By ALFREDO P 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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