Monday, September 26, 2011

Songs from The Soul Siren, Nina

The Soul Siren, Nina dishing out one of her many soulful songs during a concert in Port Moresby on Saturday, September 23, 2011 for the benefit of the Tembari Children and Friends Foundation.

Nina ... haunting

Nina was a sight to behold!!!


FOR trying-hard fotogs like me, The Soul Siren, Nina was extremely a refreshing sight to snap on.

And I didn’t even know any of her songs, a natural disaster that normally descends on people who were reared like a pampered tot on songs of the 60s, 70s and 80s.

What I remember was that I could hear a voice oozing fluidly from the soul of a splendid lady, who was now levitating in the soothing strain of notes just two arms-stretch away from me.

Truly, her music was a healing balm to my strained heart.

Back home in the Philippines, it was said that such a voice could only come from a siren, not the one which Filipino legend had said came from beneath the sea, but from someone only the likes of Nina could own.

So on Friday night, 23rd of September, Nina was up there on the makeshift stage of Dynasty Restaurant singing out her soul and giving us – the audience – the goose bumps.

This angel, who has continuously dominated the metropolis’ weekend concert circuits, was in Port Moresby along with two of her equally able singing-and-dancing-joking colleagues – Rowell Quizon and Chubbylita – for a two-night fundraising concert for the unfortunate children of Tembari Children’s Care (TCC) day care facility and for Friend’s Foundation.

They were imported by the Filipino Association of PNG (FAPNG) under its president Tony Valdez, and their coming, as usual, had been considered a big musical treat for the Filipino community in the capital city.

As in the previous Hatid Saya concerts, the venue was jammed, as usual, with more than 300 Pinoys and expatriates whose tables – most of them – were paid for by corporate sponsors at K3,000 a pop.

Those who came on their own burned a hole in their pockets with a cool but nasty K300 – not for the so-so five-course dinner and a bottle of wine – but for the pleasure of being with this lady, if only for the night.

Very rare had Port Moresby Pinoys been able to witness one live performer as enchanting and sensuous as Nina – a miracle seldom seen on Philippine TV.

That’s why that night, the community of music lovers came in full force, knowing that it would be in these hours when their thirst for Filipino love songs would at last find a quencher in her.

Truly, on Friday night, sultry Nina made love with her songs, and the audience – mesmerized as they were - didn’t mind: they were thrilled; some even wished for her to come again – next year maybe.

And as for me, not knowing a tune from her repertoire, I just clicked on and on and on … and on.

With her, I knew my evening was made.

Please come again, Nina!

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tembari’s volleyball games: They came, they watched and did not create trouble

The National color of PNG (upper right) flutters in the wind while two games – played by men and women’s teams – are in progress on Saturday, the second day of Tembari’s 36th Independence Anniversary Volleyball Tournament at Tembari’s compound at ATS Oro settlement at 7 Mile outside of Port Moresby.

Rex Nichoi, chairman of ATS Oro Community, gestures as he praised his people for displaying exemplary discipline and cooperation during the two day volleyball tournament. (More Pictures after story.)

A Friend of Tembari Children

A FIRST in the village, Tembari’s hit volleyball tournament will now become a yearly Independence Week event.

The competition drew 18 men and women’s teams from across the community to vie for the much-coveted Tembari trophies, whose games were watched by hundreds of fans rooting for their respective teams.

There had never been a community-wide sports competition like this at ATS Oro community, a settlement occupied by settlers from Oro and Central provinces at 7 Mile outside of Port Moresby.
And so, when Penny Sagembo, Tembari’s Co-Founder and Co-President, came up with the idea of initiating the games, there was excitement from all quarters of the community of 6,000 people.

Being a CBO (community-based organization duly registered with Investment Promotion Authority), one of Tembari’s community-oriented aspirations is to draw people’s participation.

“Our people are sports-minded, so I have assumed that they will support this first-time ever volleyball event by joining in the competition to celebrate our 36th Independence anniversary,” Penny said, referring to PNG’s Independence Day on Friday, September 16.

“And the highest goal of this event is to instill discipline among the people, by seeing to it that the games are held without untoward incident like fighting and drunkenness,” she continued.

