Sunday, February 13, 2011

‘Population explosion’ at Tembari Center

A baby boy sleeps soundly in his bilum that is hanging from a branch of a mango tree, while his mom helps out in preparing last Saturday’s special lunch for Tembari children. The bilum is a native carry-on bag woven from colorful threads. In the village, bilum weavers normally use fibers from a certain bark of a tree.

Macaroni -- the special lunch served to Tembari children on Saturday. (More pictures after story.)

A Friend of Tembari Children

WE HAD the biggest attendance during our special lunch on Saturday – 138 children.

The truth is that I was dismayed to discover this number in the midst of our feeding session.

The food budget for this weekly special lunch is for only 110, and I expected that this number won’t be hit based on our daily feeding program head count of beneficiaries who come for food every day.

I was told that the excess diners were actually new kids from the block who were still in the process of being profiled and therefore were not yet official members of our roster.

(I have been informed today, Tuesday, February 15) that after profiling the newcomers, the Tembari kids now number 162 -- 62 in elementary and primary schools, about 90 in preschools while the rest are non-school age yet.)

I monitored how the dish of macaroni was being served to see to it that it could go around easily. In fact, I cooked about 30 liters of heavy macaroni with lots of chicken meat, cabbage and carrots to make the dish a bit healthier for the kids.

When food dwindled to half of the 30-liter pot, I began to worry because I still could see lots of kids at the dining tables without food bowls in front of them.
I asked for a head count and the figure of 138 came up.

Since I am limited only to a budget of K400 for my special Saturday feeding – an amount donated by two sponsors chipping in K200 each every Saturday – I would have to reduce the amount of food served so it could go around to all our kid diners.

I asked Penny Sage-embo, Co-Founder and Co-President ; and Hayward Sagembi, Co-Founder and Director; of Tembari Children’s Care (TCC) that we should keep the number of our children to 100 only, due to our limited resources. But this is impossible to keep, as more and more unfortunate children from ATS Oro Settlement at 7 Mile are coming for food and preschool education.

Their growing number has begun to upset our resources – food and space.

Until last year, we were cooking rice at the rate of one bag (10kg) a day – from Monday to Saturday – for a total of 6 bags a week, or 24 bags a month. Our kids until the end of 2010 numbered only 114 – the official figure.

These days, we are forced to cook up to 15kg a day to cover all, and that means we are consuming 9 bags (90kg) of rice a week, for a total of 36 bags in 24 days.

This is apart from the snacks of biscuits or bread we serve to our preschoolers at noon after their morning classes.

We only get regular rice donation of 16 bags a month (good for 16 days) from a generous Malaysian executive and the rest comes from individuals who sent in a bag or two during the month. That’s why we are able to accumulate a bit of enough rice for the entire month.

Without the individual rice donors, we would not be able to afford to feed our children everyday – from Monday to Friday.

In short, we would need at least 36 bags of rice (10kg) a month. But since we are getting a regular supply of 16 bags a month, we would have to look for donors who are willing to fill up the gap of 20 bags.

Maybe, an individual donor could contribute a bag every month.This way, your rice donations would become sustainable as they would come on a regular basis.

This won't cost much. A bag of Roots Rice (10kg)is about K40 - the cost of two lunch meals at Grand Palace.

If you think you could answer this appeal, please let me know as soon as possible. I would be very glad to pick up your donation – rice or flour, or whatever foodstuff that you could share with the Tembari children.

The Tembari children while away their time chatting to one another as they await lunch on Saturday. The Center, a day care and orphanage facility, looks after 120 orphans, abandoned and unfortunate kids by providing them preschool education and daily meals.

Volunteer mothers cooking a special lunch for the children on Saturday.

Ingredients being added to the cooking dish.

And another ingredient to make the dish more yummy....

Macaroni dish is done, and is ready to be served.

Just before having lunch, the children wash hands, assisted by volunteer mothers.

A toddler gets a helping hand from a volunteer mom in washing his hands.

A volunteer mother scoops the dish into a bowl.

Food ready to go.

A volunteer mother carries a tray of food bowls.

A Tembari kid helps out in distributing food bowls to young diners.

Children having lunch.

Janet, administrator of The Center, interviews children to get their profile. They are joining the Tembari Children’s Center for the first time as beneficiaries.

14) Janet still at work while her baby enjoys his meal.

Melanie, 10, one of the beneficiary kids who is now in Grade 3.

Foster mothers with their young children.

Penny Sagembo (in center), Co-Founder and Co-President of Tembari Children’s Care, talks to the children, encouraging them to come to The Center everyday for food and preschool classes.

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