Project update: Meet our students !
Our apology for the delay in providing these detailed updates on our students. As you will read below, collecting the information for each student is both a joy and a challenge. We hope that you will share our pride in the accomplishments of the students in our higher education program.
Over the past year, our college program has grown from the original 6 students . The transition form high school to college is a challenging one in any culture, and this has proven to be true with our program. From 15 original candidates, over the past year some of our students were not able to successfully make that transition, leaving us with a current core of 11 college students , all but one now aged 18-23
Eight of our students are from rural Prey Veng Province . These have successfully made the transition from a close knit rural life style in a thatched house with no electricity or running water to life in the capital city, Phnom Penh, despite many challenges and temptations.
All of the original 6 students from Prey Veng Province have been able to advance into their second year. We have added two more students from Prey Veng, for a total of 8 . Of these 8 students, four of the students are able to attend college in Phnom Penh because of our additional support to them of housing, board and part time employment. Three of our college students came from our AIDS Patient Family Support Program.
One of our students , is age 24 and a Buddhist monk.
In addition to these 11 we also support one high school student age 16 with room, board, tuition and part time employment . Beyond these students, we support the education of the children in our AIDS Patient Family Support Program.
All of this is possible because of you, our generous donors. Thank you. Together, we are changing the world, one life at a time.
Our current roster of college students:
1. Dararith (male) age 24, is studying law at Build Bright University in Phnom Penh and will be entering his third year this fall. Dararith came to our college program via our Aids Patient Family support Program in 2000. Three years ago, Dararith became a Buddhist monk to honor his deceased parents. In addition to his duties as a Buddhist monk, Dararith took time to instruct his follow monks in English and mathematics at the pagoda where he lives.
2. Thierry ( female) age 20 studies psychology at the Royal University of Phnom Penh ( RUPP) . She is in her third year studying to become a psychologist. Thierry came to us via our Aids Patient Family Support Program and in addition to her studies worked for some time as a volunteer in our program for severely disable children at the city orphanage.
3. Srey Poch ( female) age 19 is studying Banking and finance at the Royal University of Law and Economics ( RULE) and hopes to become a banker after graduation. Srey Poch came to us via our AIDS Patient Family Support Program which had supported her family from 2002. She is an excellent student and throughout elementary school , middle school and high school ranked near the top of her class .
4. Serey ( male) age 21 is an “A” student, also studying Banking and Finance for a Bachelor’s Degree at Human Resouces University . Now in year 2, he will spend 2 more years until graduation. After graduation, he wants to pursue a career in banking or as a business owner. Serey comes from a family of peasant farmers, neither his mother or father have any formal education. He has 5 siblings. Serey works as an assistant dance teacher and also performs maintenance tasks at Champey academy. Serey acquired his knowledge of traditional Cambodian dance through our dance program the district high school .
5. Laiy ( female) age 20 studies nursing at the Royal Scientific Institute of Health ( RSIC) which is located in the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Now in year 2, with one more to go, after graduation Laiy will work as a mid wife at the Center of Health in Phnom Penh. Laiy was an exceptional student in high school. Her mother had a 4th grade education , her father an 11th grade education, which was unusual for a farmer.
6. Youu, ( male) 23 is a strong “B” student, studying Banking and Finance for a Bachelor’s Degree at Human Resources University . Now in year 2, Youu will spend 2 more years at university. After graduation he wants to work in banking. In addition to his studies, Youu helps at the Champey Academy ( our dance program) as a junior t dance instructor and assists with maintenance . You’s father died when he was born and Youu’s mother has a 5th grade education He frequently travels home to Prey Veng province to help his mother tend their small farm.
7. Sdoeurn ( female) age 22 studies at accounting at Vanda Institute in Phnom Penh. Now in her second year, she has a career objective of becoming an accountant in a bank. Sdoeurn works part time at our dance school . Sdoeurn showed unusual initiative, borrowing money from a micro lending institution to finance her first semester of college in 2012 before entering our program. One of 8 children, Sdoerun shows great promise.
8. Ty ( female ) age 19 is a first year student at the National Institute of Business ( NIB) studying Banking and finance and English. Now in year 1, she will complete her studies in 3 years and hopes to work for a bank.
9. Sokha (male ) age 23 is a student at Human Resources University studying Banking and Finance. Now in his second year, he needs 3 more years to complete his degree. Sokha, was a member of our traditional arts troupe at Baphnom High School where he was recognized as a very talented musician. He was also a member of our Prey Veng Green Champions program. Sokha’s parents are peasant farmers , his mother reached grade 5 and his father has no formal education. Sokha is undecided yet on a career, but has thoughts of becoming a teacher. Sokha plays the “ roncat”, which is a zylaphone type Cambodian traditional instrument . We support Sokya with room, board and a small stipend as a musician accompanying our dance students and by doing odd jobs at the school as needed.
