Update on AIDS Patient Family Support Program: Continuing the transition to independent living…
Mark is in Cambodia where he is engaged in a detailed review of our programs. His particular area of focus is our AIDS Patient Family Support Program ( FSP) , which helps indigent families and mothers impacted by extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS.
Returning to the heart of our initial mission statement for the FSP in 2000, our focus over the past year has turned to identifying those members of the FSP who are poorest and sickest and who have no means of support.
Over the years during which the FSP has been active, we have grateful that due to the continuing advancement and accessibility of medical treatment to victims of HIV/AIDS, the families in our FSP have been able to stay together longer. Rather than losing mothers and family members to AIDS in a few months, medical treatment and medication has allowed many of our families to experience an unprecedented long period of relative stability and some, while not well, have been able to remain in our care for several years.
We have been able to achieve our basic mission of assisting fragile families ( primarily single parent) to stay together and live an extremely modest lifestyle. Additionally, our effort and focus on keeping dependent children in school has paid off. We not only can claim a significant number of high school graduates among the children who have been members of our FSP over the years, but also several college students and recently 2 college graduates.
Over the past year, we have actively worked to assess which families should be capable, in the short term, of a transition to independence or a transition toward receiving the support of their own extended families. We have identified a number of families who fit in these categories. Dependent children have now grown up and completed school, and in some instances, are able to earn enough to support the family. In recent years, the Cambodian economy has continued to recover from the devastation of a civil war now decades past. The economy has added factory and other jobs and shows some signs of continued prospects for growth. We feel that this improved economy should allow relatives to step forward now and assume responsibility or provide assistance to some members of our FSP. Now as we approach the end of 2013, we are actively working to put an action plan in place to move toward this goal.
In recent days, Cambodia has unexpectedly experienced significant civil unrest due to a contested national election. This may spill over into areas such as personal safety which could impact tourism and industry and impact donor sentiment. Stability has and will be a key factor aiding or impeding our efforts.
Mark will return to the US on October 3. After that time we should be able to provide additional updates.
Our sincere thanks to our donors for their generous support.
Inside the FSP: Transitioning to independent living
Mark left for Cambodia on June 23 , where he will spend 10 days reviewing our programs, including the AIDS Patient Family Support Program ( FSP) , which helps indigent families impacted by extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS.
From the beginning of our FSP in 2000, the FSP has had a long term approach to keep families together , to prevent trafficking and to keep kids in school . One of the biggest challenges for the FSP is to offer the assistance needed to sustain families while encouraging self sufficiency. Over the past 3months, we have continued our exhaustive and careful review of each family’s current status and stability as well as their potential for possible financial independence . During that time we identified 8 families who over the past 6 to 12 months are gradually being phased out of our care, leaving us with a core of about 65 families remaining in the FSP at the present time. We are please to say that most of those families have now begun their transition towards more independent living. Much of this is possible because of our long focus on education as an economic enabler for children. The children of our target families in this transition are now launched into a stable , lower middle class life which means that they are now in a position to provide family support for their mothers.
Periodic assessments such as these are an essential and vital part of the FSP. They free up scarce resources and it honors our commitment to our donors that we will be certain that funds are used, to the best of our abilities.
Mark reviews the status of each family every quarter. Structure and discipline are applied with large amounts of understanding, accommodation and compassion.
We are grateful for your support and it is our honor to have our efforts supported by you. We are so pleased with the continuing progress of our families .
Barbara & Mark Rosasco
Inside the FSP: The Important Role of Reviews and Assessments
Mark arrived home from his recent quarterly trip to Cambodia on March 13, where he had spent a week reviewing our programs, including the AIDS Patient Family Support Program ( FSP) , which helps indigent families impacted by extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS.
From the beginning of our FSP in 2000, we have taken a long term approach to keep families together , to prevent trafficking and to keep kids in school to help to break the cycle of inherited poverty. Over the past 18 months, we have conducted an extensive and careful review of each family’s current status, stability and potential for financial independence outside our program. During that time we identified 8 families who over the past 6 to 12 months are gradually being phased out of our care.
