Sunday, January 30, 2011

The cost of being transparent: Tembari lost a supporter

Volunteer moms and children crowding themselves out at the back of the car to collect cartons of tinned fish donated by RD Tuna and other goodies. – Picture by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

A Friend of Tembari Children

WHEN I launched www.tembari.blogspot in May 2010 as my venue for updating our benefactors, supporters, donors and interested parties on developments concerning our beneficiary children, I made it a point to be transparent with the assistance we received, whether it was money, foodstuff, materials and assistance.

That’s why I disclosed in my blogs funding and food assistance as they came.

By the end of the year, we lost a vital supporter, costing us at a monthly grant of K400 in food assistance and at least K9,450 in school fees for school year 2011.

Until now, I am still trying to seek potential sponsors who would be willing to pay the school fees of our 62 schoolchildren in some 12 schools across Port Moresby. And to think that the school year is to start on Monday, February 7, it gives us a lot of pressure.

Aware of funding assistance that the Tembari Children’s Care (TCC) was receiving from a host of individuals, business houses and foundations, WeCaRe!, a foundation, took the mistaken notion that The Center was doing alright and that it no longer deserved its assistance.

With this, ex-Irish priest John Glynn, founder and operator of WeCaRe! just simply cut his funding assistance towards Tembari. (One gratifying public comment he made however, was that the Tembari Center has progressed so well ahead of its counterparts in the country in just one year because of the generous assistance it received.)

Or maybe, we could have also lost more potential assistance from among those who have read my blogs last year numbering to some 9,500 because they decided to change heart about helping us, believing that we were doing well. (At the time of this writing, exactly 9,600 have already visited this blog site’s pages.)

I realized this later when one vital donor of foodstuff emailed me, saying that he read on that we had many supporters and that we were doing alright now, could he stop his regular foodstuff donation?

I explained to him the situation to convince him that it would put our daily feeding program in disarray if he quit his monthly assistance.

I should disabuse the minds of people who read our little success story: While it was true that we received such help, it was not sustainable.

Meaning, our operation was similar to what we call “hand-to-mouth existence”. I have to look for potential donors everyday to sustain the daily operations of our day care and orphanage facility.

Except for a handful of generous parties who continuously sent out assistance, the rest that we got were just one-off. But it doesn’t mean that we don’t appreciate the help. The fact is we are very grateful because it enables us to serve our beneficiary children effectively.

One reason I have to continuously seek out help from everybody, from every business houses that I came to think of and from friends whom I felt would find helping the Tembari children a rare opportunity.

Believing that it was important to be transparent with everybody who read my accounts of the Tembari children’s activities, I made it a point to specify individually on this blogsite the entities and persons who came to help us.

To the readers, the listing of our donors was impressive, as it included the biggest business houses in PNG.

But this proved to be costly on Tembari children’s part.

One basic reason was that, those who were planning to help the children would otherwise drop the idea, thinking that they were doing well, what with the long list of their benefactors.

One long-time Filipino expat in Port Moresby has suggested that I should shut my mouth regarding the amount of help that the Tembari children are getting. I am inclined to believe the suggestion, knowing that this person runs one of the biggest charity foundations in Papua New Guinea.

Just keep everybody guessing on the status of our operations. Remember, our children are supposed to be struggling and in dire poverty -- a situation that would make them more attractive to help.

As they say in warfare, let the enemy guess as to your logistics and the number of your troops. This way, they would find it hard to figure out how to defeat you.

The same is true with assistance. When donors know you are hard up, they will come. Once they learned that you are now doing well, they would disappear.

So what to do?

We wanted to be honest with our supporters and benefactors and the general public by being open with them.

But when the welfare of our children is being jeopardized by transparency, the best practice is to keep our donors guessing. This way help would keep on coming.

Is this acceptable?

I honestly feel that Tembari has succeeded in making positive impact on the lives of its beneficiary children, thanks to the continuous help that The Center is receiving from various parties.

It is one happy development that deserves to be sustained and supported by the general public, and specifically by our existing donors, and hopefully by potential supporters.

As they say, good performance must always be rewarded.

I believed the Tembari Children’s Care performed 2010 well that its feeding and educational program for some 110 unfortunate children won success.

Honestly, we worked hard to achieve this.

This happy occasion should continue. This is the only way to change the lives of these unfortunate children for the better and make them useful citizens in the future.

Cutting assistance while good things are just starting to show on the horizon is like nipping a potentially beautiful flower in its bud.

But whatever things I say in this piece, all would simply boil down to one thing: The future of the Tembari children will always remain in the hands of our benefactors, supporters and donors.

If they disappear, the future of these kids would simply fall apart as it disappears into nothingness.

Could we allow this to happen?

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