Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tembari Center’s livelihood scheme winning fans

These three volunteer mothers are among the ten beneficiaries of The Center’s livelihood assistance project.

A Friend of Tembari Children

THE MODEST livelihood assistance program initiated by Tembari Children Care (TCC) for its 10 volunteer mothers is drawing many fans.

They are the enthusiastic mothers from ATS Oro Settlement at Seven-Mile and other settlements around the National Capital District.

They are the so-called underprivileged mothers and housewives.

Penny Sagembo, the project initiator, told me on Saturday during my cooking gig at The Center that she got calls from such mothers expressing interest to join the livelihood assistance program.

By the way, Penny Sagembo founded The Center in 2003, alongwith Rishabh Bhandari and Hayward Sagembo. They painstakingly steered through difficulties – financially and logistically -- until it began winning generous support this year from donors and benefactors, thanks to the trio’s consistent efforts.

But my good friend Penny stressed that the buy-and-sell assistance with initial seed capital of K50 for each of the participants is designed only for parent-guardians with kids beinglooked after at The Center.

This is one way of enabling them to earn some kina which they could use to pay for their foster-children’s daily bus fares in going to school in Port Moresby and coming back to the settlement and for their daily school snacks.

At the same time, it could also help them earn money to buy food for the family.

At present, The Center has 42 schoolchildren attending classes in 11elementary schools around Port Moresby and once in a while, a number of foster parents of these pupils would ask for bus fare assistance or biscuit money from The Center.

TCC paid for their school fees this year through funding from WeCaRe!, a foundation operated by retired priest, Fr John Glynn.

But Penny said The Center has no money for such an expense because what it got right now is solely allotted to the daily feeding of the 97 children under its care.

The Center does not only feed them once a day, but twice – once at noon time as snacks for the 45 preschoolers in the form of bread baked by our volunteer mothers and early dinner at 4-5pm, of rice and tinned fish and veggies, served to both its preschoolers and schoolchildren who returned from the city schools.

Aside from the K50 seed capital, Penny also opened a bank account with the PNG Micro-Finance for each of the 10 mother-participants with an initial deposit of K50.

It’s one thing commercial banks in Port Moresby would not let them do.

In all, The Center has lent each mother K100 for a total of K1,000, an amount that she drew against some funds from donors.

Livelihood assistance to its beneficiaries is among the goals for which TCC has been formed and registered with the Investment Promotion Authority (IPA).

Under the scheme, each of the volunteer mothers would pay back K20 every fortnight and at the same time depositing an amount to their bank accounts from income made through selling betel nuts, smoke, lollies, candies and many others.

One beneficiary-mother proudly told me that everyday, she would make K80 from her sale. Of this, she would keep K30 and roll back the rest for the next day’s business. In effect, she’s making K30 a day or K210 during the seven-day buying-and-selling.

Penny said: They are going great … they already settled their first fortnight repayment and has some money waiting to be deposited to their accounts.

Once The Center has recouped the seed capital of K1,000, a new batch of 10 mothers from the settlement with foster-children at The Center will follow suit.

According to PNG Micro-Finance, once the mothers have saved at least K300, they become eligible to borrow a seed capital of the same amount, under certain lending terms. But the interest would be very minimal.

Right now, the next batch of would-be-borrowers from Oro settlement has already been screened and will be the next to get on board.
With the bright prospect of this livelihood program, we are inclined to look for donors who would be able to help us expand this project.

This way, we would be able to help more foster parents earn daily income, and thus deal with their everyday money woes gradually.

Based on the performance of the first batch of 10 mother-volunteers, the scheme is working.

And because of this, it looks like their daily income, however small it would seem, is helping a lot with their everyday household expenses.

They no longer have to ask for bus fares and snack money from The Center for their schoolchildren.

And the good thing is that the livelihood assistance is propping them up to become self-sufficient little by little.

Effectively, the culture of frugality by being able to save an amount however small it is, is being instilled among them.

In simple words, such modest livelihood assistance is giving meaning to the much-abused and often empty word “women empowerment”.

We have just empowered these 10 mothers to launch themselves towards the bumpy road to self-sufficiency, an opportunity seldom available to many deprived individuals, especially settlement mothers.

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