Sunday, September 19, 2010

Water crisis at The Center

A Friend of Tembari Children

THE Center has been hit by water crisis and is trying its best to cope with the dry situation to be able to properly provide the usual services to our 97 beneficiary children.

A few days ago, the ATS Oro Settlement at 7-Mile outside of Port Moresby, went dry after water agency Eda Ranu temporarily cut off its service to the area to carry out massive repair work somewhere at Erima outside of the settlement area.

Eda Ranu representatives met with settlement residents on Saturday to explain what happened and to assure them that the village association - Oro Community Development Association (OCDA) -- was up-to-date with its water bill payments.

When the news spread across the settlement that water service was cut off, people immediately suspected that the water bills have not been paid by the association.

This was not the case, according to Eda Ranu representatives, saying the fault was theirs.

They explained that a huge water main that passes by the Wildlife area was broken and causing a massive water leak that has to be fixed immediately.

The water agency said it could take a few more days before water service is restored, which means the settlement’s more than 6,000 residents would struggle for water until the big repair work has been completed.

The association, which exclusively operates the water concession at the settlement, collects K14 from households accessing water from the village’s “water station”, or simply water taps.

No water user at the settlement could install connection from the water main for household use without getting clearance and paying K500 to the village association.

There are a few “water stations” around the settlement where settlers and water users like Tembari Children Care (TCC) Inc, a day care/orphanage facility, access water.

The Center, for instance, pays a minimum of K14 for the water it accesses every fortnight. The same amount is paid by the rest of the users who collect the liquid in buckets and in big plastic drums.

Now, The Center is having a hard time with water for use in cooking our beneficiary children’s daily meals.

The truth is that accessing water has already been difficult for The Center.

Our volunteer-mothers collected water from the village’s water station some 300 meters from The Center and most of the time, water was not available.

OCDA, arrogant as it has been all these years, would decide when to let the water flow. There had never been a fixed time when water would come so that users would know when to expect it.

Most of the time, our volunteer mothers would stay late in the night waiting for water to come.

Until water service is restored, hopefully middle of this week, The Center shall be collecting water from a household tap outside the settlement and it has to spend at least K5 for the cost of water and another K5 to transport it to The Center.

With 97 children now under our care, we need a lot of water with which to cook the meals and clean the utensils, plates, cups and all after every feeding.

Yesterday during my feeding session with the children, I almost agreed to volunteer mothers’ suggestion that we skipped the children’s hand washing – a daily routine just before eating their meal.

But knowing how dirty their hands had become from the time they arrived at The Center in the morning up to lunch time, I decided that we should ask the children to wash their hands.

This little problem came up due to our water difficulty.

But of course, during weekdays – that is from Monday to Friday – I am very sure the children would not be asked anymore until regular water service is restored.

So, we are back to zero with our little education on hygiene practices.

Likewise, clean water for drinking has become another issue that The Center would have to deal with.

It is only on Saturday when our children could have purified water for drinking.

This water, which I bring to The Center in four to five containers, is being provided once a week by The Water Company, a bottler based in Gordon.

On weekdays, they have to make do with whatever drinking water – clean or contaminated – The Center could have.

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