Several families are headed by single mothers with AIDS who are now be in a position to resume independent living. These are mothers who have benefited from our support for as long 10 years and who now have raised, educated and proudly launched their children into a stable lower middle class life. Their children, now grown, are in a position to care for and support their mothers. For a few others, we felt that they should be gently moved out of our programs assistance arena over time for specific reasons. For example, one family was asked to leave due to a serious violation of our rules, by seeking support from two organizations at the same time without permission from either , or put differently, “ double dipping” . Another is a mother who was removed from our program because she ran away after stealing money from her neighbors.
We view these periodic long term assessments as a vital and natural part of the FSP. They free up scarce resources and it honors our commitment to our donors that we will carefully monitor all expenditures to be certain that funds are used, to the best of our abilities, optimally and ethically.
One of our mothers recently passed away quite unexpectedly, leaving a 12 year old daughter who was temporarily cared for by other members of the FSP while our home care coordinator worked extremely hard to find a placement in a reliable institution. We will continue to monitor her situation . One of our great successes is that our Home Care Team has worked hard from the very beginning to foster a community attitude among our families sharing scarce resources, emotional support as well as help and friendship.
Mark reviews the status of each family every quarter and any decisions that are made are implemented carefully so as not to undo what may be years of slow progress. Structure and discipline are applied with large amounts of understanding, accommodation and compassion.
We hope that this progress report has given you some insights into the operation and challenges that we face. We are grateful for your support and it is our honor to have our efforts supported by you. We could not do this without you!
Personal Stories from the FSP
As we look forward to the New Yeaer, it is good to look back at how we have spent our time and whether we have achieved our goals. One of our goals this past year has been to keep you, our supporters, better informed about the impact that your support makes.
Each of our FSP patient families faces unique challenges, which for most us, are not survivable. But somehow, these fragile families manage to continue one, one step at a time. Our FSP provides food, housing and social support. We are the family to these families, coping withimmediate challenges, yet working toward the longer term solutions. Sometimes the changes which we strive so hard to make, are so slow in coming that we can recognize it only in hindsight. For example, by stressing education as a core value over the years, we now have 19 FSP kids in high school. Sometimes, sadly, despite our efforts, we fail as you will read below about Daria.
We hope that sharing these personal stories will you to fully understand the impact of your support and the challenges of our task. The names have been changed for reasons of privacy.
Our deepest thanks to you all for your generous support! Your support has changed and saved many lives.
Our best wishes to you all for 2013.
Barbara & Mark Rosasco
Personal Stories from the FSP 2012
Randy ( male, age 20): Randy's mother, an FSP patient, died from AIDS about 10 years ago . Randy suffers from serious mental retardation and he has never recovered from losing his mother. He now spends his days helping his 80+ year old grandmother sell vegetables in a market stall in Phnom Penh. His 17 year old sister attends school with FSP support. Our FSP continues to help this family with food and pay rent and the education expenses of the girl. Our goal is that the girl can acquire enough education or job skills to support and care for her older brother and her aged grandmother in the future. It has been a long slow process, but without FSP support these children would have almost certainly been trafficked. Instead, we are on the edge of this fragile family achieving financial independence within the next few years.
Mike lost his brother to AIDS about ten years ago. At that time our FSP supported Mike, his brother ( the breadwinner) , their aged mother and Mike’s four children, in total, 7 people. Mike’s wife had abandoned the children to live with another man in their neighborhood. Although Mike does not have AIDS, he is mentally unstable and suffers from severe alcoholism and is often unable to care for the family. The FSP has carefully monitored the condition of Mike’s children over the years and they are all fine students. Despite the family’s poverty, Mike’s frequent mental breakdowns, his constant fight with alcoholism and the emotional scars left by their mother’s abandonment, Mike’s children have managed to survive and stay together. This fragile family and its children have been kept together because of the support of the FSP, preventing the children from a tragic life of abuse and trafficking. Instead, they are good students, in a family life and a hope for a brighter future.
