Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tembari children frolic under the sun

The Tembari contingent comprising 97 kids enters the picnic venue led by three kids proudly displaying the Tembari Children Care logo banner. The last batch among 13 other delegations to arrive, our kids made a dramatic entrance, drawing attention from everybody. They made up the biggest group that attended the picnic party. (More pictures after the story.)

A Friend of Tembari Children

ON SATURDAY, the Tembari children attended a Christmas picnic.

They came in full force as they showed up at the Christmas outdoor party organized by WeCaRe! foundation at the Taurama Leisure Center at 3-Mile in Port Moresby.

It was a gathering of more than 500 abandoned and orphaned children from 13 soup kitchens operating in settlements outside Port Moresby.

Arriving last at the picnic ground, the 97-member Tembari contingent made a dramatic entrance led by three kids who proudly displayed the Tembari Children Care (TCC) Inc banner bearing its crudely designed logo.

Theirs was the biggest group among the 13 feeding programs that had been invited by WeCaRe! foundation. The truth is that eight of the 105 children invited were unable to attend for one reason of the other.

The Tembari group comprised orphans, abandoned and neglected children at the ATS Oro Settlement, at 7-Mile outside of Port Moresby.

The whole affair was bankrolled by Digicel Foundation, the charity arm of cell phone provider Digicel PNG.

Last Saturday’s outdoor party was their first and last for the year 2010. In December 2009, they were also invited to a similar outdoor Christmas party by WeCaRe! and Digicel Foundation.

The Tembari children had never had an opportunity during the year to go out of the settlement to have fun except for the Taurama Christmas picnic party.

It was a day of frolic for the Tembari kids.

So it was not surprising for them to be seen all over the place to the chagrin of their monitors – the volunteer mothers who were assigned to control their movements at the picnic ground premises.

Digicel Foundation really made it memorable for all of the children who came to the party.

There were more than enough hotdogs, cordial drinks, fresh apples and ice cream. And parlor games.

Anchored by Miss Digicel, one group of Tembari kids joined a parlor game called balloon race participated in by four other groups, and won the contest during the second set. Our kids were awarded a packet of lollies.

And the chance of meeting Santa Claus became a new experience for many kids – they were scared and they grimaced to a cry upon meeting face to face with the red-suited, white-bearded man who wore a red cap.

Each of the children received Christmas presents – schoolbags with some kiddy stuff inside.

Apparently, Digicel Foundation has planned it this way because the schoolbags would be useful in the next school year.

In a statement, founder and patron of the WeCaRe! foundation Fr John Glynn said during the party: This is a special treat for the many children from settlements and streets who are orphaned, abandoned, neglected and who feel rejected and unloved.

“WeCaRe! foundation strives to create such a vision where children and women in these situations through support and care can become, good, decent, valued and productive citizens of PNG.”

Digicel Foundation chief executive Marina van der Vlies said: We are proud to be supporting the WeCaRe! foundation’s work in helping disadvantaged children around Port Moresby.

“We believe that our continued support of WeCaRe! will go a long way in making this Christmas a special occasion for all those children who may not get a chance to celebrate otherwise.

“We will do our best to put a smile on every child’s face this Christmas with the Digicel Santa and his helpers on hand with a bag full of surprises for all the children,” said Ms van der Vlies.

Easily noticed, it was only the Tembari contingent that brought lunch food to the party – which was anyway consumed by the members of the group, after having cordial drinks and hotdogs, courtesy of Digicel Foundation.

The Tembari lunch was sponsored by Nanga Medical Center, Hideaway Hotel, Pacific Industries and Aqua 5 (purified water). The food was partly funded by WeCaRe!.

When Don Manaloto, the Filipino expat general manager of Hideaway, learned of our outing last Friday, he immediately instructed his chef (Gerry) to prepare pastries and bread rolls for the 105 children.

I picked up two boxes of the foodstuff on Saturday morning straight from the hotel kitchen and drove them off to the picnic venue.

But the Tembari children’s presence at the party would not be possible without the biggest assistance that they had received on that they -- a 25-seater yellow shuttle bus provided by AutoZeal, an automotive company based in Port Moresby.

AutoZeal chief executive Bernard George told me that he did not want our children to miss this important event in their lives, especially when they would celebrating with other unfortunate children the joy of the Christmas season.

A day before the picnic party, Mr George asked me if we had a driver for the shuttle bus, and I told him “none”.

It was quite a problem because that day – a Friday – none of the company drivers was available –meaning they were away and could not be contacted until early in the night.

But Mr George promised to me that there will be a driver by next morning as he scrambled to know where his missing drivers were.

He knew it was a Friday, and the usual Friday sickness among Papua New Guinean workers was at work again.

True to his word, Joseph, one of them, finally showed up to carry out the job of shuttling the Tembari kids from The Center at the settlement to the picnic party venue and back home, later in the afternoon.

When I meet him just before 8am, Joseph was sprucing up his yellow bus, making sure his little passengers would all be comfortable during the 20-minute trip to the picnic venue from the settlement.

And he had to make three trips to bring them all to the party. And back home.

So all is well that went well.

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Facebook: Search for Alfredo Hernandez for Tembari pictures

The entire picnic venue is dotted by red tents from Digicel PNG, a cell phone provider.

Blogger APH with the kids while waiting outside of the picnic venue for the third batch of kids to arrive from the settlement.

The 25-seater yellow shuttle bus provided by AutoZeal, an automotive company based in Port Moresby, PNG.

The shuttle bus leaves Taurama picnic venue after the party.

Tembari kid Melanie, 8, with Santa Claus. She receives a Christmas present – school backpack.

Blogger APH poses in front of a kiosk while waiting for the Tembari contingent tent to be installed by Digicel staff.

Fr John Glynn (center), founder and patron of WeCaRe! foundation with Marina van der Vlies, CEO of Digicel Foundation and a friend.

Hayward Sagembo, TCC president, and Fr John Glynn.

Penny Sagembo (second from left), manning the Tembari foodline.

Tembari kids meet Santa Claus after which they receive their Christmas present of school backpack.

A boy getting his face painted.

Two Tembari girls display their face painted with “I Love Digicel” slogan.

Miss Digicel toys with her red balloon.

A balloon race participated in by Tembari kids. Miss Digicel is seen at the end of the line, signifying that this group wins the game

Tembari kids crowding over the ice cream man.

Tembari kids display their Christmas presents from Digicel Foundation – school backpacks. Seated in the front row are preschoolers while those in higher school levels are at the back.

The Tembari logo banner proudly hangs in front of the tent. – All pictures by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

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