Sunday, October 10, 2010

My car conks out and it affects a lot of people; Hideaway Hotel makes our day

The special dish catered by Hideaway Hotel for the Tembari children. More pictures below story.

A Friend of Tembari Children

EARLY last week, my car broke down and this misfortune in my life has also affected a lot of people.

A 20-year-old car, its distributor system conked out for good and my mechanic has failed to find a replacement, with the car parts stores all over Port Moresby saying: It’s a very old car… parts won’t come by easily … time to retire it …”

With no vehicle to enable me to do many errands for the Tembari children, I am practically crippled.

The usual Friday afternoon super-marketing I do for foodstuff and ingredients that would go into the children’s special lunch the next day – a Saturday – has become impossible. This means that I would not be able to go to The Center to cook for the kids.

It is only on a Saturday that the Tembari children are able to have a decent lunch which is sponsored by two individuals chipping in K150 each.

Not only that. It’s on a Friday that I would collect all sorts of donations that I would bring to The Center the next day. And that car has doubled as The Center’s delivery truck – on occasions carrying several bags of rice, cartons of cordial drinks or tinned fish, etc etc.

One important routine that I normally do on a Friday is to pick up five containers of purified water – a donation from The Water Company. Last Friday I was not able to do that.

The result? The kids had their lunch without tasting a single drop of water.

The settlement’s water service operated by the village association, as usual, remains hopeless – water did not come at the time agreed upon, to the chagrin of many people whose buckets and plastic containers made a long line in front of the dry tap.

Our volunteer mothers came back to The Center with empty buckets.

Feeling bad that I would not be able to bring food to The Center for the next day’s feeding – a Saturday choir that I have been doing since last January – I was forced on Friday night to call a Filipino expatriate who manages the Hideaway Hotel at 6-Mile.

It was my last resort – the only option to save the children’s day. The kids have been used to having a nice lunch every Saturday – something very much different from what they usually have for a meal from Monday to Friday.

I told him my problem – beginning from the car breakdown, to the foodstuff and ingredients for the next day’s feeding program that I was unable to buy.

“Can you ask your chef to prepare something for the kids’ lunch tomorrow?” I asked him shamelessly, without preamble.

“How many kids are we talking about …?” Don Manaloto, the general manager of Hideaway hotel, asked back without making further questions.

“At least 97, plus seven volunteer mothers … do you think this is workable …?” I asked back.

“Okay … not a problem …” Don replied, adding: “I will tell the kitchen to do some nice dish and have it delivered before lunch time … you said 11am, right?”

But then, I wanted to come to The Center to do other things. Earlier, I had planned to teach the volunteer mother assigned to cook the children’s daily meals how to make bread, using yeast.

We have a huge flour stock, a donation from Lae Biscuits that we have to consume immediately before bugs and weevils beat us on it.

But this one may not push through that day as I won’t be able to go to The Center.

But luckily, a friend wanted to meet the Tembari children on Saturday and to bring them a carton of ice cream, so I asked him to pick me up at home, explaining that I was, and still, car-less.
On our way to The Center, I got a call from Hayward Sagembo, Co-Founder and Director of Tembari Children Care (TCC), to say that food from Hideaway Hotel just arrived. He asked if I f I was coming. I said I was on the way now.

The catered lunch was great – chicken stew with lots of meat and potatoes and gravy. The diners– numbering 90 kids – enjoyed the food enormously.

Since there was no water to drink (we even skipped the kids’ hands washing as there was no water to spare), I told the volunteer mothers to give them milk instead, just to have something to wash the food down their throats.

I don’t know how long it would take the mechanic to find the parts that would resurrect my car. I have been using this junk for the last 14 years that it should really be retired now – for good.

But that is out of the question.

Penny Sagembo, TCC Co-Founder and Co-President, apportioning to the 90 kids who came for lunch on Saturday.

A volunteer mother serving lunch to the kids.

Children enjoying their lunch despite having no water to drink.

These two water coolers are empty due to water crisis at the village.

Empty milk packs strewn under the table while mothers prepare to serve milk to the children to take the place of drinking water.

A volunteer mother scoops chocolate ice cream for the children.

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