Sunday, September 19, 2010

Lae Biscuits donates flour and the Kiwi guy offers to deliver it to The Center


A Friend of Tembari Children

IMMEDIATELY after Fabian Chow, branch manager of Lae Biscuits at Gerehu, Port Moresby, told me on the phone last Friday that he was going to donate to Tembari children two pallets of whole meal flour – that is 40 bags of 25kg flour – I knew I had a problem.

And the problem was how to bring the goods weighing one ton from Lae Biscuits’ warehouse at Gerehu to The Center at ATS Oro Settlement at Seven-Mile, outside of Port Moresby.

Hauling them in my car – an old Mazda 323 station wagon – is out of the question. However, in most of the donations that were to be picked up, I used my car.

But not this time and not at Gerehu. Days before the last Holy Week, I had the bad luck of being held up around that place when my car broke down after picking up frozen meat donation from Papua Niugini Freezers, which is just a neighbor of Lae Biscuits’.

Mr Chow told me that his company normally donates substantial volume of flour to children facilities like the Tembari Children Care (TCC), a day care and orphanage.

But there’s a catch, and this triggered the problem: I have to pick it up from Lae Biscuits’ warehouse within seven days, or else I forfeit the goods.

So I really have to show up at Lae Biscuits and pick up the donation as soon as possible. But how?

On Saturday morning just before proceeding to The Center for my usual weekend cooking for the Tembari children, I had a chance to chat with Trevor Lyall, the plumbing supervisor of New Zealand-based Canam Constructions, which is constructing two high-rise hotel suite buildings for Holiday Inn.

Trevor happens to be a work colleague of New Zealand-based Filipino construction engineer Joe Buenaventura, who is the project manager of these two high-rise projects.

Joe is a new friend of mine, who is also helping The Center, and that day, he asked me to drop by his work site for a little chat about something important before I proceeded to the settlement.

A Kiwi, who has been here in Port Moresby since the hotel project began this year, Trevor said he had been in the Philippines during his younger days and almost married a Filipino girl, a teacher from Cebu province.

But nothing happened with their engagement even after what he described as “very good relationships with the girl and her family”.

Anyway, Trevor now in his 50s, asked me what I was doing at Seven Mile with all the stuff in my car (donated items like five cartons cordial drink, five containers of purified water, two bags of rice and other stuffs) and I told him about my involvement with the Tembari children, like helping them find donors of foodstuff, money and many more.

“In fact,” I told him, “there’s this one-ton flour donation which has been giving me a headache due to its sheer volume, something I would not be able to deliver to The Center on my own.”

“I can help you with that one,” Trevor casually said, while working on a new door at their makeshift worksite office.

“Let me know when you want the stuff picked up ... I am available this coming week,” he said as he pointed his finger to a white, mini open bed pick-up truck parked just next to where we were chatting.

“That could carry two pallets of your flour.”

“Oh thanks a lot, Lord,” I shouted inside my head, as I thanked Trevor for his offer.

We set the pick-up on Tuesday.

Learning about it, Joe said the Kiwi guy has a soft spot for Filipinos, adding that he has several Filipino friends back in New Zealand where Canam Construction is based.

“I’m not surprised that he offered you some help,” Joe said.

The truth is that while driving on my way to the Holiday Inn worksite to meet my friend Engr Joe Buenaventura, I kept on praying for help to find somebody who could pick up the flour for me.

That prayer was answered in a matter of 30 minutes.

YOU MAY be wondering how Lae biscuits’ general manager Fabian Chow happened to donate a big quantity of flour.

I mentioned to Tee Jay Khoo, a work colleague at The National newspaper where I work, that the Tembari children would also need flour to supplement their monthly rice supply.

I even asked him to donate at least a bag of 10kg a fortnight, which I thought would be enough for the children’s needs. It would be cooked by our volunteer mothers using some local recipes for the kiddos’ noon snacks.

Tee Jay told his friend Cindy Lim, a senior staff at Digicel outlet (Hypermart Gordon), about our flour need.

Cindy has a contact at Lae Biscuits and told him about our needs at The Center.

The message reached Mr Chow, Lae Biscuits’ general manager, and the rest is now history.

Two volunteer mothers cook the day’s lunch -- veggie dish, fried fish fillet and soup.

A volunteer mother tries to build fire by blowing into the smoky stove.

A 30-liter pot boiling mad with special soup spiced with masala (Indian) spices.

Two volunteer mothers frying breaded barracuta fillet which will go with sweet-sour sauce.

Wagi, The Center’s caretaker, and Hayward Sagembo, TCC president, carry a huge pot of masala soup.

Penny Sagembo (center) TCC founder, with volunteer mothers, pours newly-cooked soup into smaller tin cups which will be served to the children shortly.

Filipino Engineer Joe Buenaventura enjoys lunch with the children.

Joe enjoys his lunch while kids look at him with curiosity.

Children eat their lunch of fried breaded barracuta fillet and stir-fry Chinese cabbage, soup and cordial drink.

Girls pose for a picture while having lunch.

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