Sunday, February 27, 2011

Electricity inching towards Tembari Center

The Tembari Children Care center at ATS Oro Settlement, outside of Port Moresby and the third steel power post that will bring electricity to the facility’s premises. The power facility is now being installed by PNG Power Ltd for the benefit of the Tembari Children.

The power post awaiting to be finally installed with power cable lines.


A Friend of Tembari Children

VERY soon, the Tembari center will enjoy the benefits of electricity.

It is first time that The Center will get power service since being established in 2003 by founders Rishabh Bhandari, Penny Sagembo, and Hayward Sagembo.

Power firm PNG Power Ltd erected last week three steel power posts and laid the needed cable lines that would bring electricity to The Center, which happens to be about 300 meters from the village’s power grid.

In short, PNG Power is nearing the fulfillment of its commitment to provide us electricity at The Center so we could do more towards serving our beneficiary children now numbering a total of 175.

Knowing what electricity could do to improve our efficiency in serving the Tembari children and in enhancing their lives, Rishabh and myself approached PNG Power last September on the possibility of connecting us to the village’s power grid -- at the company’s cost.

CEO Tony Koiri did not waste time to give a green light to our request.

Immediately, he issued out instructions to concerned technical people, including the GM for operations, John Tangit, to keep the ball rolling, so to speak, “in the name of service to the community”.

But of course our request came at a time when PNG Power was also saddled with various logistical/financial issues that it took six months to realize the project.

But the assurance was already there and that engineers concerned had updated us on the status of our power project from time to time.

Last week, Rishabh got
an email from one key person at the company to inform that his boys will be at our area to erect the needed power posts and that immediately power cable lines would be laid, and thus connect The Center to the power grid.

This week, we expect to have everything installed, including the required EsiPay meter, a gadget that measures the amount of power consumed and shows how long would the loaded electricity would last until another top up is required.

To PNG Power, thanks a lot and More Power to you!

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Scenes from Tembari’s Saturday feeding

A bilum heavy with a baby (far left) and three empty hammocks whose occupants are somewhere playing.

This bilum has been hanging for quite sometime, giving the mother of the sleeping baby a chance to help volunteer mothers prepare the day’s lunch of beef stew and special soup “lomi”, a favorite Filipino dish. (More pictures after story)


A Friend of Tembari Children

FOR MORE than a year now, I have enjoyed taking pictures during my special Saturday feeding program.

It’s only during this event that unique scenes would pop for my camera to snap.

My latest fascination right now are those bilums and cloth hammocks dangling from branches of a mango tree, which could be loaded with the warm bodies of sleeping babies, or just simply hanging empty as they swayed to the passing breeze.

I would admit that the pictures that I produced were not really outstanding, to say the least – but passable, I could say, for uploading on the Internet.

But the point of the whole exercise is that my camera was documenting unique scenes that only a Tembari event could elicit.

I am sharing some of such pictures here, for the readers of this Blog to see and enjoy.

On Saturday, we had more than 90 young diners -- out of the 175 expected to come but did not for one reason or another -- who savored a painstakingly prepared beef stew dish and “lomi”, a favorite Filipino noodle soup, something the children have usually looked forward to, having been tired of eating rice and tinned fish five days a week.

The Saturday special feeding is some sort of a break from the daily routine of tinned fish and rice, rice and tinned fish.

I can afford to prepare something special as this particular dish is usually sponsored by two friends who chip in K200 (US$70) each to cover the cost of materials that go into the dish.

On another note, TCC’s Founder and Co-President, Rishabh Bhandari, who is studying in USA and spends all his vacations in PNG to work at TCC, has been working to raise moey for school fees while he is in the USA. His dream is to ensure all the TCC children has access to education to the extent their potential allows and they do not get hurdled by financial reasons. He once told me that he would love to see some TCC child one day going to the same US school he went.

Rishabh has raised enough money in the last few weeks to pay for the school fees for 21 TCC primary school children for this year.

Well, last Saturday was another of those Saturdays that turned out great for everybody – from volunteer mothers and beneficiary children alike.

Personally, it was another gratifying day for me after long hours of gathering and preparing the foodstuff prior to cooking, having been able to prepare a decent meal for the Tembari children,courtesy of our generous supporters.

Enjoy the pictures!

Volunteer moms cooking the day’s lunch.

Close of a pot boiling with “lomi”, a Filipino dish.

A volunteer and kids collecting donated foodstuff from the car of blogger APH.

Tembari bulletin board showing lists of schoolchildren who have been enrolled this year.