In the past, trouble would surely break out in the middle of a big gathering at the village, Penny noted.

True enough, the eight districts covered by the ATS Oro Community Association fielded 18 teams -- 10 for men and eight for women -- a clear sign that this initiative had gained support from the community.

Tembari fielded its own team of men and women, whose jersey uniforms were sponsored by Malaysian expatriate Chew Pang Heng, executive director of resource developer Vanimo Jaya Ltd.

One individual who was all praises for his people was Rex Nichoi, chairman of the ATS Oro Community Association, because “they have shown remarkable discipline and co-operation”.

“Nobody came drunk … there was no fighting, and every one enjoyed the games,” said Nichoi.

“This is our first experience to see a big event like this where nobody created trouble,” Nichoi said of the people who came to watch the games sponsored by day care centre Tembari Children’s Care (TCC).

Held at the Tembari compound, the two-day competition aimed to forge discipline and co-operation from the local people.

Hayward Sagembo, Tembari president, said one of Tembari’s agenda in the community was “to develop a sense of oneness among our people and the volleyball games had been an effective means to achieve it”.

“Everybody came to watch,” Sagembo said, noting that the teams that played were cheered on by their respective fans and supporters, making the games more exciting.

Penny said: “During the games, the people themselves handled the security concern and prevented those who tried to come drunk … if there was a fight brewing, the people immediately dealt with it and resolve the problem …”

EM TV, a local network, sent a crew to cover the final games, an indication that the Tembari sports event, although a modest village affair, was worth all the coverage for a national broadcast.As a background to the games preparation, Penny asked all of us to seek donors / sponsors for the trophies. Again, we all contacted potential donors. Rishabh and myself emailed to various people seeking donors of trophies, volleyball nets and volleyballs. It was not long before RH Foundation, the charity arm of RH (PNG) Group, responded, saying it will shoulder the cost of all trophies to be awarded

Paint company AzkoNobel also responded and wanted to pay for all the trophies. Informed that RH Foundation had already taken them, AzkoNobel settled for the volleyball nets and balls.

Knowing that such events are prone to petty problems caused by unruly people, Rishabh suggested why don’t we keep an award for the “Best District” – the one whose people were not involved in troubles or mischief during the games?”

We again explored and my three friends from HiTRON, a TV cable provider based in Port Moresby, namely Tony, Lourdes and Jocelyn, came to our rescue and shouldered the cost of the “Best District” award.

On other side, Penny met with the district leaders and enjoined them to instill discipline among their people if they wanted the event to succeed. And that the “most-behaved” district will get the “Best District” award.
So, this was the incentive that had kept all the districts on its toes – keeping their respective members well-disciplined, well-behaved till the games finally closed today, Sunday, September 18.

Hopefully, this much-needed discipline stays on – for good.

The launching of the Tembari volleyball events on Independence Day was ushered in by spectacles of sing-sing (cultural dances and songs) from Oro and Central provinces.

Witnessed by about 2,000 settlement people, Tembari’s first foray into a community-wide sports event was already an indication that similar activities in future would get the same involvement from the community.

As always, the three-day community frenzy would not be possible – a big success at that -- without the co-operation of the people.

Community chairman Rex Nichoi really worked hard going around the community and enjoining the people to simply behave their best and enjoy the games.

Our sponsors – RH Foundation, AzkoNobel, the troika of Tony, Loudes and Jocelyn of HiTron – played a big part in bringing this to reality. We really can’t thank them enough.

(The elimination and the final round games for men and women will continue on Saturday, September 24. Five men's teams will vie for the final rounds. Presentation of awards will follow shortly. Tembari's women's team is now assured of a final round slot, while the men's team has failed to score in any round as opposition proved too much for them to handle.)

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A fiercely-fought game on Saturday. At least 18 teams – 10 for men and eight for women – competed in the tournament.

The much-coveted shields and trophies on display during the game.

A women’s game is in progress (right) as seen from behind the trophies.

The Tembari men’s team, which failed to win any game.

