Sunday, October 10, 2010

Livelihood program for Tembari volunteer mothers

The 10 volunteer mothers of The Center display their Micro-Finance bank savings passbooks while Penny Sagembo (back) founder of the Tembari Children Care (TCC) center looks.

A Friend of Tembari Children

THE Center made another small leap forward last week by helping its 10 volunteer mothers help themselves.

Using some money from donated funds, the Tembari Children Care (TCC) has rolled out its own version of a livelihood assistance project for the volunteer mothers who are now engaged in small buying-and-selling business at the settlement.

TCC founder Penny Sagembo has set aside K1,000 to hit two targets.

With the first K500, she helped the 10 mothers opened a savings bank account with PNG Micro-Finance, each receiving a savings passbook with a starting savings balance of K50.

Then, the other K500 was equally divided to the volunteer mothers – or K50 each – as The Center’s livelihood assistance so they could start with some small business activities in the settlement that would enable them to generate daily income.

In short, each mother has secured a K100 livelihood assistance, for a total of K1,000 which they will to repay from their profits at the rate of K20 a fortnight.

According to Micro-Finance, the Tembari volunteer mothers belong to a group which usually does not receive services from commercial banks like opening a savings bank accounts.

The main reason is that they are simply financially handicapped.

Every fortnight, the mothers will have to repay the seed capital and the initial saving account balance at the rate of K20 from their daily profits. Then, they would also set aside an amount that would go into their savings accounts.

Once a mother participant has an accumulated savings of K300, she becomes eligible to apply for a K300 seed capital at low interest to expand her buy-and-sell activities.

“Some of the mothers started selling their wares early last week and are doing good … they have already set aside the first K20 from their profit to repay the seed capital and another amount which they would deposit in their individual bank accounts,” Penny said.

The mothers are engaged in buying and selling betelnuts, smokes, lollies and vegetables among others and they sell them at the flea market at the settlement.

“Once a participant mother has saved a total of K300 in her bank account, Micro-Finance would now make available to her a soft loan of K300, or an amount it would determine so she could use it to expand her buy-and-sell business,” Penny said.

The mother participants, who are single mothers and considered by TCC as financially-handicapped, have children among the 97 beneficiaries of The Center’s day care services.

Penny said the mothers could use part of their profits for the immediate needs of their schoolchildren like bus fares and school snacks.

These schoolchildren numbering 42 are among those being looked after by TCC by feeding them everyday and paying for their school fees with help from WeCaRe!, a funding institution operated by retired priest Fr John Glynn.

After attending the day’s classes in 11 elementary and primary schools around Port Moresby, they come home to The Center in the afternoon to have early dinner, before going home to their guardian parents for the night.

Penny said TCC could not afford to pay for the schoolchildren’s daily bus fares and snacks, but by providing the guardian parents a means to earn, they (parents) would be able to meet their foster-children’s daily needs.

The K1,000 seed money came from funds donated by charity groups and funding institutions.

Once the 10 mothers had repaid TCC, another batch of 10 underprivileged settlement mothers would follow suit under the same scheme.

I say kudos to Penny for continuously thinking of ways and means to help the Tembari children and their guardians. It’s something that she has been doing for them since 2003, when she founded TCC and operated it at great personal sacrifice.

Now, this livelihood scheme is one feather added to her cap, which has been gathering feathers since 10 months ago.

Indeed, it’s a small step that The Center has just taken.

And just to think that 10 mothers are now on their way to being able to become self-sufficient through this humble means … it’s quite amazing!

In short, 10 mothers are gradually being plucked from their sheer helplessness, and maybe out of their poverty.

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