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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