The women’s team, led by Penny Sage-embo, Tembari founder (left standing), had advanced into the finals shortly after this picture was taken.

Shower for Tembari kids

Very soon, this Tembari kid would enjoy a bath, at least once a day. Tembari is now finding ways to provide him and the rest of about 200 Tembari kids a daily wash, if not three times a week, thanks to the ample water being supplied by donors Pure Water Company and High Energy Co. – Pic by AP HERNANDEZ

A Friend of Tembari Children

“HOW would you like to wash?” I asked a Tembari kid, age 7, last week.

(“Wash” is a common term here in Papua New Guinea to mean taking a bath or shower.)

“Very much …Fredo … but we got no water at home … so I don’t wash …” the boy replied, jerking the hem of his round shirt collar, sniffing at himself. Then, he made a face.

The boy is not alone in this mess.

I knew that almost all of our about 200 beneficiary children at Tembari don’t wash. They just don’t have the means with which to take a bath -- even once a day.

The simplest reason is that there is not much water to talk about at ATS Oro settlement, home to Tembari Children’s Care day care facility; that the locals here would like to believe it is a curse that befell on them from the sky, instead of rain, which they would prefer having.

For wanting to cut its losses, water company Eda Ranu has drastically reduced the volume of water being supplied to the settlement.

Not only that, it weakened the pumping pressure so that less water would reach the settlement’s public tap where the residents access water.

Over the last two years, I have mingled with the Tembari kids at least every Saturday when I do volunteer work at the day care center – cooking for them special lunch is my forte – and have become used to their body odor.

And some smelled badly at that. I felt sad for our girls who were equally mired in this smelly affair.

And even Hayward Sagembo, Co-Founder and Director of Tembari Children’s Care (TCC), has complained.

He told me last week: “They stink … they badly need a wash …”

But this should end one of these days – or shall I say, very soon.

With 15,000 liters of potable water now being supplied to Tembari every month by two donors, we may be able to let our kids, who wanted to wash, just do that – take a bath.

Says Hayward: “I want to install a shower room near the two water tanks so that those who would like to wash can do so anytime …”

He said Tembari has enough water now – an obvious source of envy from settlement people -- which is stored in two 5,000 liter tanks nearby.

One tank, donated by RH Foundation last year is being refilled by a bulk water contractor every four weeks.

The cost of the water – K300 -- is being paid for by fishing company High Energy, which is based in Port Moresby.

The second tank – a recent donation from Pure Water Company, a water purifier concern also based in Port Moresby – is being topped up by the donor every two weeks for a total of 10,000 liters at a cost of K600 a month.

The manager, Helen MacIndoe told me: “I want you to have enough clean water … this is why I decided to deliver twice a month …”

Before the water tank came just recently, Pure Water Company has already been delivering to Tembari 20 containers (19 liters) of purified water every week.

In fact, the first delivery of 20 containers came with an electric-operated hot-cold water dispenser, which Helen said would be a hygienic way to dispense with drinking water to the kids.

Of the generous 20 containers she delivers every week (usually cost per container is K15), Helen said she wanted to make sure the children have enough clean water to drink always.

Although the bulk water her company delivers to Tembary has been treated (with chlorine), Helen would still prefer that the children drink purified water.

“It is chemical-free,” she said, “and just fine for the kids ...”

True enough, the children are now drinking enough amount of water every after meals.

Time was when the children never drunk water after their meals, only fresh milk or cordial drink whichever was available.

Things have really changed the better for the Tembari kids.

And our volunteer mothers who prepare their meals every day – noon snacks and early dinner – have seen to it that the children wash their hands before every meal.

Requiring the kids to wash their hands was my first instruction to the volunteer mothers after I was able to secure a donation of bulk water from Thomas Kuo, manager of High Energy, last year.

Since then, the practice has been ingrained among the kids.

Hopefully, taking a bath would become an everyday affair for our children.

It is our hope that the Tembari kids could enjoy the simple pleasure of pouring themselves cool water -- from head to foot -- in an act of ridding themselves of germs and skin diseases that have been crawling all over them.

