Sunday, October 24, 2010

AutoZeal of Port Moresby comes to our rescue

Tembari children line up for the goodies.

Tembari children eagerly help out to remove from the car 10 cartons of flavored milk donated by SVS Supermart. This car had been idled for almost two weeks due to a dead distributor system which proved so difficult to replace.

Kids removing from the car containers of purified water donated by The Water Company.

nthusiastic kids carry foodstuff taken from the car which will go to their lunch on Saturday.

A Friend of Tembari Children

HERE’S A LITTLE story for those who believe in prayers and those who don’t.

For the believers, this tale would serve as an affirmation of their fate to every prayer they make; for the doubters, it could be another file to sit deeply in their consciousness, much less another of those experiences heard from friends, which they could later call for review and analysis out of curiosity.

For almost two weeks until last Thursday, my 20-year-old car, a white Mazda 323 Station Wagon, had been disabled due to a dead distributor system.

It’s this part of a vehicle engine which receives electricity from the battery and distributes it to the engine through the spark plugs.

This process is the one that fires up the petrol and circulate the heat produced within the engine system – the heat becoming a compressed power that moves the pistons, and thus turns the engine’s rotating parts to roll and makes the car run.

Well, being a layman car-user, this was how I had understood it.

My car’s distributor system could no longer perform this function owing to its age -- it had never been replaced since the car went on the road more than 20 years ago.

A second buyer, I have been using this car for the last 14 years, to the chagrin of my friends who are familiar with its frequent breakdowns, something that had put my life in danger.

(One Friday just before Holy Week this year, I was driving around Gerehu Stage 4 on my way home, with some donated stuff which I picked up at Papua Niugini Freezers (PNF), when its clutch gave way, causing the car to stall along the road. While waiting for my friend to come so he could tow it, armed raskols came and hit me.)

When the car conked out due to expired distributor system, my Filipino mechanic and car-repair shop owner Lito, scrambled to find a replacement.

Knowing my activities at the Tembari Children Care center, he was concerned; without my car, he knew I would be grounded, which means a number of people – the Tembari children, in particular -- would be affected.

Like me, his wife Susan is also involved in a feeding program for kids at Tokarara and has sympathized with me with regards to my own Saturday feeding activities.

Lito had gone to all used-car parts dealers in Port Moresby but to no avail; he even checked with his contacts at car-wreckers shops in the city for this piece of junk.

Chop-chop shops are usually the last place where mechanics looked for rare parts, hoping that they could be available. But this time, they did not serve the purpose.

Although the mechanic found three sets of the same make which were hoped to match my car’s disabled distributor system, their serial numbers did not. So, none really worked.

In my desperation, I prayed a lot over this, asking my Lord to please help us find it.

At the same time, I posted an item about this problem on my blogsite to inform supporters and benefactors of the Tembari Children and those who would care.

For us at The Center, my car going “bagarap” was a big thing.

During those days that it was sitting at the car shop and gathering dust without the prospect of being resurrected, I was not able to collect donations for the Tembari children.

One regular donor, the High Energy Co, a fishing group exporting frozen marine products, was quite concerned about the problem as I was unable to take in its frozen fish delivery.

Another supporter had even offered to provide me transport in going to ATS Oro Settlement at Seven-Mile where The Center is located, so I could continue with my work.

But I explained there were other involved peripheral errands for Tembari children which I could not accomplish without the car.

In short, the car doubles as my personal transport and a delivery vehicle of donated stuffs – food and materials, including drinking water for our 97 kids. Meanwhile, I had requested my company’s transport service for a daily pick up from my house to the workplace, and back.

My biggest frustration was that for two Saturdays, I was unable to cook special lunch for the children. It was only during the weekend that they are able to eat a decent meal, courtesy of friends and supporters who would sponsor the materials that go into this meal.

Meantime, I stopped calling donors because I was worried that I may not be able to collect whatever donations they had prepared, and thus, disappointing them.

With all these misfortunes, everything stopped at The Center, something which I considered a big setback in our day to day operations, although our daily feeding – from Monday to Friday – went on, using foodstuff donations that were earlier delivered to The Center.

Meanwhile, I kept praying that this particular part that my car badly needed could become available despite the prospects that there’s was no hope at all, unless it was imported from Singapore at great cost, according to my mechanic.

In fact, he already placed an order through one of the auto parts dealers in Port Moresby.

Early last week, I received an email from one of my blogsite’s readers.

He said he read my blog and wanted to know the status of the car. He said, if I would allow them to look into the disabled distributor system, they would be able to restore it and have it running again.

Indian expat Bernard George, chief executive of AutoZeal, an automotive company in Port Moresby, told me: I was concerned that you are unable to further your work with the Tembari children.

“I have been reading your blog,” he told me on the phone.

“We will restore your car … at my company’s cost because I want you to continue with your work for the children …”

Immediately on the same day, he sent his technicians to my mechanic’s car shop at Hohola to have a look at my car, particularly the distributor system.

It was really dead for good, the mechanic had found out after tinkering with it at his shop at AutoZeal.

But Bernard’s car shop has another option: they can modify a similar distributor system, something which his modification experts immediately plunged into.

He told me on the phone that before Friday (last Friday), I could have my car again.

On Thursday afternoon, Lito, the mechanic, called me to say he was about to test drive the car.

“Oh, really …? How …?” I asked stupidly in my excitement.

“AutoZeal modified another distributor system and made it work … come to the shop now and get your car …”

Bernard called me again, saying they would like to have the car checked once more to make sure everything was doing well, and suggested that I bring the car to AutoZeal service shop.

Meeting me in person, he told me: “Keep it up … a lot of kids is depending on you …”

I thanked him profusely.

But I did not tell him about my prayer.

(To know the various automotive services AutoZeal offers, please visit

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