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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