Friday, November 16, 2012

Malaysian community donates to Tembari

MAPNG organizing committee chairman Ivan Lu and Pang Heng Chew (fourth and fifth from left) present the mock cheque for K40,000 to Penny Sage-embo (second from left). With them are the children-beneficiary of Tembari.

A Friend of Tembari Children

WITH funds in its bank account almost exhausted, day care center Tembari Children’s Care suddenly came alive to a windfall of K40,000 donation from the Malaysian Association of PNG.
The presentation of the generous donation in the form of a mock cheque for the amount took place at Tembari center at ATS Oro Settlement, 7-Mile, outside Port Moresby.
The mock cheque was received by Penny Sage-embo, Tembari founder and program/project coordinator.
MAPNG chairman of the organizing committee Ivan Lu said the funding was aimed to support the center’s feeding program and day to day operations.
He told the people from the Oro ATS Community that the association has been supporting and funding the center since three years ago.
“Make sure the charity organisation (Tembari) is responsible, transparent and accountable,” he said.
Lu, who is the senior executive director of Rimbunan Hijao (PNG), had urged that the money donated to the children’s facility be used wisely.
Saying that MAPNG had funded 16 other charitable groups, he stressed that the association also represents other sponsors and potential donors that may be interested in funding the center.
Centre founder and project coordinator Penny Sage-embo thanked the association for its support.
She said this was the third time the association had donated to the centre.
Sage-embo said since the centre began in 2008, there had no major funding by any donor or the government other than the Malaysian association and the Filipino Association in PNG.
Association vice-president, Pang Hang Chew said he hoped to continue the funding annually in the coming years.
MAPNG is headed by CC Ang as president.

Re-introducing the Tembari Children

A Friend of Tembari

WHEN I met the Tembari kids for the first time in December of 2009, there were only 78 of them.

To date, Tembari’s beneficiary children number 175. It used to be about 200 towards late last year, but for one reason or the other, part of the 25 absentee kids have not been coming for TCC services regularly while others completely dropped out.

The present 175 Tembari kids are receiving services such as preschool education, elementary and primary education alongside the daily feeding that takes place from Monday to Saturday. What’s more, they are getting a place they can call their home away from home.

We provide them meals every day – an early dinner – from Monday to Saturday, thanks to our generous donors.

Our beneficiary children are orphans, abandoned and neglected who live with their “bubu” relatives and guardians around the village.

Of the 175 beneficiary children, 28 are preschoolers, 95 are schoolchildren (43 elementary and 52 primary) enrolled at Wardstrip Elementary School (Gordons), 6-Mile Holy Rosary Elementary School, St Peter (Erima) Elementary School, Wildlife (Motokea) Elementary School, Philip Alaope and Ted Diro Primary (Murray Barracks), and the rest (52) comprise the following: Thirty-five (35) kids below 6 years; and 17 over-age kids (14 years old and below) but not in school.

At present, TCC’s Preschool Program covers 70 kids. Of these, 28 are TCC beneficiaries while the other 42 others are children from the community who are living with a complete set of parents – mother and father who are financially able to support them.

The outsider-kids are using our preschool facilities since we are the only preschool center at the village (ATS Oro Settlement); we have to take them in as part of our functions as a Community-based Organization (CBO). It is also a deal we signed with Digicel Foundation when they provided us with two fitted containers that now serve as classroom and office.

We receive foodstuff donations such as rice, tinned fish and milk from individual and corporate donors.

To provide services to such a big number of beneficiaries, TCC requires help from cooks, preschool teachers and others.

During my first year with Tembari (2010) as volunteer fund/foodstuff chaser, all help was provided by volunteers. But as I managed to get funding from donors and supporters, the volunteers demanded that they also be paid for their services just like the pre-school teachers.

There was a time when we were unable to pay the preschool teachers as funds ran short and the teachers walked out for several days, living the preschoolers with nothing to do at the center.

So, when I found new money, we hired a paid staff to do the daily dirty jobs. These hired staff comprise of three (3) cooks, one (1) center administrator; and a cleaner (janitor) who would keep the premises in order. This is alongside the paid preschool teachers.

We have to maintain a paid staff because this is the only way to keep them working for us and sustain our services to the children.

I am also thinking of hiring a night security guard to protect our property from drunkards, raskols and trouble makers in the village, at a rate of K100 a fortnight. 

The whole village is aware that we are storing substantial foodstuff in one of our containers, which is a potential magnet for thievery.

The Head Teacher that we hired is a Certified Teacher who was retrenched sometime ago. She used to work as Head Teacher at her former school. At Tembari, she is responsible for designing and evaluating the effectiveness of the curriculum for our Preschool Program, running in-service training for the two support teachers, supervising the daily classroom activities, maintaining school records of individual preschoolers and other pertinent data and coordinating with the School Principal at Wardstrip on behalf of our elementary schoolchildren. She also handles a daily class. She lives in the community and was idle for some time. We realized that she got the experience that would help improve our early-age education program.

