Monday, August 2, 2010

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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