FSP in Action and Changing Lives
Mark returned this week from his quarterly trip to Cambodia where he met with almost all FSP program families and
conducted his standard line-item review of the AIDS Patient Family Support Program and other Kasumisou Foundation programs. The FSP continues without significant exception or change, maintaining a stable composition of 75 patient families and approximately 120 dependent children.
Its hard for us to explain to our supporters just how great it is to be able to report " no change". All of our patient families have already endured a great deal of individual and/or family trauma, so status condition reports of " no change" and " stable" are a welcome relief and change to patient families as the trauma that so often impacts the very poor can cause violent shifts in the flow of daily life.
In this quarterly report, we would like to share the story of one of "our" kids in the Family Support program to show you how the FSP, bit by bit, really can change young lives. For privacy, we will refer to our young lady as " Kay". Here is Kay's family history as best we can piece it together.
Kay is one of three children and she is from the outskirts of a "cross roads" town where two highways intersect in the countryside in the county of Kampong Cham. This town is about 2 1/2 hours away from Phnom Penh, the capital city, by car. Some years ago, Kay's mother and father both became extremely ill as a result of AIDS, causing them to lose everything and become extremely poor. At this time, with both parents gravely ill, and no means of support, Kay's mother gave away the older children. The location of those older children remains unknown. Kay's father died, leaving just Kay and her mother alone in the family and in desperate circumstances.
Kay's mother left Kampong Cham and , together with Kay, catching rides as best they could, traveled to Phnom Penh to try to seek medical treatment. Kay, now 14 years old, came to us 6 years ago when her mother, homeless and gravely ill from AIDS joined the FSP. Within a few months, Kay's mother died in the charity ward at the Russian Hospital in Phnom Penh, leaving Kay all but an orphan. We learned that Kay's grandmother, a widow who had lost her husband to a brutal death at the hands of the Khmer Rouge during the Civil War years, was still living in Kampong Cham. In recent years, Kay's grandmother had lived in extreme poverty, surving only on the kindness of neighbors.
We made arrangements for Kay to return to Kampong Cham to live with her grandmother. Extremely poor and with failing eyesight, Grandmother could not, on her own, afford to take care of or provide medical care for Kay.
Kasumisou Foundation's FSP stepped in and developed a practical low cost plan to enable this tiny family of grandmother and grand-daughter to stay together. A kindly neighbor in Kampong Cham allowed the FSP to build a house on their land: a tiny bamboo thatch house, with tin roof and dirt floor was built and became home. The house has a single room.
In the 6 years that Kay has been in the FSP, she has impressed us with her courage and ability. Kay, herself, has AIDS. Despite this, she has been the top student in her class for several years. Her current class in a government run school, is an 8th grade class which has 45 students. Kay is the top student in the class. Additionally, Kay studies English in a group class of 12 students (her class fee sponsored by Kasumisou Foundation) where she is also the top student. Over the years, Kay's grandmother's severe cataracts have made her nearly blind. Kay, at age 14, takes care of her 85 year old grandmother and keeps the household going in the little one room house. Kay is an honors student in school, top in her class, attends English class and she also works part time in a market stall to bring in money to the family. In frail health, Kay's grandmother will soon turn 86. Grandmother has requested that Kay become a ward of Kasumisou Foundation should the grandmother pass away.
The FSP brings Kay to Phnom Penh once per month by rural taxi ( $ 12) so that her illness ( AIDS) can be monitored and managed. To date, she has remained in good health and has bright hopes for the future. It is interesting to know that a rural taxi is nothing more than a flat trailer pulled by a motorcycle, or it might also be an opened pick up truck and once in a while an overcrowded van. The trip is about 2 1/2 hours each way.
The long term approach of " family support" by Kasumisou Foundation makes it possible for Kay to pursue her dream to become a teacher of Khmer ( Cambodian) literature and English.
We hope that this project report will give you a better idea of some of the many ways that the Kasumisou Foundation AIDS Patient Family Support Program ( FSP) works to help needy families in crisis and to help the children of those families work to break the cycle of inherited poverty.
We are deeply grateful to you all for your generous support.
Barbara & Mark Rosasco
Jacqueline Lee is an InTheField Traveler with GlobalGiving who is visiting our partners’ projects throughout Southeast Asia. Her “Postcard” from the visit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia:
My day began bright and early with Juana – the local staff of the Family Support Program for Kasumisou Foundation. On 20 January 2012, I would be visiting several families benefitting from Kasumisou’s Family Support Program (those affected by HIV).
