Channa, 17, a member of our program, passed away July 11,2014 in Phnom Penh.
Channa and her family have received support via our “ Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for their Children” program which is posted on GlobalGiving. Our first encounter with Channa came when her family began participation in Kasumisou Foundation's AIDS Patient Family Support Program ( FSP) in 2002.
Channa was HIV positive from birth. She was about 4 when she and her mom joined our program . In 2000,when Kasumisou Foundation's AIDS Patient Family Support Program began, about 40% of our parent program members with HIV/AIDS died within 12 months of joining our program. Although it often took longer for children to become symptomatic, without treatment options, these children’s lifetimes were often brief once they fell ill. In mid 2002,we began to be able to provide the new life prolonging anti-retroviral drugs to moms and kids as funding and the drugs became more widely available.
Channa and her mother were both able to receive drug support once the drugs became available. For years we provided housing and food support for the family and Channa and her family lived a hard but reasonably stable life. We supported Channa's school attendance and as a youngster, she attended various activities and outings sponsored by our program.
Her mother also worked very hard, when her health permitted , to try to provide for the family, but even with the assistance of our program, Channa’s family remained mired in poverty. As Channa grew older and became a teenager, she became quite despondent about her life. Channa decided to stop going to school. Although HIV positive, she also decided to stop taking the drugs that had suppressed her illness. Despite our home care team’s urgent efforts to engage Channa and persuade her to change her mind and restart her treatment , she remained depressed. For a while, as a teenager, we were able to persuade Channa to work as a youth volunteer with children residing at the National Orphanage. The children who reside at the National Orphanage are generally those who are categorized as “ unadoptable” due to health issues such as serious physical and mental impairment and/or their HIV status. Channa seemed to enjoy her work there and we were told that she had a wonderful way with the resident children. But after several months , Channa decided to stop her volunteer work and her health continued to decline.
Kasumisou Foundation has for years, provided the required "stable lifestyle" for hundreds of homeless patients, moms and kids, providing housing, food, social support and guidance to help patients like Channa and her mom. The stable lifestyle, our program’s social support and access to medical care kept this fragile family, Channa, her younger brother and her mom, together. Her mother remains in the program, caring for Channa's younger brother, who is now in middle school.
The assistance provided by our program changed Channa's story and those of many others over the years from a nameless short life and early death on the streets attributed to poverty and HIV/AIDS to lives, however brief, that were respected and that had meaning.
A little girl of just 4 years old when she joined our program, Channa was able to live with her mother and her brother, as a family, for 12 years. Although her life’s journey was extremely difficult, in her younger years we know that she had some happy times and in her teen years she still managed to bring some comfort to the children she helped at the National Orphanage. Despite her hardships, she made a difference to others. Although there are limits to what our program can change, our program's help gave Channa and her family 12 years together. In the end, although our efforts could not save Channa’s life, her life was not without respect or meaning and she did not die alone and unattended.
The kind generosity of our donors makes it possible for us to try to bring comfort, support and meaning to the lives of fragile families facing the twin challenges of HIV/AIDS and extreme poverty and who are struggling at a level that is unthinkable for us. Each one of you, our donors, is the lifeline that makes this possible. And so we ask you to join us and to remember Channa.
Please accept our heartfelt thanks for your kindness.
Barbara & Mark
One of the ways Kasumisou Foundation works to maximize results in its programs is by looking at challenges and opportunities as two sides of one issue. The old idea of giving a hungry man a fish to feed him today but teaching him to fish feeds him for a lifetime is seen in how we manage and integrate our scarce resources.
Part of our mission for our AIDS Patient Family Support was to keep kids in school and enable them to have a chance to break the chain of inherited poverty. This summer we see results as another two students, each more than 10 years under the care and guidance of our AIDS Patient Family Support Program, are now ready to graduate from High School.Both will sit for the national high school exam in August and assuming that they pass, both will enter our Build Dreams! program that helps Cambodian students to be able to attend college and get vitally needed employment from our Jobs for Cambodian Youth project.
Ravin, age 18, has been under our care since age 4 and dreams of studying Chemistry and Food Science at University.
Vichet, age 20, has been under our care since 2002 and he comes from a resettlement area and was orphaned ( by AIDS) and lives with his Grandmother and an orphaned 11 year old niece.
All of this is possible because of a combination of taking a long term approach and the loyal support of you,our donors.
Thank you for your continued support of our efforts.
Our title starts with "On the edge" . Our report will give three examples of young people who are at a crossroads and who are " on the edge" of change.
Since 2000 our project has helped destitute moms with AIDS ( in Phnom Penh, Cambodia ) care for their kids through our AIDS Patient Family Support Program ( FSP). We have stepped in hundreds of times to provide modest housing and the social support that is essential to create a stable family lifestyle . We have rescued mothers and their children who are living rough on the streets , we have provided transitional housing to mothers snatched from death and returned to fragile but better health by the care of Sisters at a local AIDS hospice and we have stepped in to prevent families from becoming homeless.
But far beyond these essential services, our goal is to help children to stay in school and to help them see that there is a different life beyond the mean streets of the slums where they live. We want to give these kids the opportunity to break the cycle of inherited poverty. Key to that effort is the family support that we provide by actively monitoring the condition of each of our patient families through weekly or more frequent visits and providing additional support when needed.
We are so pleased that we have two students who are just finishing their high school studies and who will sit for the national high school examination in August. Both students have a dream of passing the exam and qualifying for entry in to college in the fall. Both have been in our FSP program and under our care for more than 10 years. Ravin, age 18, dreams of studying Chemistry and food science. Vichet, age 20, comes from Anlung Kgang settlement and wants initially to study English. If they pass their high school exams, both will become candidates for our college tuition program and Jobs for Cambodian Youth program.
Another young person in our program, age 14 , is facing an extremely serious and complex struggle. This young lady lives in a deteriorating family situation that may be on the edge of complete breakdown. Already quite fragile, the mother in this family has become extremely unstable mentally . It is not unusual for HIV/AIDS to cause dementia. We are unsure as to the precise cause of this mental illness, but it is taking a toll on 14 year Srey Maol. Never a strong student, she has fallen so far behind that she has dropped out of school and may likely not be able to return. A further concern is that she is exposed to a steady and frequent stream of new boyfriends by her mother’s sister. Srey Mao and her mother live with this aunt. Neither mother nor aunt value education and so we are gravely concerned. We trying to find effective measures to help stabilize the situation including the serious challenge presented by the mother's deteriorating mental health of finding an alternative to the current housing situation.
One temporary solution is to find activities to occupy Srey Mao during daytime hours. We have decided that a possible temporary replacement to school could be full day class participation at our Champey Academy of Arts. This would provide structure 6 days a week and help her build self esteem. It will also keep Srey Mao out of the house and give her a break from the constant stress of her mother’s illness and keep her away from her aunt’s boyfriends who are hanging around.
We are not sure we can “ win” this one, but we are trying hard to find solutions with the hope that bit by bit we can turn this situation around, or perhaps place this young girl on a different track of art, music or dance and exposure to stable adults.
Without your support, we would not have two newly graduating highschool students, and our young friend would be a just a tiny step away from a wasted life. Instead, we have two students with hopes of college, and young girl for whom we will try our best to keep moving forward to a better life.
Our heartfelt thanks to you all for your continued support of our efforts!
Barbara & Mark Rosasco