Hayward Sagembo and wife Penny. – Pictures courtesy of JOE HENI/The Nationalpics
Thursday, October 22, 2015
More help rolls in for Tembari children
The newly-opened elementary school building with four classrooms for at least 160 learners.
From front left: Malaysian High Commissioner to PNG Kuminding and Ivan Lu, chairman of the Malaysian Association organizing committee and former association president, showing off a dummy cheque for K50,000. With them are Tembari president Sagembo (centre back) and the center’s children.
The children of Tembari center.
1. The new toilet for the boys. A separate toilet tor the girls is found in the same building..
By ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ
THE Tembari children are on a roll.
First, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill donated to the Tembari Children’s Center at 6-Mile, a two-level, four-classroom building through his foundation, The PM Peter O’Neill Foundation. This cost around K120,000 to build.
As a bonus, the foundation also built for the children an ablution block fitted with four toilets each for the boys and girls, and two separate wash basins. This facility also has four laundry tubs. The cost: At least K250,000.
The classroom building features an office upstairs and a kitchen below.
The building and the bath house were inaugurated two weeks ago, with the Prime Minister cutting the ribbon to signal them ready for use.
Now, enter the second reason why Planet Tembari (www.tembari.blogspot.com) continues to spin and celebrate even up to these days.
Just last week, the center received a grant of K50,000 from the Malaysian Association of PNG.
It’s no small amount to speak of as far as this second home to about 370 children is concerned. It is because the grant will support the facility’s daily feeding programmes for almost a year.
For about six years now, Tembari’s beneficiary children are enjoying a meal once a day from Monday to Saturday.
Part of the grant will pay for the personnel that make the Tembari programmes function efficiently. Four teachers educate the pre-schoolers and pupils in Grades 1 to 4.
Every day, three cooks tirelessly prepare the children’s early dinner, which they usually have by 5pm. After the meal, the kids go home to their relatives for the night and return to the center the next day for their classes – and meals. The cycle repeats itself daily.
Providing nourishment to the less-privileged children of the Oro Settlement at 7-Mile and educating them have been the two pillars that keep Tembari on overdrive.
These two major programmes are the main reasons why more and more poor kids from the settlement wanted to come to Tembari.
But despite the seeming outpouring of assistance, funds and foodstuff are limited.
With a tight annual budget to work with, the center’s management has decided to keep its direct beneficiaries at 200 – those we feed and provide education to -- although this could be increased depending on extra funding.
And today at my budget meeting with Hayward Sagembo, the Tembari president, I reiterated that we limit the number of our beneficiary children to 200.
I did it as the center’s Funds Custodian, a volunteer job that’s giving me a lot of headaches, especially when it comes to stretching our funds till the next donation comes, if ever one comes around.
The rest of the children are from well-off settlement families who send their children to Tembari for schooling as it is the only one available in the community.
And expectedly, the children have found more reasons to come to Tembari, especially at these times.
Prime Minister O’Neil said he wanted to help the children of Oro Settlement get an education, stressing that this would happen with Tembari’s involvement.
He promised Hayward Sagembo, Tembari’s president and founder Penny Sage-embo, a second classroom building. This way, more school-age children from the settlement will get a chance to enter school.
About a week ago, Malaysian High Commissioner Jilid Kuminding presented the cheque for K50,000 grant to the center.
Impressed with what he had seen at the center, the High Commissioner said he was pleased that Tembari was progressing well.
“This only shows the center is well-managed, otherwise people will not be willing to give. I commend the center’s management for its effort, which can be seen through the center’s progress.”
Ivan Lu, chairman of the Malaysian Association organising committee and former association president, said: “The Malaysian community is happy to be involved with Tembari because over the years, we can see that the center is gradually changing.”
The grant’s handover was witnessed by Tembari’s jubilant beneficiary children and local people.
“The Malaysian Association is pleased to continue supporting Tembari’s feeding programme, a gesture which we actually began six years ago,” Lu said.
“There have been many physical developments that transpired at Tembari since we first came here in 2010, when we presented our first grant.
“This means that the money which the Malaysian people in Papua New Guinea had raised is properly being used for what it was intended, and we are pleased about this.”
Lu said with funding benefits that change the lives of the less-privileged children, the Malaysian community in Papua New Guinea would like to be a partner in giving the kids new hopes.
Penny Sage-embo, Tembari’s founder and programme coordinator, said the new classrooms would give much comfort to the children, who until now still held classes under the mango trees within the Tembari premises.
She said each of the new classrooms, which would take in a minimum of 40 learners, badly needed writing desks.
“We will hire at least two more teachers to handle new classes, on top of the four we now have,” she said.
For the settlement children, the erection of the school building has assured them of a place at Tembari school every term.
The great thing is that it is just near home.
In fact, many of the Tembari-sponsored children right now are attending elementary education in at least four schools in far away Port Moresby.
The distance to schools from Oro settlement has been a big problem for many parents, who cannot afford K2 for their children’s daily bus fares, which meant there were times when the kids would miss school for a day or two.
For the Tembari management, the school building has become a very significant milestone, boosting its reputation as community-based organization in a poor settlement.
Founded in 2003 by Penny, Tembari started with only five street children, who were abandoned, neglected and orphaned.
Those days, Penny and two of her mother-friends were just chipping in some money to feed the children with whatever meals bought with their meager funds.
When I joined Tembari as volunteer in December 2009, there were already 78 children – abandoned, orphaned and neglected.
But the facility could only feed the kids three days in a week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday -- with just kaukau, yams, veggies, sliced bread and cordial drinks.
Cooking Filipino dishes for the kids every Saturday using funds raised from expatriate friends, I asked the management if I could help seek donations so the children would have food six days a week.
The flow of support, in one way or the other, has continued to this day.
And now that Tembari is firmly rooted in the community as a facility that caters for the less-privileged children, Penny has bigger plans to push.
But right now, the important thing is that the kids no longer have to roam around the settlement when they should be in school.
They have finally found a second home in Tembari, where family love that has been missing at home is present here – always. It is their second home with lots of love around.
To date, the facility caters for close to 400 children, of whom 120 are direct beneficiaries of Tembari. And their number is giving more and more pressure on our meager resources.
We thank our donors, supporters and the goodness of our Lord. With their help, and God willing, the Tembari kids will get there.
Alfredo P Hernandez is Tembari’s Vice-President and Funds Custodian. Individuals or parties who would like to help can email; email@example.com
Hayward Sagembo and wife Penny. – Pictures courtesy of JOE HENI/The Nationalpics