Sunday, September 5, 2010

Engr Joselito Buenaventura and ABC Builders solve The Center’s timber problem

This is the makeshift classroom built on the left wing of the CLC.

This side on the right wing of the CLC will be converted into a bigger classroom which would also double as audio-visual room where the children could watch video of children educational programming. It will also serve as the children’s dining hall.

A Friend of Tembari Children

LAST WEEK, I was a bit concerned after I learned that it would cost us more than K1,000 to buy timber materials to build a new, makeshift classroom for our preschool.

The new makeshift classroom is intended to take the space on the right wing of one of our community learning centers (CLCs) fashioned out a junk container van.

On the left wing of the container van already sits a new makeshift classroom built of scrap timber materials which we bought in one of the timber yards outside of Port Moresby.

The planned new classroom would not only function as one but as audio visual room as well, where our preschoolers numbering 45 could watch educational children’s programs, from my favorite Dora to Sesame Street and Bananas In Pyjamas.

This space would also serve as The Center’s dining room.

With some imagination, the Digicel Foundation has been able to produce classrooms out of discarded containers and distributes them to communities across the country as part of its mother company’s (Digicel PNG) corporate plan to boost education in deprived rural communities across Papua New Guinea.

Each unit costs at least K15,000.

The Tembari Children Center (TCC), a day care and orphanage center, represented the community at ATS Oro Settlement at Seven Mile outside of Port Moresby after Digicel Foundation found it deserving to have two of these CLCs.

They are now benefiting 45 preschoolers who are orphans, abandoned, neglected and unfortunate by learning arithmetic and the alphabet with help from three volunteer teachers.

While two classes of 15 each hold their daily sessions inside the classrooms, the third batch does it under the mango tree next to the CLCs. Whenever it rained, this batch would be sent home, while the two other classes would proceed with their day’s activities.

When Filipino construction Engineer Joselito Buenaventura visited The Center yesterday afternoon, a Saturday, he immediately told me that my problem concerning the timber materials has already been solved.

“I will take care of that,” he told me as he assessed the space where the planned new classroom would materialize.

Joselito, or Joe, a longtime New Zealand resident, works as project site engineer with the Canam Construction Co of New Zealand.

Joe’s company won the K170 million-contract to build two buildings for the Holiday Inn in Port Moresby and he’s overseeing these two projects as project site engineer.

He told me that his client, Johnny Ala, owner of ABC Builders, will provide The Center the needed materials for the new classroom.

“I will draw the classroom plan myself,” Joe said.

Joe came to the village with Cocoy Erbina, ABC Builders construction/project manager, to see the place and to assess how to go about with the planned projects.

I would say yesterday was really a lucky day for The Center and its beneficiary children.

This is because ABC Builders has also agreed to build the concrete platform for our 5,000-liter storage tank and to install The Center’s water connection from the village main water pipe located nearby.

Cocoy told me his company has a lot of extra building materials from previous projects that are just sitting and wasting away at their compound.

“Might as well bring them here (The Center) to make them useful,” he said.

While these discarded materials would no longer have value for ABC Builders, they’re worth a thousand kina or more for us as we would really have to bleed to be able to bring them to our premises.

So from last week’s little setback arising from our inability to afford the cost of the timber materials, things suddenly shot up, went on high gear, not only with the coming of free timber materials but also with the needed labor and expertise to help us realize one of our most vital facilities for the Tembari Children – a new professionally-designed classroom.

You may be wondering how Engineer Joe learned of the Tembari Children Care center while he was in New Zealand with his family.

Weeks before he was to come to PNG for the Holiday Inn building project, Joe was at a loss on how to go about setting up a new home in Port Moresby.

With no contacts in Port Moresby to ask how it is to be a POM resident, he Google-searched for “Filipino, Papua New Guinea”. Immediately, my name came up along with several articles I wrote in the past, particular those I wrote under my online column “Letters from Port Moresby”.

Then, he encountered my blogsite for the Tembari Children – and learned a lot about our activities at The Center, including the many things that our children badly needed.

He emailed me after this, to say once he was able to migrate to Port Moresby in the next several weeks and set up home, one of his first agenda would be to visit The Center and meet our children.

And to see what things he can do to help them.

Yesterday, he came with all the good news for our children.

Jo had worked in several Southeast Asian countries doing projects for Canam Construction, and one of the things he did was to coordinate with local people through whom he carried out outreach programs for the unfortunate children during the duration of his stay in those countries.

In Port Moresby, he saw the Tembari children.

Immediately, he thought about his wife back in New Zealand, who would be joining him in Port Moresby very soon. Like Joe, his wife has a soft heart for the unfortunate children.

“My wife would be very pleased to serve your children, the way you are doing it right now for them,” Joe told me

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