10. Dana (female) age 19 is a student at the Human Resources University in Phnom Penh where she studies English Literature. Her current course of studies is a means to a bigger dream, which is to enter medical student. Her dream , since early childhood is to become a doctor and English is but the first step. We support Dana at the Dance School where she works at Guest Relations, greeting foreign tourists and explaining the school’s program . We also support Dana with room, board and a small stipend. Dana’s parents are peasant farmers, her mother has a 3rd grade education, her father no formal education. Among her accomplishments in high school was her work as a translator for a group fo American dentists who visit annually to provide free dental care for local children. Dana is one of the most gifted and talented students, who has consistently distinguished herself in a high school of 2500 students, despite coming from a family of the most modest means, she has managed to excel as a student, help others and continue in her singular goal to qualify to enter medical school.
11. Saorith ( female) age 20 studies at the Royal University of Agriculture where she is pursuing a degree in Agricultural Science. Now in year 1, she will need 3 more years to complete her studies. After graduation she wants to work with farmers to develop the community through more modern farming techniques. Saorith received an award for the best grades at Baphnom High School for the 2010/2011 school year, ranking as the # 1 student out of a 2,500 student body. Saorith’s mother is a farmer and her father a retired NGO worker. She is the youngest of 8 children. Like Dana, Saorith was single minded in her pursuit of education, each of them riding their bikes to school , covering a total distance of 40 KM ( 24 miles) each day to attend high school.
Celebrating One Year Anniversary at Champey!
It has been a busy year as Champey Arts celebrated its first anniversary in January 2014. Bit by bit, the program has expanded from its original form as a summer arts camp program for disadvantaged children. Its newly expanded course offerings include not only dance, but traditional Cambodian ( Khmer) music and arts. We are proud to celebrate the accomplishments of a largely “ home grown” Kasumisou team. Our staff now numbers 3 dance instructors, all of whom were long time students and graduates from our former Apsara Arts program. Our senior art teacher, Ms. Dong Saree has been teaching children in various Kasumisou Foundation programs traditional Cambodian art since 1999. In addition to her work at Champey Arts , Dong Saree teaches traditional arts at the prestigious Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh. She is capably assisted by Khun Sotha, a graduate of Kasumisou Foundation’s original art school at the Reyum Gallery in Phnom Penh. Finally, our program is rounded out by classical Khmer music instruction by Don, himself a classical music student at the Royal University of Fine Arts.
In addition to our teachers, we have four of our own university students from Prey Veng Province, who are working part time in various assistive jobs at the school while they attend university classes, three of whom board at the school.
Now that the recent civil unrest has quieted down, we are seeing about 50 to 60 students per day, spread over two sessions, one morning, the other afternoon, each spanning 3 hours. Some of our students are really inspired by the opportunity to dance. We have two students, teenagers, who bike nearly every day a distance of more than 5 miles from the National Orphanage to attend the afternoon session from 2:00 to 5:00 pm. Their typical day is school in the morning, then back to the orphanage at lunch (they live there as their moms are employees who work rotating 48 hours on/off shifts) . After lunch they attend after school supplemental classes and then it’s time to bike over to Champey. In recognition of their strong motivation ( they rarely miss a dance class) and acknowledging their limited family budget, we help by providing an outside class stipend of $ 25 per month.
We will soon be planning the session for the school break and continue in our efforts to bring traditional dance, music and art to children.
Your support of our efforts gives us the opportunity create a sense of pride of culture in these students by exposing them to Cambodia’s rich cultural heritage.
Thank you !
Barbara & Mark Rosasco
Update on AIDS Patient Family Support Program: What’s new in 2014
As we mentioned in previous updates , we have been working for more than one year to reduce our patient family load significantly. Our reasons were two fold: not only were we aware that some families’ living situations allowed for a decrease in assistance, freeing scarce resources for other participants, but also a reaction to the continuation of serious escalation in costs in our program of necessities . Off setting reduced numbers of patient families has been the significant upward trend of housing and food costs. Rents are going up with increases of 25% to 50% not uncommon for the extremely modest single room and tiny flats we provide. Food prices also continue to rise , with an approximate average increase in costs of 25% to 30% over the past year.
At the current time, our FSP census lists 38 families with 42 children of which 36 are in school and 6 are not yet of school age. Costs of the school kits that we provide to the children have risen by approximately 20% over the past year ( books, uniform, shoes). Of the children in school, 6 are HIV positive. We are so proud to be able to tell our donors that that three of our FSP families now have children in college!
Additional challenges are the simple fact that many of the children are now older, and as is the case universally, pre-teens and teenagers require a much greater degree of supervision and monitoring to keep them safe and on track at this critical time. Our focus on keeping dependent children in school remains as a key goal for 2014.
Medical treatment and medication now broadly available has allowed many of our families to continue to maintain an extended period of relative stability allowing children to grow up in a family setting. We feel that we have been successful in achieving our basic mission of assisting fragile families ( primarily single parent) to stay together . Cambodia’s recent civil unrest been quelled by a government response making the protests illegal
Lee Bopha , our new home care coordinator has capably stepped in to her new responsibilities. Bopha, a Cambodian and trained teacher in her mid-20’s , hae worked closely for several years with Juana Encolada, our longtime and beloved home care coordinator who returned to the Maryknoll order at the end of 2013.
We are grateful that our program is able to continue on to help the children in these families strive to break the cycle of inherited poverty.
As always , we are deeply grateful to you, our generous donors for your wonderful support.