Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hands washing among Tembari children -- no thanks to Colgate-Palmolive

The Tembari children fall in line to wash their hands before having lunch. The kids were introduced to hands washing early last year as part of Tembari's effort to promote their health and well-being. This picture was taken one Saturday during a feeding session, which is carried out everyday from Monday to Saturday. - More hand washing pictures by AP HERNANDEZ after the story.

A Friend of Tembari Children

LONG before Digicel, through its foundation, and Colgate-Palmolive initiated mass hands washing in Port Moresby last week in an obvious move to boost sales under the veil of “health consciousness and awareness drive”, the Tembari children have already been at it all along.

When I began my special Saturday lunch cooking for the children in January of 2010, the first thing that I did was to acquaint the Tembari kids with basic hygiene, starting from washing hands before every meal.

And this has been the scene just moments before meals were served– a long line of children who awaited their turn to the two basins of water and a cake of soap – which happened to be a “was-was” soap bar, it being cheap.

But before the actual daily-before-meal washing of hands could take place, the children were shown how washing of their hands should be done.

Penny Sage-embo, Tembari’s founder and program coordinator, held a hands washing demonstration with some 100 kids –preschoolers and school children – keenly watching Penny’s hand motions – the proper way to wash hands.

Penny told the kids that washing their hands properly with soap and water will get rid of germs their hands had picked up while they were playing or holding things. Or after using the toilet for that matter.

These germs, the children learned, were the cause of many diseases that could make them ill, like diarrhea and other stomach troubles.

The habit of washing their hands has been instilled among our children ever since.

And with abundant clean water at Tembari stored in its two 5,000-liter tanks – thanks to our generous donors who each delivers the volume once a month – the more I prodded our volunteer mothers to see to it that the children washed their hands properly and thoroughly every before meals.

Aware of the cost of a cake/bar of bath soap that is normally used for washing hands, I wrote to Colgate Palmolive in Port Moresby for some sort of a donation of this product for use of Tembari children, who during that time numbered 110 (they have grown to 200 nowadays).

Sadly, my request for such was turned down, saying something like Tembari children were not in the agenda.

Not to be discouraged, I approached one of the Filipino sales staff of RH Hypermart who handled Colgate-Palmolive account with RH hyper and pushed my request.

You see, RH Hypermart is Colgate-Pamolive’s biggest outlet for its products and maybe, as courtesy to the supermarket, particularly its general manager CC Ang, who personally endorsed such request, the soap company would accommodate the request.

Damn! It was also declined for the same reason earlier given.

My biased opinion is that Tembari children are “non-revenue” as far as the company is concerned and that they wouldn’t help the company generate sales and of course, profit.

So, I approached other donors for a donation of this product and eventually obtained it.

At Tembari, the scene of children washing hands brought back some childhood memories.

Washing my hands was initially introduced to me by my mother (of course), to which I did not pay attention much.

It was one of those things he told me that I ignored in one way or the other.

However, at school the same first-time activity was initiated by our school nurse in the classroom.

This time, with her wearing a speckless white uniform and wearing a white cap in her hair, I found her story about germs and all credible, so I decided to develop the habit.

Besides, our teacher, who was at the same time our class adviser, saw to it that every day our hands looked germ-less.

Otherwise, she would hit them with a stick and would send us to the nearby water tap with small piece of cake soap.

Well, some little story.

The big one is that the Tembari children need a lot of cake soap – any brand for that matter – for their daily hands washing.

Any donation of this item is most welcome.

Don’t bother about clean water to wash their hands with. It’s been taken care of.


Penny Sage-embo, Tembari founder and program coordinator demonstrating how the children should wash their hands with soap and water.

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