Tembari children killing time inside their classroom.

Children sitting on the mat and enjoying themselves while waiting for lunch.

Some play with some parlor games to the delight of those who watch them.

Penny, the Tembari Children Center's Co-Founder and Co-President, and three volunteer teachers preparing the school records of Tembari children.

A volunteer mom fetching water from the water tank to be used in cooking and washing used utensils and pots.

A volunteer mom scooping steamed rice in preparation for distributing lunch to the children.

Food bowls to go…

Children gulping their soup.

One kid simply sips it as it is still hot.

Raphael, a beneficiary child with deformed feet, enjoys his soup.

kids waiting for lunch.

A young boy enjoys his lunch.

Others are having theirs while sitting on the blue mat.

This kid pauses for a picture before finishing his lunch.

This kid is caught while drinking his cordial, a sweetened water concoction that usually follows after lunch.

Volunteers cleaning used plates, cups, spoons, bowls and pots.

.– All pictures by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tembari kids’ number explodes

Penny Sage-embo, Co-Founder and Co-President of Tembari Children Care, with two volunteer mothers working on the children’s records.

Tembari children line up to wash hands before having lunch on Saturday. (More pictures after story)

A Friend of Tembari Children

THE official figure is out:

The Tembari Children Care (TCC), a day care facility outside of Port Moresby, has a total of 175 beneficiary children.

Of this number, 69 are attending elementary and primary schools some of whose school fees this year have been sponsored by the PNG Children’s Foundation (PNGCF) and the remaining school fees have been paid by the funds raised by Rishabh Bhandari, Founder and Co-President, in the USA.


The rest numbering 106 are preschoolers and non-school age children.

But the actual number of our preschoolers is 135, if we are to include 29 other children from families with complete set of parents – meaning they have a father and a mother.

These 29 kids have joined our preschool program because Tembari is the only facility for this at ATS Oro Settlement. Providing preschool education to every kid in the community is one of Tembari’s mandates, being a community-based organization (CBO).

The current number of beneficiary children is a far cry from the 78 in December 2009, a little more than a year ago from now.

Last year, it jumped to as many as 110.

And now we got 175 to look after – to feed, to educate and to provide them with an atmosphere of being in one big family, something most of them don’t have in their own homes.

Our first biggest worry is food and how to sustain the present supply we get from our donors against the growing number of mouths to feed.

While Tembari is getting a regular supply of 16 bags (10kg) of rice every month from a top executive, along with seven cartons of fresh milk or 85 packs (1 litre), the quantity, matched against our present number, has become worrisome.

It’s good that on occasion, we get rice donations from friends who would send one or two bags, thus enabling us to cover the 24 feeding days in a month.

And until last December, we were consuming 1 bag (10kg) of rice a day, from Monday to Saturday, for a total of 6 bags. During the 24-day feeding program, we usually consumed 24 bags.

In short, the 16 bags we get from a regular donor have to be augmented with at least 8 more bags we hope to receive from donations.

But, this was the rate of our rice consumption until last December 2010 when our kids were just 110.

Now we have 175 mouths to feed everyday and until last Saturday when I did my special lunch cooking, we had consumed 12kg to feed 110 kids who actually came for lunch out of the 175 that we expected that day.

I thought that it was good -- not all of them couldn’t come for lunch. Otherwise our food budget for the day would be shot. But this thinking is way off, to tell you the truth.

I find the figure mind-blowing.

My housemate Nara, who is a regular donor to my Saturday feeding program, expressed shock.

He asked: How are you going to feed them all?

Definitely, we can’t, that’s why I am out again looking for more food donors.

On Saturday, I told our volunteer mothers preparing daily meals for the kids to keep the quantity or rice at 12kg a day and to cook only only 5kg of tinned fish to go as side dish.

The Center is feeding the children twice a day. At noon, we serve our preschoolers biscuits and cordial drink as snack after their morning class.

Then, in the afternoon, we serve all of our kids early dinner of rice and tinned fish, veggies and cordial drink.

Here, all the Tembari children come together for one big dinner – non-school-age children, preschoolers and children in elementary and primary schools who come to The Center after the day’s classes -- for food.

Our second biggest concern is space for our beneficiary preschoolers now numbering 106 plus the 29 kids who come from families with fathers and mothers.

The 135 learners would have to be divided into three groups, for an average of 45 kids per class. Anyway, a class may have more than 45 while the two other classes would get less – still a number not ideal for a class, if the learners are to get effective teaching.