The wash room (bathroom) that we have in mind is simple: A small walled cubicle fitted with a shower tub common in many apartment accommodations around Port Moresby, and with a proper drainage system.

If you think you are able enough to provide us a simple shower tub for our kids’ bathroom – one for girls and the other for boys - please don’t hesitate to contact us.

To go with this appeal is a request for a donation of anti-skin germ soap cakes. And bath towels and five 10-liter buckets.

I am quite certain that once our children have started the daily task of cleansing their bodies, we would be consuming a lot of anti-skin germ bar soaps.

So, please … we need your support on this.

Truly, Tembari has entered a phase in which it has become self-sufficient in clean water, a rare feat that is now greatly benefiting the Tembari children.

This won’t be possible without the continuing support of our generous donors – RH Foundation, High Energy Co and Pure Water Company.

In short, the Tembari kids are getting there.

Meantime, we – with help from our benefactors -- could only work our best for their welfare.

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A friend-donor calls in

Jovy Baltazar, manager of Paradise Business Consultants Ltd or Port Moresby, PNG, turns over a cheque for K7,000 (about US$3,000) to Alfredo P Hernandez, a Filipino expatriate journalist, who received the donation on behalf of the Tembari children. Donated by Engr Ariel Parro, owner and managing director of AP Engineering Ltd, a construction company in East New Britain province, Papua New Guinea, the funds would go towards the building of a 133sqm multi-purpose hall that would house a classroom, a dirty kitchen and an office. – Picture by Paradise Business Consultants.

A Friend of Tembari Children

A FEW days ago, I friend called to say hello and also to say she got some stuff for the Tembari children.

Do I have time to pick the money? She would like to know.

Jovy G Baltazar, is a Filipino expat manager who first joined my network of supporters early last year to help me find new donors.

Her company – the Paradise Business Consultants – deals with immigration documentations for both corporate and individual clients, and is doing good business from investors and professionals wanting to come to PNG, encouraged by the booming economy.

Indeed, Jovy found one -- from among her clients. He is Engineer Ariel Parro, who owns the AP Engineering Ltd based in Takubar, East New Britain, an island- province north of Papua New Guinea.

Engr Parro learned of my plan to put up a three-classroom building for our preschoolers (then only 60 and now 100) and subsequently sent Jovy a cheque for K7,000 and requested her to deliver it to Tembari.

The money, he said, could start Tembari’s effort to raise funds needed to build the school building.

This amount, along with the K3,000 from the Filipino Association of PNG (FAPNG), was recently made as down payment with the Hardware Haus for the prefabricated knockdown building parts for the project.

This project, hopefully, would take off very soon, thanks to the Australian High Commission in PNG and four corporations who pledged to put up the classroom building which will cost K120,000 (US$51,000)

Our donor-engineer, who has been residing in Takubar for 20 years or so, is a PNG naturalized citizen.

“It’s my way of giving back to the community,” he told me over the phone from Takubar when I first talked to him about my project.

Jovy first visited our center at Tembari early last year to have a look-see.

And this coming Saturday, she would like to make her second visit with some of her Filipino office workers – to introduce them to Tembari kids, and maybe make them new donors and/or supporters.

With the funds Jovy gave me last Thursday, I bought about two cartons of 425g Ox&Palm corned beef for the children’s dinner this week.

A dinner of corned beef dish and rice would be a rare treat for our kids whose number has now grown to about 200.

This dish could come only once in a blue moon. And it is always a happy occasion when something new goes into the meals of our children, such as corned beef.

Dinner at Tembari – from Monday to Saturday -- would be rice and tinned fish cooked in veggies, and cordial drink.

However, our kids don’t mind at all. It is food and they are having it every day; and food is something missing at home, blame it on their families’ poverty.

So, when Jovy told me she has raised some money courtesy of her company for our children’s meal, there was only one thing in my mind: buy our kids corned beef, for a change.

So far, we have been able to stabilize food flow at Tembari.

Right now, we are serving two meals daily – noon snacks and early dinner -- to about 200 kids – 100 preschoolers, 79 schoolchildren and the rest non-school age.

Thanks to Jovy and the rest of our generous donors who see to it that foodstuff continue to arrive at the center.

