By ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ
AFTER making a headcount of orphans who came for last Saturday’s feeding session, he walked back to me and said: “Fredo, we got 51 kids today. Anyway, attendance is better today than last Saturday’s.”
Actually, this should be a big concern, but Hayward Sagembo was not worried.
“Guardian parents are now realising that we are doing our best to serve these orphans, making the most of what we got here so they are again letting their kids to come back and have food from our soup kitchen.
Hayward, 34, is the chairman of the Tembari Children’s Care (TCC) Inc, an orphanage looking after at least 78 children who reside with respective parent-guardians at ATS Oro Settlement at Seven-Mile outside of Port Moresby.
Since 2003 when there were only 35 orphans under its care, TCC has been giving lunch meal to the settlement orphans at least four times a week, including a Saturday feeding session.
The past seven years were crunch years as they had spent their own money to pay for orphans’ food. These days, however, they are better off with some modest funding help from two foundations, a private vessel towing company and kind-hearted individuals.
But two Saturdays ago, the feeding attendance dropped to 45.
“You see,” he told me after a feeding session last Saturday: “We are having problems with some people in the settlement. They are spreading wrong information to parents and guardians of those orphans about TCC.
“I feel that they are out to ruin our program for these kids and I know their motives.”
“They” are those individuals who, after failing in politics, have recently started their own “feeding programme” at the settlement.
But the trouble is that they are trying to ‘pirate’ the kids from TCC’s so they could gather as much children as they could and use the statistics for funding proposals to foundations and funding institutions.
And this has upset
One such lie is that TCC is just holding feeding sessions to get funds and pocket them, an allegation which he vehemently denied.
He explained: As a community-based organisation (CBO) registered with the Investment Promotion Authority (IPA), TCC is governed by laws and by its own constitution, with counter-checks from officers for transparency in all its activities, including its spending.
“But what is worst is that they are telling settlement parents that our kids are orphans of people who died from HIV/AIDS and that these kids are infected or HIV-positive, this is, of course, untrue!”
Such misinformation, says
The fact is,
“Those parents, being ignorant that they are, are getting confused of the information fed to them by TCC’s rival groups, because if these were true, how come TCC is getting full support from foundations like WeCare and Digicel Foundation?”
Just to think that WeCare just spent more than K7, 000 in school fees on TCC’s 42 school-age children who are now enrolled in 17 preparatory and elementary schools around
Aside from that, WeCare and a Port Moresby-based vessel towing company Pacific Towing Ltd led by its general manager, John Whitfield, are each giving a monthly grant of K400 to pay for the cost of TCC’s four times-a-week feeding program and related expenses.
And because of the consistency in the way Hayward, Penny, who is the TCC founder and coordinator and the volunteer mothers have pursued their services to the kids, kind-hearted individuals are now volunteering to sponsor TCC’s Saturday feeding where the orphans are given especially-cooked lunch.
Marina van der Vlies, chief executive of Digicel Foundation, a TCC benefactor, earlier described Penny as “visionary” for the great things she and her volunteers have done to look after the orphans’ education.
To neutralise the negative effects of misinformation, its volunteer-mothers went around the settlement, and are still doing so these days, explaining to guardian parents TCC’s welfare programme.
Finally, doubting parents have seen the light, having been convinced of TCC’s earnestness in helping the kids.
“We are right here in their midst, we see each child’s problem at once and we try to deal with such and we have instilled in the minds of well-meaning parent-guardians that they should own TCC and support it. They should consider TCC as their own because it’s the one that will take care of orphans left to them by their deceased parents.”
While TCC sits right in the settlement, other social-oriented groups trying to operate at ATS Oro Settlement are Port Moresby-based. The settlement is home to 9,000 people of whom 3,000 are children.
“They are all based in Port Moresby … they come to the settlement to interview local people, gather facts and stats, submit their funding grant proposals to relevant institutions, and disappear for good once the cheques are released,” Hayward said.
“Their supposed resources – the poor people, particularly the children who are supposed to benefit from such grants, are here in the settlement but these groups are operating away from them, with no contact at all their only link is the fact that they had been used to obtain such funding grants.
“I think this is not right.”
Because TCC is blind to churches’ denominations, it effectively serves the nutritional, education and parental needs of its children who are from 10 different religious groups.
But in the case of churches providing social services at the settlement, which
“Their delivery of services is ineffective, because not everyone gets the benefit from money these churches receive from donors, including the Government. Government funds should not discriminate anyone.”
“If you belong to a particular denomination, you are not welcome to receive the benefits, say medical or educational, and you don’t get fed, as in a feeding program despite your hunger because you don’t belong to their church. How could this happen to our people who are all children of one God?”
Well, there are many more “anomalous” situations floating around but TCC, through
Oh yes, last Saturday, two new guardian parents came to see Hayward and Penny to ‘enroll’ with TCC five newly-orphaned kids who were left to their care.
Five more mouths to feed add to TCC’s burden, but it’s all right.
(If you wish to sponsor the special Saturday lunch meal for the 83 orphans and abandoned kids, which costs at least K150, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. After buying all the ingredients, I do the cooking myself. One reader of this column, Mr John Whitfield, GM for Pacific Towing Ltd,