The Administrative Officer takes care of documenting donations that came in, monitor the daily withdrawal of foodstuff that would be cooked for the day’s meal; monitor and record the number of cordial bottles and milk packs used for the daily feeding; monitor the daily attendance of staff and beneficiary children during feeding that takes place in the afternoon (early dinner), taking stock of Tembari properties, liaise with Wardstrip Elementary School and donors. He also doubles as secretary and do official errands for Tembari.

Most important, he records spending related to the daily feeding program – cooking ingredients – checking if they are properly supported with receipts and related documents. And PMV fares.

The volunteer auditor from Deloitte has required us that such records of spending be properly supported with receipts otherwise, money spent without backup docs would be considered as unaccounted for. This is very difficult for our cooks, especially when they buy foodstuff (veggies and others) at the Gordon’s market where receipts are unheard of.

But I am trying to come up with the necessary forms – vouchers, petty cash vouchers, receipts, ledgers and others – to meet the requirements for transparency.

We are doing our best of institute changes in our financial operations because this is the only way to attract funding donors and assure them of transparency in the use of the money they donated.

For instance, I have done away with cheque signatories who are related – husband and wife. This is the case of Penny Sage-embo and Hayward Sagembo who are both officers of TCC. Penny is the founder-program coordinator while Hayward is the president.

Familiar with the complications resulting from having husband-and-wife cheque signatories, the volunteer auditor from a prestigious accounting-auditing in POM firm has demanded that one of them resign his/her signing authority.

I took over to become the second signatory, while a British expatriate, who actively supports our pre-school classroom building project, became the third signatory. So, this time, only Hayward Sagembo, the TCC president, the British expat-volunteer and I have the signing authority.

But before I sign any cheque, I see to it that I know the items the money would cover. And as soon as the items have been bought, I demand that the receipts be given to me for a tally-up with the drawn cheque.

This job is quite awkward because I don’t actually see the items that are bought - ingredients that go into the cooking of the daily meals and many other stuffs; I only see the receipts, if they are available.

I hope to appropriately handle our cash flows, and keep it going till the next funding from our generous donors come again - that is after a year.

We are maintaining two accounts: one at BSP and the other at Westpac.

If you think you can support us in our goal of improving the lives of the Tembari children so that they would have a normal life -- happy and with peace of mind, educated, well-nourished and healthy -- just like the rest of their more-fortunate peers in the community, please let me know.

For feedback, email the writer: and

Friday, November 2, 2012

Tinned fish and all … an update

The bunch of firewood donation that was delivered on Friday to Tembari center, courtesy of a timber dealer based in Port Moresby.

A Friend of Tembari Children

Firewood donation … The Tembari daily feeding program has received a big boost in the form of firewood donated by a timber dealer in Port Moresby. At least, the bunch of scrap timber and off-cuts which was delivered on Friday afternoon could last for a month’s cooking, according to one the mothers involved in preparing the kids’ daily meals. Until the firewood delivery, Tembari had being buying everyday a bundle at a cost of K10 – or K60 for a six-day feeding session. About 130 to 150 children are served early dinner every day. The firewood has been safely stored to prevent village thieves from being stealing it.

Electrical fire hits center … A few days ago, the Tembari office was hit by an electrical fire, caused by a faulty wiring. A small fire charred the entire installation at the center’s office, which is housed in a modified container. An inspector from PNG Power who came later said the wiring system starting from the switch box must be replaced. A hardware outlet – the Paradise Hardware – has provided the replacement materials, which would be installed soon as the center needs electricity for its various electrical appliances such as a freezer, fridge and premises lighting.

Cooking mothers prepare the day's meal...

Noodle consumption … Instant noodles have become an important part of the Tembari children’s daily meal. It is being cooked together with greens and sausages or chicken meat, if available, and served along with a bowl of rice. The soup of the noodle dish makes the rice meal enjoyable. The daily meal – dinner at this instance -- becomes filling, which could last the children the whole night. According to our cooks, they use at least six packs of instant noodles every day – from Monday to Saturday. With the cash crunch now bugging Tembari’s feeding program, I’m appealing to donors who may be able to supply Tembari children on a weekly basis a carton of noodles (one carton contains 42 packs), or four cartons a month. This would greatly relieve Tembari of the burden using its limited funds, which it could use instead on other items. 

Tired of tinned fish … RD Tuna supplies the Tembari children 15 cartons of its product a month. During the earlier months after we first received this generous donation, tuna meat has become a major part of the children’s daily meal – dinner for that matter. Then after a time, one of the kids told me he got tired of having tuna every day for his meal, although it is cooked with greens. He said he wanted to have something that tastes like meat. Last month, a donor made it possible – he sent frozen sausages and frozen chicken meat, enough to cheer up the kids for three weeks. The goodies consumed,  they fell back to tinned fish again. Since it was only a one-time sausage-chicken meat donation, the children have to settle for tuna once again until somebody would come forward to provide the kids this important meat protein. The meat donor spent at least K1,000 to make a great change in the children’s meal. Quite a sum, but it’s worth it for those who really wanted to help. In a way, he earned a credit for several building blocks towards strengthening the children’s future, and I am personally grateful for his gesture.