It is their simple way of making sure that our beneficiary children receive the nutrition they needed everyday to keep them beyond ill-health and above hunger.

After all, they could have realized that sustained generosity in support is the key to making their effort succeed in effecting positive changes in the lives of the Tembari children.

Simply put, they are taking a big stake in their future.

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One sunny day in Tembari

A Friend of Tembari Children

WHEREVER the crowd is, there is business to make.

On Saturday, vendors swooped into Tembari compound to cash in on the big crowd that came to watch a volleyball tournament sponsored by Tembari Children’s Care (TCC).

An assortment of foodstuff was on offer – from boiled banana and sweet potatoes to grilled sausages and stewed chicken feet, the last one being an influence from Malaysian cuisine that has now become more or less a part of the diet of well-off Papua New Guineans.

Indeed, a crowd-drawing event such as the volleyball games Tembari had initiated and where the best teams from the village had been discovered was a magnet for food vendors.

Each one offering the spectators something to keep their jaws busy while the games unfolded.

With life going through a difficult grind, food vending has become one life-saving raft for the many.

I managed to catch some scenes with my camera. Have a look.

A long line of food vendors trying to cash in on the crowd that came to watch the volleyball tournament being held at Tembari compound at the weekend. (All pictures by AP HERNANDEZ, Port Moresby, PNG, September 17, 2011)

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A day at Tembari - September 10, 2011

A Friend of Tembari Children

SATURDAY is always especial for Tembari kids. This is because some surprises would come, as usual, and such are always packed with goodies from generous donors and supporters. On Saturday, September 10, 2011, there was frenzy among the kids. Have a look to find out why.

These three kids could be the happiest among who received clothing items from the children of The Ela Murray International School (TEMIS)of Port Moresby, PNG. Beaming with pride, they pose with their new preschool uniforms.

Penny Sagembo, Tembari Co-Founder Co-President, stands by the of the Tembari office as she distributes donated clothing items to the Tembari beneficiary children. The donation came from the children of The Ela Murray International School (TEMIS) in Port Moresby, PNG. The PMIS children also donated K900 (more than US$300)to Tembari to pay for the cost of the day care center's electric consumption. The funds to buy the clothing items and the cash donation were raised from the children's daily school pocket money, according to Ms Narelle Levey, who coordinated the children's donation.

Tembari kids beam as they show off the school uniforms they received from the children of The Ela Murray International School (PMIS) on Saturday, September 10, 2011.

Penny and this girl are proudly displaying two clothing items which were given away shortly.

Children crowd by the door of the container van that serves as Tembari office as they await their turn to the clothes that Penny is distributing.

Penny Sagembo distributes donated clothing items to the children.

This girl is lucky to have received a nice red T-shirt. It is one of the clothing items that have been donated by a group of children at The Ela Murray International School (TEMIS) in Port Moresby.

This girl is proudly displaying a new colorful skirt which she received from the children of The Ela Murray International School (TEMIS) in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. The children have donated several boxes of brand-new clothing items, from T-shirts, polo shirts, skirts, blouses, jeans for Tembari beneficiaries.

A volunteer mother carries a tray of meals for the children.

A volunteer mom with her kids fetches water from one of the two tanks at Tembari compound.

Volunteer mothers washing the dishes after the children were done with their lunch.

A volunteer mother building fire for a pot of dish.

Lynne Saunders, community liaison officer at the Australian Embassy in Port Moresby. She's one of our major donors to our school building project for our preschoolers.

Waiting for lunch ...

Young girls give their best smiles and pose. They are among Tembari's grown up kids.

Finally, it's lunch time at Tembari day care center.

Volunteer mothers cooking the day's lunch of rice and noodle soup.

Preschoolers killing time chatting inside their classroom, while waiting for lunch to be served.

Kids waiting for their Saturday lunch to be cooked.

Away from the maddening crowd... This Tembari kid finds peace with his computer game beside a 5,000-liter tank at the Tembari compound.

