Sunday, August 28, 2011

Water, water and water at Tembari center

A new platform for a water tank facility (pictured) has just been completed, which will be the base of a fourth water tank (5,000-liters) to be installed at Tembari premises. The supplier will deliver the new tank as soon as new stocks arrived. Shown in the background are the RH Foundation-donated water tank and the two units from Boroko Rotary Club.

The hot-cold water dispenser (left) and purified water in several 19-liter containers donated by Pure Water Co. The two new 9,000-liter water tanks donated awaiting installation. Both have been donated by the Boroko Rotary Club with funding assistance from the Rotary Club of Kewana Watters in District 9600, Australia. The donation has been facilitated by Boroko Rotary member David Conn, who is the president of POM Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PoMCCI).

The bulk water contractor pumps water into Tembari’s 5,000-liter water tank donated last year by RH Foundation.
Tembari volunteers fetching water from the 5,000-liter water tank facility.


A Friend of Tembari Children

THERE WAS a time when the Tembari Children’s Care (TCC) compound was a dry, dry place.

I am talking about the absence of potable water at the center during those days last year.

It was a time when two of our volunteer mothers would stay late in the night waiting for Eda Ranu, the water agency, to pump enough water to the settlement – the ATS Oro settlement at 7 Mile outside of Port Moresby.

And when not enough water came to the two public taps during the night, another volunteer would post herself at the nearby public water tap to wait for water to come, along with several from the settlement.

The water agency got pissed off when the settlement association failed to pay the monthly bills generated by water users from the area, who have been paying for their water consumption at the rate of one kina (K1) a day.

To the chagrin of the water users, they discovered that the association has accumulated over the years close to K200,000 (US$84,000) in unpaid water bills

There are more than 500 family-water users at the settlement, each one paying for what they collect from the settlement’s public water tap.

Then one day, the water agency decided to limit the volume of water pumped into the settlement – to cut losses – maintaining only a certain pressure enough to keep the precious liquid flowing from the taps, too weak that it took more than three minutes to fill up a one-liter Coke bottle!

Those who queued for water had brought containers, buckets and more and bigger containers. You can imagine the frustrations among them.

It was a big problem for me especially on Saturdays when I did my cooking for the Tembari children.

Cooking something like 10k of rice, 25 liters of soup and another dish to go with rice was hell as there was not much water to use.

The 12kg of meat – beef or chicken – 10kg of potatoes and carrots needed much water to process, something which could not be done at the center. I did it in my flat instead on Friday night and brought them to the center on Saturday morning – all ready to cook.

My own frustration over water had brought me to two water purifying companies in Port Moresby – The Water Company and Aqua 5. I sought their assistance in meeting the drinking water needs of our children, who, during those days, numbered more than 100 already.

They never drank water after every meal. The only liquid that they were able to have was the cordial drink – that sugary water drink which they washed down the food with. That’s all. And health-wise, this was really bad.

Aqua 5 and The Water Company supported me with five containers each (19 liters) every week and this went to the drinking needs of our children. Every Friday, I would drop by their water filling plant for the 10 containers. The next day, Saturday, I would haul them off to the center along with the ready-to-cook meat and veggies.

I remember the first day that we served the children purified drinking water.

Would you believe that the first container was emptied in just 10 minutes! That’s just how thirsty our children had been! Well, I had encouraged them to drink at least three glasses of it every time after their meal as there would be enough to go around.

What about the other water needs at the center?

I did not want to think about it, but our volunteer moms assigned to cook meals everyday had pestered me with their complaints. Not enough water with which to wash cooking utensils and plates and to cook food with.

The RH Foundation came to our rescue, the charity arm of RH (PNG) Group of Companies.

Learning about our water crisis, it immediately committed to provide us with a 5,000-liter plastic-like water tank along with the necessary accessories.

With help from other donors, we were able to build the concrete foundation on top of which sat the water tank.

Now, there’s another problem. The settlement water supply could barely climb to the tap and gush out. Most of the time, it only dripped like that of an IV’s if not flowing as thin as pencil.

How much more coming to our slightly elevated water tank and fill its 5,000-liter cavern?

I approached a regular donor – the High Energy Co, a fishing outfit which exports frozen fish. Hearing our water concern, Thomas Kuo, the GM, did not think twice in committing his company into shouldering the cost of the bulk water needed to fill up the tank every five weeks.

And of course, at times, High Energy would deliver to the center cartons of frozen fish.

Now, the bulk water contractor has charged us 260 kina (K260), equivalent to US$109, for a 5,000 liter delivery.

Since then, we have enjoyed more than enough potable water amid dryness punishing settlement residents.

The good news above all this is that the Boroko Rotary, through one of its expatriate members David Conn who happened to visit our facility, donated two 9,000-liter water tanks, along with the necessary accessories.

The money used to buy these two tanks came from the Rotary Club of Kewana Watters in District 9600, Australia

This time, instead of bulk water to fill up the two new tanks, we are thinking of accessing ground water which might be sleeping right under the property on which the Tembari center sits.

An active supporter of Tembai – a British expatriate and an executive of an IT company in Port Moresby – has already arranged with a ground water expert to find out if there’s water in our area.

If the hydrologist’s search turns positive, we will drill a deep well that will then provide the water. If not, there would always be donors to shoulder our monthly water bills for these two new tanks.

And hey! There’s another big water news: The manager of a bottled water company – Pure Water – heard about Tembari children and was inspired to look into our needs and found out that our kids are drinking water from the tank.

Ms Helen MacIndoe doubted the safety of such water – health-wise.

You know what she did? She committed to deliver to the center 20 containers (19 liters) every week!

And not only that …so the kids would enjoy drinking her company’s water, she also delivered one electric-run water dispenser with hot and cold taps, and this gadget is now gushing cool water for as long as the kids would like to drink.

And hot water for their afternoon tea! (We need a constant supply of tea bags… any taker?)

Still not satisfied with what she came up with, Helen offered the fourth water tank – of 5,000-liter capacity – which she promised to deliver as soon as the stock is available.

Meanwhile, she instructed us to prepare the concrete foundation for this tank, which we had done already, and that she would also supply the bulk water to fill it up.

Well, don’t be surprise, my friend.

Her company Pure Water also does business delivering bulk water for industrial use.

The story is that Pure Water has snatched a rich contract with the billion-dollar LNG project to supply its drinking water needs.

As they have said, when it rains, it pours hard.

And all this would soon make Tembari center the wettest place at the desert-dry settlement.

Let’s drink to that!

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