Sunday, October 17, 2010

Saddest Saturday for Tembari children

A usual scene at The Center every Saturday when the kids are seated on the dining tables while waiting for a special lunch to be served. On Saturday, this did not happen after the Saturday cook, APH, failed to come as he did not have a vehicle to use in coming to the settlement.


A Friend of Tembari Children

I FELT BAD, and I am still right now, for being unable to cook lunch for the kids on Saturday.

I knew they had looked forward to this day because it was only this time when they could have a decent meal. And as always, they had anticipated sipping a nice hot soup before special lunch is served.

And for my part, I have pledged to myself I would do this without fail, save for the time when I would be going home to Manila for my four-week annual leave, which comes in April.

And this was made possible by individuals who “sponsored” the food I cooked every Saturday.

Those who know of my Saturday gig at The Center with the Children could only comment: “Freddie, that’s a tough job you’re doing for the children …”

This had been the first day ever that I missed cooking for them. I began this Saturday special lunch cooking 10 months ago when I realized that the Tembari Children during those days were not eating proper meal.

The reason was that The Center did not get assistance it is getting now, especially foodstuff and materials.

But I blame nothing for what has happened and continuously happening.

My 20-year-old car – a station wagon Mazda 323 -- that had allowed me to move around and collect donations every Friday, buy foodstuff that would go into the lunch of the Tembari children and brought me every Saturday morning to The Center at the heart of ATS Oro Settlement, at 7-Mile outside of Port Moresby, has finally given up.

When it stopped dead after its distributor system conked out due to old age, and no junkshops and surplus car parts stores in Port Moresby could provide a replacement part, a lot of things at the Tembari Center seemed to have stopped.

There were donations to be collected last Friday but I was unable to do so, including that purified drinking water that I usually brought to The Center on Saturday.

I was afraid the children did not have water to drink after their lunch of rice and tinned fish on Saturday.

There’s a water crisis at the settlement and obtaining drinking water has been the most difficult for our volunteer mothers.

For Saturday’s lunch, I called Penny Sagembo, the Co-Founder and Co-President of Tembari Children Care (TCC) center – and requested her to have something for lunch.

The kids had expected to have a nice lunch, as always, thinking that I would be coming over, like what I had done every Saturday over the last nine and half months.

But I did not.

So our volunteer mothers just prepared a meal of tinned fish and rice, something that they usually have from Monday to Friday.

Now car-less, and the prospect of being one really persisted, I can’t call potential donors to follow up on a number of stuff that I have solicited on behalf of the Tembari children.

One reason is that, should they make available the requested items, I may not be able to pick them up, which I felt could disappoint them.

For instance, there’s a donation of eight cartons of cordial drink from Coca-Cola Amatil that is due for this month. However, I can’t arrange to have it released since I have no means to haul them off from its depot at Gordon, and bring them to The Center at the settlement.

Ten cartons of flavored milk at SVS supermarket, a cheque from the Children’s Foundation covering a monthly grant, five containers of purified water from The Water Company and another four cartons of cordial drink from Pacific Industries are waiting to be picked up.

I don’t want to ask friends to help out, knowing it would be a lot of hassle.

Truly, it has been a big setback for us – especially for the Tembari Children.

I did not expect something like this could happen, including a car that could go dead for good.

There are people ready to give, and continue to give for the sake of the Tembari Children; it is an assurance that service towards their well-being would be sustained.

But there are also gremlins that could pop their heads even in broad-day light and spoil everything.

Early last week, they just did it.

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