- All pictures by blogger A P HERNANDEZ, Port Moresby, PNG

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Australians, firms to build school for Tembari kids

Donors to the school building project, (left) Shane Morris, manager of Game Development – PNG National Rugby League & Brisbane Broncos; Lynne Saunders, community liaison officer, Australian High Commission; Helen MacIndoe, manager of Pure Water Company; Charlotta Rayner Johansson and Jyoti Nair of AzkoNobel Ltd.

Penny Sagembo (right), Tembari Co-Founder and Co-President , presenting the school building project to corporate donors’ representatives. – More pictures by AP HERNANDEZ after story.

A Friend of Tembari Children

THE Tembari children are on a roll.

They have inched a notch higher in their quest for education that continually eludes many Papua New Guinean children.

On Thursday, September 8, Tembari’s preschool education program received the biggest boost it could never have imagined.

This was the day when the Australian High Commission in PNG, along with executives from four companies in Port Moresby forged a common front to put up a school building to house four classrooms for Tembari’s 100 or so preschool children.

The cost of the structure is no joke: K120,000 (about US$51,000)

Led by Lynne Saunders from the Australian High Commission representing Roxanne Martens, wife of Aussie High Commissioner to PNG Ian Kemish, the donors converged on Tembari’s day care facility at a settlement outside of the city to see for themselves how things were at the preschool.

Our new donors representing their respective companies are Charlotta Rayner Johansson, Jyoti Nair and Andy Amoko of paint maker AkzoNobel; Helen McIndoe of Pure Water Company, a water purifier; Diane de Villiers of foodstuff makerGoodman Fielder; and Stef Dwyer and Boga Tau of building supplier Hardware Haus.

Inspecting the facility, they learned for themselves the stark reality: 100 preschoolers grouped into three cramped classes.

They are among 200 abandoned, neglected and orphans who are provided education (preschool and elementary) and served meals twice a day.

Of the preschoolers, two groups hold sessions in makeshift classrooms, while the third under the shade of a mango tree.

Tembari’s preschool program began sometime in 2005 with only a handful of young learners simply because there was no facility to properly cater for them.

But as a day care facility, Tembari began the hard grind in 2003 when it was established by Rishabh Bhandari, Penny Sagembo, and Hayward Sagembo, with their own resources.

In 2008, Digicel Foundation took notice of Tembari’s preschool education program – also brainchild of Rishabh and Penny, and provided it with two community learning center facilities (CLCs) fashioned out of junk container van.

When Digicel Foundation came in that year, there were only 50 children at the facility, with about 30 preschoolers. The rest were attending elementary schools.

When I met the Tembari kids in December 2009, there were already 78 kids – 45 preschoolers and the rest were graders.

But not enough support from donors in terms of food, materials and funding.

So I promised the kids that I will look for people who would provide them money,
foodstuff and materials so that they would eat -- not just three times a week -- but every day, from Monday to Saturday; and that they would eat not just sweet potatoes and sliced bread but rice, tinned meat and tinned fish and vegetables.

And whenever my time allowed me, I would cook them a nice lunch of rice-beef or chicken on Saturdays, courtesy of my generous Saturday feeding donors.

Now, Tembari’s population shot up to about 200, with 100 of them in preschool and 79 attending elementary and primary education. The rest are non-school age.

And they are now having enough food twice every day, from Monday to Saturday, thanks to our generous donors.

In presenting the school building project to the corporate sponsors last Thursday, Penny Sage-embo thanked and assured them that their support towards the project will greatly benefit Tembari’s growing number of preschool beneficiaries.

She said that right now, two classes were holding sessions indoors while the third group did it under the shade of a tree.

Tembari, being a community-based organization that receives modest funding from donors, would like to take in as many as young learners as it could from the village, Sage-embo said.

“Their numbers are growing but our facility here at Tembari would not; it could no longer cope with this,” she said.

“We don’t have enough space for all of them and it is a pity,” Sage-embo said.

She told the donors that Tembari has begun the process of acquiring a proper title to the 3,000sqm property – a state land - that the facility occupies at ATS Oro settlement.

“This is the only way for us to make sure that the forthcoming school building is in good hands,” she said.

The Australian High Commission decided to help.