Daria is a 17 year old girl. About ten years ago, Daria lived on a sidewalk in Central Phnom Penh along with her brother, their AIDS afflicted mother and their aged grandmother. We took the family into the FSP. Daria’s mother died from AIDS several years ago and since then they have relied on their grandmother and the support of our FSP. Daria’s brother is now about 20 years old and he is in grade 6 at school. Despite his very limited mental ability, the boy loves school and tries his best. He has rejected suggestions to change to a job training course. Unfortunately, Daria is a sweet girl but an indifferent student and sometimes quite careless. She doesn’t have the determination of her older brother. Recently Daria’s carelessness in missing an arranged job opportunity to provide badly needed income for the family, earned her some criticism from her brother and grandmother as well as from our program staff. To our greaty distress, Daria has now run away from home to escape any further criticism. She is now somewhere on the streets of Phnom Penh and our team is searching for her. We hope that our team or her family will find her or she will decide to come home. Phnom Penh is a dangerous place for an innocent teen and we fear for her safety . We do not want Daria to meet the tragic fate of trafficking and enslavement which awaits so many teen age runaways and orphans on the streets of Cambodia’s capital.
Your support DOES make a difference!
We are often asked how we know can tell if our programs really make a difference. Sometimes it seems that the changes are so slow as to be almost invisible.
Bit by bit, week by week, child by child, we help fragile families in our AIDS Patient Family Support Program stay together, insure that they have enough to eat, have access to medical care, and that the children are safe to survive and thrive. And, we keep the kids in school. The progress is agonizingly slow, but the wait is worth it! The combined success of these efforts goes far beyond simple survival.
This year, 2012 , we saw 5 students in our Aids Patient Family Support Program graduate from High School and enter college .We were fortunate to find sponsors for that first year's tuition. In 2013 we have 6 more students on track to graduate from High School. We have another 13 now in grades 9 through 11. This is an amazing result from a group of just 90 school age in the FSP program. We have another 4 students in a rural project in Prey Veng Province who have also just graduated from High School.
Let's put it in context: Many of the moms in our FSP program are illiterate and they do not understand the importance of education. This is where we come in. We get it! We know that just 27% of kids in Cambodia graduate from high school and only 40% of students finish middle school, so getting through grade 12 is a big accomplishment ! We have emphasized education from the beginning and now it is really beginning to show results. Yes! We are so proud of our kids! From " throw away, homeless slum kid" to high school graduate! Now onward to college student!
The academic success of our FSP students has all been made possible by the generous contributions of you, our supporters.
Now, we face a new challenge ahead: funding college . Truthfully, we never planned for it. It was not on our horizon. Yes, we thought that perhaps one or two kids might make it, but 15??
We will need to find 2013 funding for our 5 current college students , plus college funding for 6 more new high school graduates in 2013 . We also have 4 students from our Rural Assistance program ( wish serves the rural poor) who are also dreaming of attending college. From modest rural families, two new High School graduates are working construction for $ 3.00 a day to support themselves. College dreams will be lost unless we can raise funding for these and our other high school graduates.
Though costs are low - about $ 500-$800 per year for tuition and books per student and room and board for some, it adds up to a total of 15 college students in all in 2013!
We have just posted a new project # 12004 , Build Dreams! Send Cambodian Students to College which will become an ongoing program to help our high school graduates and students realize their dreams and go on to college.
What a journey: from homeless and poor in an FSP family to college student. Together, we can accomplish such amazing things and this is a wonderful example!
Thank you for making this possible for our kids! They are your kids too. Your support has gotten them this far. Let's take them the rest of the way!
PS. Please check with your company to see if they will match any or part of your 2012 donations.
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