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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