A preschool expert told me recently that the ideal size of a preschool class is 35, not 40 or more. At Tembari, we have make do with the maximum if only to accommodate everybody.

Now, only two classes could be accommodated in two separate classrooms. We have only two classrooms in the form of old container vans.

The third classroom is in the form of a space under the mango tree. Here, a large canvass sheet is spread out under the tree where the kids sit during classes.

When rain begins to threaten, this batch is sent home before they could get soaked in the rain.

why we are raising funds to build a classroom for them, which could cost at least K50,000. Measuring 15 meters x 4 meters, the structure will house a classroom (9m x 4m), an office space (3m x 4m) and a kitchen of the same size.

We feel the urgency of building this multi-purpose structure because there’s no way we could provide a batch of 40 plus preschoolers with a proper learning facility other than having this structure constructed. And soon.

So ffar, we have already raised K7,000 for this project. Still a long way to go.

On our own, we won’t be able to provide the classroom much-needed by our young learners.

But with your help, we can make this happen.

We have realized that Tembari is a fast-growing family.

It only indicates that the number of less-fortunate kids from the community – abandoned, orphans and neglected -- is growing by the day and their only way out of their misfortunes is through The Center.

The Center, with your help, is their gateway to a potential bright future.

But The Center, on its own, is helpless.

But it is there to serve as a receptacle of your assistance that you wish to give to these unfortunates.

It is there to make your wish of helping come true. We can’t do any less.

If you are able to assist – whether in the form of foodstuff or funds for our classroom project -- please don’t hesitate to let us know.

Thanks a lot.

A toddler gets a helping hand.

Two kids reading inside the classroom.

Moms cooking “arroz caldo”, a favorite Filipino dish, on Saturday.

Moms helping out each other doing the Filipino dish “arroz caldo”.

Two pots boiling at the same time.

Close up of two pots boiling with “arroz caldo”.

A kid plays next to the fire.

A bulletin board with some pictures showing past activities.

Foster moms with their kids while waiting for lunch to cook.

A volunteer mom scooping “arroz caldo”.

Food ready to go ... "Arroz caldo" with whole egg, chicken breast cubes, cube carrots, green peas and thin strips of cabbage ... yummy!!!

Kids read their picture books while waiting for lunch …

Kids eat their lunch.

Kids enjoy their lunch of “arroz caldo”, a favorite Filipino dish.

Preschool kids eat their “arroz caldo” inside their classroom.

Three little girl pose for a picture. (All pictures by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ, Port Moresby, PNG)

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PNG Children’s Foundation rescues Tembari kids’ schoolchildren

Wardstrip Demonstration headmistress Mrs Lynette Turia (left) receives a cheque for K4,400.00 from Mea Lou, vice-president of the PNG Children’s Foundation, at a school fee turn-over ceremony at Lamana Hotel last Friday. The cheque covered the school fees of 44 children from Tembari Children’s Care (TCC), the second biggest batch sponsored by the foundation, which spent K35,628 this year for school fees. (More pictures after story)

A Friend of Tembari Children

THE PNG Children’s Foundation has rescued 48 Tembari children from going back to the street by paying for their school fees this year.

Another 21 Tembari kids whose ages ranged from 13 and above, have also been rescued. Their school fees have been paid for by the funds raised by Rishabh Bhandari, Founder and Co-President of TCC, while he is in the USA.

Meanwhile, the school fees of another five kids who have been considered too old for preschool –they aged 13 and above and therefore have to be bumped off to join the primary school level – have been paid for by The Center, using some funds received last year from donors.

This year, the cost of educating 74 children from Tembari Children Care (TCC) amounted to a total of K11,300.

These are the children who have been discarded from the school fee program of WeCare!, a foundation operated by retired priest John Glynn, who felt they did not deserve his continued support. Anyway, last school year, his foundation paid the school fees of some 40 Tembari children.

During a simple ceremony at the Lamana Hotel last Friday, the Children’s Foundation’s vice-president Mea Lou turned over a cheque for K4,400 to Mrs Lynette Turia, headmistress of Wardship Demostration Elementary School at Gordons.

The payment covered 44 Tembari children in the elementary level.

Another cheque for K920 covering four kids was also turned over to the headmaster of the New Erima Primary School.

Tembari’s 69 elementary and primary school children are part of the 233 that the Children’s Foundation has sponsored year, spread out to 30 elementary and primary schools around Port Moresby.

In all, this year’s sponsored school fees cost the Children Foundation K35,628, and the covering cheques were distributed last Friday to respective headmasters of 30 schools where the children have been enrolled.

