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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