Sunday, November 14, 2010

150 kids dined at The Center on Thursday

Three pots cooking at the same time. One is boiling ham-masala soup, another is for rice and the third is for curry corned beef. (More pictures after the story.)

A Friend of Tembari Children

LAST THURSDAY, about 150 children came to The Center for dinner food, out of the usual 98 who are the registered beneficiaries of the Tembari Children’s Care (TCC) day care/orphanage facility.

The excess diners were village children who must have discovered there was no food at home for the night, and The Center was there only hope for something to eat – something that could last them over night.

What added to the bizarre situation was that the skies opened up and dumped all the rains it could that afternoon, and again The Center had become their shelter from the downpour.

I immediately considered this as a symbolism of what we do for the unfortunate kids of ATS Oro Settlement at 7-Mile, outside of Port Moresby.

That Thursday afternoon, I received a call from one of the volunteers in charge of cooking meals at The Center alerting me to the situation – meaning, there were 150 kids to feed and the food budget for that day would be shot.

Everyday, we normally cook 10kg of rice plus lots of tinned fish enough to cover the dinner meal of our wards. The extra diners represented half of our registered beneficiary children.
“Do we drive them away …?” I was asked, trying to imagine how mad the rain was belting down that moment.

And beside we don’t have enough space for everybody at The Center to keep them away from getting wet, so it was a problem.

But the additional food that we have to spare was the one that concerned us all.

“No … let them stay for the food … just use another 5kg of rice and some tinned fish so everybody could eat,” I told the volunteer who works as the caretaker of the facility.

So, yesterday during my Saturday cooking at The Center in which I cooked a carton of corned beef and ham-masala soup, I asked the volunteer mothers about last Thursday afternoon’s incident.

“Fredo …They just came here (The Center) from all over the village and wanted to eat with our children …” a mother whom I call Kairuku -- although that’s not her name but having come from that village with the same name, I decided to call her that -- told me.

“Maybe they had no food in the house that night, so they came over here because they knew we cook for our own children everyday … maybe their parents had asked them to drop by here and have some food …”

“Okay … that’s settled for now …” I said.

Then I asked: “How do we avoid the same situation from happening?” I asked, referring to the sudden surge of village children to The Center.

“No, we can’t … they just pop up here and it would be quite heartless for us to do that …” butted in Hayward, the president of TCC.

But he said he will see to it that the caretaker at The Center would try to screen immediately all the kids showing up for dinner. Those who don’t belong could be advised to go home instead, before they could settle themselves at the dining tables.

You see, dear readers, we feed our children twice a day – something of a feat for a fledgling soup kitchen like the Tembari day care and orphanage facility.

At noon, our mothers bake bread early in the day for our preschoolers who finish classes by noon. The freshly baked bread is their usual noontime snacks.

Then, by 3pm our mothers begin cooking dinner meal of rice and tinned fish for everybody – our 45 preschoolers and 42 other kids attending the primary schools at 11 schools around Port Moresby.

About this time, our elementary children start coming home to The Center for their early dinner with our preschoolers.

And such an event at The Center is something never missed by village children who could go hungry at home by the time nightfall comes, especially when their parents are unable to bring food to the table for dinner.

In fact, this is the usual “talk of the town”, so to speak, at ATS Oro Settlement

And everything boils down to the continuing support we receive from our kindhearted benefactors, supporters and donors.

For this, I personally owe all of you a big ONE.

ontainers of donated purified water.

Melanie, one of the Tembari kids, helping out to cook the soup.

Moms cooking the dish for Saturday’s especial lunch.

Preschool kids playing inside the classroom while waiting for lunch.

Kids playing marbles while waiting for lunch.

Kids kill time chatting while waiting for lunch.

Kids are alive with their hands raised.

Melanie (center) and the other girls are getting hungry now.

Children in line wait to have their hands washed before lunch.

The ham-masala soup is now boiling to the brim.

Two volunteer men build a kitchen table.

Volunteer moms straining flour to remove bugs and weevils.

At last, lunch is cooked and moms prepare to serve it to the hungry children.

Volunteer mom shaping bread for baking.

volunteer mom removes freshly baked bread from the oven.

And she’s showing it off for all the world to see…

Volunteer mom tends to a cooking bread pudding.

Freshly steamed bread pudding made of biscuit flour.

Kids finally eat their special Saturday lunch of curry corned beef, ham-masala soup and cordial drink.

A group of kids having lunch.

Wagi, The Center caretaker (right) eats with the children.

Preschool kids eat their lunch inside their classroom.

A long line of kids waiting for their cordial drinks.

Three hollow block dirty stoves .. what is left after cooking is done. – All pictures by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

Email the writer:

No comments:

Post a Comment