cheer to Tembari Children

Ms Hariesa Tau distributes clothes to a young girl at the Tembari Children Care (TCC) learning center.

Hariesa with several of the children under the care of TCC.

Hariesa with the children … she wants to be a role model for the youth. – Pictures by Digicel

A Friend of Tembari Children

THE Tembari Children had a beautiful visitor last week who came with some goodies.

Miss Digicel 2010 Hariesa Tau was accompanied by Digicel staff and volunteers and members of the Foursquare church.

She and her entourage distributed clothing to the Tembari children, who were part of the 97 beneficiaries under the care of The Care, a day care and orphanage facility at ATS Oro Settlement at 7-Mile outside of Port Moresby

The gesture was part of Ms Tau’s charity work in the community, according to Digicel Foundation.

She told the kids that she would like to address youth development and help communities with on-going projects in their areas achieve their goals as part of her community outreach awareness programme.

Ms Tau said: “I would like to be a role model for the youth in the country and shw that there is more to life.”

Digicel (PNG) chief executive John Mangos said: “As a team, Digicel is fully involved in charity work through involvement, commitment and support of our staff in Digicel Foundation project. We are proud to include Hariesa in our community activities.”

The Center, through its president Hayward Sagembo, had expressed thanks to Ms Tau, saying that the special attention she had shown to the Tembari children just showed that they (children) are special in many ways.

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