Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Tembari Kids, Marina and the Digicel Foundation

A Friend of Tembari Children

ON Wednesday, the Tembari children received visitors from Digicel and Myanmar, whose coming was initiated by Digicel Foundation.

The Digicel executives from overseas units came with business executives from Myanmar who could be possibly looking at the operations of PNG’s No. 1 cell phone network.

I can assume that the Myanmar delegation would like to find out if Digicel could also come in to their country as a cell phone provider.

But the foundation’s CEO, Marina Van der Vlies, has always seen to it that their foreign guests would also have to see how the Digicel Foundation works around the country.

And the Tembari Center is one convenient place for them to see in Port Moresby, one place which is worthwhile to spend their time on.

But whatever it was, I will leave it that way.

The Digicel Foundation, since its founding, has been very active in promoting the cause of its beneficiaries around the country.

One of them is the Tembari Children Center (TCC) which was given last year two units of community learning centers (CLS) to boost its preschool program.

The CLCs are actually classrooms fashioned out of junk container vans. After being appropriately fitted out, a unit would easily cost K15,000.

The CLC classroom scheme is brilliant. It could easily be transferred to a friendly location should the landowners in the area where it has been installed decided to harass the foundation in their hope that they could rip it off it for money.

But as far as the CLCs at Tembari Center is concerned, their tenure is safe since the property where the facility operates is covered by a 99-year lease, in the name of the Tembari Children Care (TCC).

Thanks to the foundation, which is being actively fronted by Marina, The Center is able to provide early education to our 45 children, who are orphans, neglected, abandoned and unfortunate.

Last Wednesday’s visit was another red-letter day for The Center, which is right now experiencing a steady growth in terms of support from benefactors and in acquisition of basic facilities.

Maybe because of the fast-paced developments at the center, thus leaving the rest of Digicel CLCs around the country by miles, Marina finds it worthwhile to bring VIPs to Tembari Center once in a while for a quick look-see.

It appears to me now that The Center is gradually becoming a showcase for Digicel Foundation’s program to bring education to the grassroots.

The early training that The Center provides to its preschoolers through the three volunteer teachers is doing wonder in their disposition and spirits.

Our preschoolers, along with the rest of the 52 children under our care, are now finding sense in their lives.

And this is what The Center is all about.

In an email to me yesterday, Marina provided some more details of the foreign executives’ visit:

“Yes we had some visitors from Digicel and Myanmar to have a look at Digicel’s operations in PNG including the work of the Foundation.

“We showed them some different projects including the Community Learning Centre in Talai, the Womens Resource Centre in Kaugere and the mobile clinic the Digicel Foundation has funded in partnership with Foursquare church.

“They were impressed especially about the level of ownership the community has taken over their Community Resource Center and the fact that community members volunteer to teach the children, cook the food and are engaged in other CLC activities for the benefit of their community.

It is also great to see and hear that other corporates have come on board to help out and support the Tembari Children.

“The visit was really about sharing experiences and learning from each other.”

Oh yes! It was Marina who introduced me to the Tembari Children one Christmas day in 2009.

What ever happened after that between me and the children has become a beautiful, on-going story.

And I really love to tell you about it every week.

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Visitors from Digicel units overseas and from Myanmar listen to the Tembari preschoolers belting out a nursery song with guitar accompaniment from Wagi, the Center’s caretaker. – Digicelpic

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