It learned of Tembari’s need for a school building through anetwork of donors that we have established over the past two years.

Lynne Saunders, who is Community Liaison Officer at the consulate and at the same time representing the charity work of Roxanne Martens, wife of Ambassador Kemish, put together a small group that could support the consulate in this endeavor.

She came up with four corporate donors: AzkoNobel, Goodman Fielder, Pure Water Company and Hardware Haus.

The 19m by 7m classroom building will be constructed using prefab-knockdown parts, to be provided by HausKit, a division of Hardware Haus., PNG’s biggest hardware supplies company.

Of the K120,000 (US$51,000)-building cost, the consulate will shoulder K70,000 (US$29,750) which will be made available on a turn-key basis.

Funding would be released to Hardware Haus as the need for more building materials arises and until the project is completed.

The building will sit on posts high enough to give ample space below, which could be developed later into additional classrooms, storage and others.

The actual cost of materials to complete the building is K100,000 (US$42,000). However, Hardware Haus chopped it down to K70,000, with the K30,000 (US$12,750) discount as its share in the project.
Paint company AkzoNobel will supply paint materials and other items costing K20,000 (US$8,500).

Pure Water Company will provide bulk water for the school building’s sanitation facilities at a cost of K600 (US$255) a month.

Pure Water operates its own water dam outside the city and supplies treated bulk and purified bottled water to corporate users that included the PNG LNG Project.

Just recently, Hayward Sagembo, Tembari president, made a down payment of K10,000 (US$4,250) for the building materials.

This fund was a combined donation from Engineer Ariel Parro, who owns AP Engineering Ltd based in Takubar, East New Britain, north of Papua New Guinea, and the Filipino Association of PNG (FAPNG) under Tony Valdez.

I told them about our building plan and they did not hesitate to chip in.

The K10,000 down payment will “lock” the current prices of building materials which have been expected to go up in the next several months.

Likewise, Hayward began the process of acquiring a land title to the lot in the name of Tembari Children’s Care (TCC) Inc.

On Thursday during the project presentation to the donors, a private land surveyor visited the facility to have a look of the place.

A land survey document will be needed before a title of deeds could be processed and issued on behalf of Tembari.

So far, things are moving a bit fast. We hope that our preschool building project would become a reality soon.

We started the quest for decent classrooms when our under-the-mango-tree preschool class was rained out on a few occasions early this year. Each time, we were forced to send them home as we did not have enough space to shelter them from the rain.
Now, our quest has finally ended as the picture of a new school building looms in the horizon.

And the community at ATS Oro settlement is looking forward to seeing it in wood, bricks, metals and all.

The number of less-privileged young learners from the village – Tembari’s targeted children -- is growing and ours is the only facility in the area to cater for them.

And to our young beneficiaries – our preschoolers - having a decent place of learning would make a big difference in their lives.

It would be a big jump from a makeshift classroom fashioned from a junk container van where they crowd themselves out every day.

And it is a giant leap from a tarpaulin-covered ground classroom under a mango tree for a classroom, whose prospect of being rained out one day has become a daily threat.

Truly, Tembari’s young learners are looking up.

And I still can’t believe that the Australian High Commission, Goodman Fielder, AzkoNobel, Pure Water Company and Hardware Haus would invest in the future of the Tembari kids.

But then I have realized that our generous donors wanted to be among the bricks that would build the great foundation of their future.

And that is really cool.

Thanks to you guys!

Lynne Saunders (left) with Charlotte, a Tembari volunteer mother.

Diane de Villiers of Goodman Fielder and her assistant; Charlotta Rayner Johansson of AzkoNobel; and Helen MacIndoe, manager of Pure Water Company.

The Tembari cultural (sing-sing) group posing for a picture with their leader (standing behind) Janet, a preschool teacher at Tembari. They entertained the guests with cultural dances from their province Oro during the ceremony.

Tembari Co-Founder and Co-President, Penny Sagembo and a beneficiary kid displaying a shirt from a donation from the children of The Ela Murray International School in Port Moresby.

Tembari blogger AP Hernandez … cant help but smile, seeing the building project finally taking off.

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