“PNG children,” says Yiannis Nicolaou, president of Children’s Foundation, “have better opportunities to be educated through educational sponsorships.”

In a statement, Yiannis said school children from low-income families and those who are orphaned and abandoned are the main beneficiaries of the foundation.

Mrs Nene Sta Cruz, adviser to the foundation, said this year’s sponsorships have covered 233 students compared to last year’s only 200.

She explained that the foundation’s mandated beneficiaries are school children with ages up to 12 years old.

“Children with ages above 12 are no longer children … they have become teen-agers …” Mrs Sta Cruz said in jest, as she explained to school headmasters and head mistresses the foundation’s target clients.

Incidentally, Nene is the project manager of Kids’ Haven, a shelter for abandoned and abused children based in Port Moresby, which is a beneficiary of the PNG Children’s Foundation.

When we first approached Nene Sta Cruz about our kids school fee problem after they were dropped from the school fee program of WeCare! whose big boss, retired priest John Glynn, has had this mistaken notion that Tembari is getting a lot of funding -- his main reason why he stopped the payment for their school fees this year – she told us: “Don’t worry … we’ll take care of your children …”

And during a PNG Children’s Foundation function last Christmas, I happened to meet Yiannis Nicolaou and discussed with him our activities at Tembari Center.

Yiannis, the Big Boss at Lamana Hotel – a tourism-oriented concern which has seen progress by leaps and bounds over the years, which is right now trying its best to cope with its growing corporate and tourism clientele -- assured me of his support in providing education to Tembari children.

Cheers to that!

Tembari kids rejoice after it was announced that their school fees have been arranged with their school.

Nene Sta Cruz, adviser to the PNG Children’s Foundation, signs a document covering a cheque donation for school fees. (All pictures by ALFREEDO P HERNANDEZ)

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Penny Sagembo, praises and warns Tembari’s schoolchildren

Penny Sagembo, Co-Founder and Co-President of Tembari Center (right standing), gives a pep talk to the children on Saturday.

A Friend of Tembari Children

ON SATURDAY, Penny Sagembo, Co-Founder and Co-President of Tembari Children Care (TCC), had a heart-to-heart talk with the beneficiary children.

She had encouraged them on their quest for learning but at the same time reminded them of their responsibilities as beneficiaries.

While Tembari is doing all it can to make their lives a little better, she warned them that they would be sacked if they failed to do their part.

While some 109 schoolchildren paid their attention to the grand matriarch of The Center, Penny told them: I am happy to announce that your school fees have been paid … which means all of you are going to school this year …”

“On your behalf, I would like to thank the PNG Children’s Foundation for being generous to us by paying for your school fees … I also would like to thank Rishabh Bhandari, TCC’s Founder who has raised funds in the USA for school fees for the remaining children. Whie Rishabh himself has been studying, his heart is always feeling for you and he is always thinking something or the other to make your lives better..…”

The Children’s Foundation, headed by Yiannis Nicolaou, supports less-privileged children by helping them get an education and at the same time helping charity institutions like the “Kids Haven”, a shelter for unfortunate mothers and children.

Penny told the Tembari children the results of their education last year had all been satisfactory – everybody made good grades. She encouraged them to keep it up.

But then she told them: I want you to come to Tembari everyday for feeding … I want you to be present every time we serve you meal… not just on Monday, or on Tuesday … but every day.

“If you failed to come here every day, from Monday to Saturday for feeding during the first three months, starting next month (March), we would be forced to drop you from our roster…

Meaning, they could no longer receive the services that The Center is providing to the children right now like education and more.

“You see, there are lots of children who would like to join Tembari, but because of your number at present (175) we won’t be able to accommodate them anymore.

“So, if you cannot keep your attendance for our feeding program, we will drop you to give way to other children from the village who badly need food and education …”

“You have to do your part,” she said.

Penny has urged the children to relay her message to their guardians or foster parents, who, she said, have been remiss in their duties to see to it that their children come to The Center regularly for feeding.

She told me that many parents just don’t bother much, since they knew their foster children are receiving The Center’s services without fail.

“But we can’t tolerate that anymore due to our constraints with food supplies and facilities that should be enjoyed at the most by deserving children,” she said.

We hope that the message Penny imparted, sink into the children’s consciousness.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Filipino entertainers perform for Tembari children’s benefit

The Valentine-red stage where the concert dubbed Valentine’s With Idols was held on Saturday night at Grand Palace Restaurant to raise funds for the Tembari Children Care (TCC), a day care and orphanage center. Featuring Filipino top entertainers Gretchen Espina and Lance Raymundo, the fundraiser was staged by the Filipino Association of PNG led by newly-elected president Tony Valdez.

Top Manila entertainers Gretchen Espina and Lance Raymundo belt it out to the delight of the Pinoy audience during their dinner-concert on Saturday night. (More pictures after story.)


A Friend of Tembari Children

POPULAR Filipino entertainers Gretchen Espina and Lance Raymundo wowed the expatriate Filipino audience in Port Moresby on Saturday night, one of those rare entertainment spectacles from Manila seen in the city every year.

The yearly Valentine’s concert, this time dubbed Valentine’s With Idols (A Dinner Valentine Show), had been long anticipated by Port Moresby Pinoys and the only group here that could pull this off was the Filipino Association of PNG (FAPNG).

In fact, FAPNG has been known, among other feats, for importing Filipino artists to cheer up the Filipino community once or twice a year, alongside raising funds for worthy causes such as supporting the Port Moresby General Hospital Children’s Ward and the police force in the National Capital District

But such yearly live concert had also entertained other expatriates in the city, particularly those who are married to Filipinos. And on Saturday night, there were lots of them seen with their Filipino spouses and partners.

As far as I am concerned, the bigger news here is that the proceeds from this two-day fundraising concert will benefit our day care and orphanage center, the Tembari Children’s Center (TCC).

The Tembari children, who now number 162, are a lucky lot, because it is the entire Filipino community in Port Moresby that is supporting the upbringing of the Tembari children to make them good citizens of Papua New Guinea in the future.

Of course, the support they are giving by coming to the show is coursed through FAPNG now headed by my good friend Tony Valdez, who recently took over the presidency from another good friend of mine, businessman Joey Sena.

Both gentlemen have inspired FAPNG members into helping the Tembari children through fundraising drives carried out through live concerts played by noted Filipino performers from the Philippines.

In his last official act as president of FAPNG, Joey offered to donate a portion of the proceeds from the 2010 Hatid-Saya concert (Courier of Joy) held last September to Tembari children, a gesture which was wholeheartedly supported by the members.

And I was just too glad to accept it on behalf of the children, because it would help a lot in furthering their cause.

A cheque for K5,000.00 was donated to Tembari children, an amount which is now supporting the daily operations of The Center that include daily feeding and administrative activities.

On Saturday night just before the concert began, Joey was delighted when I told him that a portion of the fund had paid for the bulk water (5,000 liters) that filled up the water tank of Tembari Center a week ago, thus ending the long water crisis at The Center and began making the lives of our kids a little better.

This much water is expected to last for about a month.

It is now being used daily by our volunteer mothers in cooking meals and cleaning the utensils, among other things. More importantly, it also provided clean drinking water for our 120 beneficiary children.

Of course, a portion of last year’s FAPNG donation has been set aside for our preschool classroom project for our 40 kids who have been holding their class under the mango tree since school began last week.

The cost of the building with an area of 15 meters x 4 meters is estimated at K50,000, and will accommodate a small classroom (9m x 4m), a small office (3m x 4m) and a dirty kitchen of the same size.

For his part, Tony’s first act as FAPNG president, as far as I know of, is to hold this Valentine concert for the benefit of the Tembari children.

Tony, along his Filipino colleagues at Hitron, namely Jocelyn and Dhes, has known about the Tembari children for quite a long time now, particularly their need for sustainable food and education.

For several times last year, the troika at Hitron had sent their assistance even without my asking for such, and for this I thank them with all my heart.

So, Tony’s decision to involve the FAPNG to help our children by holding the Valentine concert on Saturday night, and this afternoon as matinee show, just came out naturally.

I know very well that our partnership with FAPNG will last because its members have a soft heart for less-privileged Papua New Guinean children, in particular the orphans, abandoned and unfortunate children at ATS Oro Settlement now under the care of the Tembari Children Care (TCC).

In this country, the Pinoys have been known for this unique, proud trait.

To Pareng Tony Valdez and Joey Sena and the entire FAPNG organization, more power to you!

A Filipino expat having fun of his life on stage with sexy songstress and ‘Pinoy Idol” winner Gretchen Espina.

Part of the big Filipino crowd who came to watch the Valentine’s With Idols concert on Saturday night.

Gretchen calls a Pinoy to stage expat as part of her repertoire on Saturday night’s concert.

Gretchen and Lance in one of their numbers.

Gretchen glowing in her sexiness as she sings a love song.

Lance comes down from the stage to be with the audience. – All pictures by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

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