The first family lived in a Buddhist Temple Pagoda. This family consisted of a young boy affected by HIV and his grandmother who took care of him after his mother passed away due to the virus. I asked her what her life was like before she was taken in by the Kasumisou Foundation – she had been a beggar. Homeless and penniless she took in her grandson after his mother passed and was desperate because he was dying. At a local church they were introduced to Juana and the Kasumisou Foundation, and they were given a small stipend to pay for rent, for food, and education for the young boy. The conditions were she had to stop begging. When I met this family I would have NEVER imagine what they had gone through. She was proud of her grandson’s studies, smiling, and welcoming. I asked what hope she had for her grandson in the future, and she said "for him to finish his studies and become a professional". He responded he hoped the same and loved working with electronics and electricity. His favorite subject was math. She now has a home, electricity, and with therapy the boy has lived to the age of 15. She sells snacks and candy to the local community.
The next home visit consisted of two young girls who lost their mother due to HIV, so were adopted by their mother’s friend. One wanted to be a doctor “to help (listing everyone in her adopted family, Juana, the Kasumisou staff, and sponsorship family who is paying for her education) for free of charge” and the younger one followed with wanting to be a nurse “to help all of Cambodia”. One loved to read and the other draw. Her favorite thing to draw was.. Angry Birds! I was astonished and had to see the drawings - they were amazing. I told them how kids in the US also loved Angry Birds, and at the end of the visit she gave me 2 of her prized drawings. They practiced their english with me, and showed me some of the dance and song they learned at the Apsara Arts program. These were two beautiful and educated young girls with hopes and dreams. I asked Juana what was the likelihood of them receiving education to become doctors, and she said the hope of Cambodia is for youth to graduate 6th grade, if possible 9th (14 years old), and if they are very talented and have the funding then 12th. It is very difficult to attain vocational or university training here. That did not stop these girls from reaching for the stars. I found out after that the eldest of the 2 girls also had HIV.
The final few families ingrained in me the strength of the human spirit. Sampao had been ostracized by her family when her husband died since she had HIV and separated from her children. She was on her deathbed when Kasumisou took her in and instead of accompanying her to die with dignity, Juana was able to “accompany her to life”. When she never expected to live now she travels with Juana home-visiting other families affected with HIV spreading experience and support. The next family was a mother and son both affected. All you could see was their joy and strength – she was able to work since she received therapy and he was a naturally gifted artist. The boy was self taught in drawing and painting with beautiful elaborate pictures of whatever he could get his hands on. The final family’s mother had been blinded by the disease and was supporting her 2 young boys. Kasumisou provided her the opportunity to not have to turn to brothels to make money, but supporting her children through school and allowing her to focus on them.
My overall impression was that this organization was well-run by a small number of local highly trained and skilled staff that work on the ground and report to the 2 founders. The founders visits every few months with not only staff but every project as a whole. It was wonderful to experience how those involved did not differentiate by age, race, or religion (some beneficiaries were Buddhist, some Christain, some attended all temples to receive support and "live long lives") – it was about providing lives with dignity and breaking the cycles of poverty for future Cambodian generations. Currently, they work with 70 families, 180 children within these families, 4 youth in university, and 3 receiving higher studies/vocational training. Hopefully, the rest of the children will have the opportunity to attain all of their hopes and dreams… and maybe even finish university.
For more details and pictures about my visit please visit: JacquelineInTheField
FSP Program Update Fall 2011
Our continued thanks to all of our supporters for making the AIDS Patients Family Support Program ( FSP) possible! 2011 has been an exciting year!
The FSP continues to support a group of 70-75 families comprised mainly of homeless mothers suffering from mid to late stage AIDS. Within this group we care for approximately 125-130 dependent children of whom about 20% themselves are afflicted with AIDS. We also provide permanent full support for 11 orphaned children whose parents passed away in our program some years ago.
In November,2011 Mark completed his quarterly visit to Cambodia to review the status of each family in the FSP and to conduct a line item budget review with our FSP program coordinator. The type of support given depends on the specific needs of each family, but regardless, the basic structure is that families receive housing support, a semi-monthly food allowance, basic medicines ( not antiviral) and transportation to medical appointments. When surgery re other major medical expenses are needed, we also cover that. We work to connect our families with various HIV/AIDS support programs so that their illness can be properly managed.
What’s new ?
We have committed to provide modest assistance to the children at the Phnom Penh municipal orphanage – The National Borey for Infants and Children. It is home to 120 orphaned or abandoned children, all of whom suffer from serious physical or emotional conditions. About 30% of the kids have AIDS while others have cerebral palsy, life threatening cancer or other serious problems including autism and severe birth defects.
From January 2012 we will fully fund the room where the most severely malnourished and handicapped kids live and which functions as sort of a basic intensive care room which will insure that these kids get at least a basic standard of care and nutrition regardless of the chronic unavailability of government funding.
The orphanage is grossly under funded and so we will also help out by offering enrichment classes on weekends for these shut in kids and occasional outings funding.
We cover school expenses for all dependent children grade 1 ~ 12 in our 75 FSP families. Our current school age enrollment for the FSP is 91 students and we are thrilled to say that we are also supporting 4 of our long time FSP kids in their first year in university studies ! This is so exciting for us, 4 kids, who despite incredible odds, have “ made it” to university.
Reaching this achievement is in large part a result of our continuing emphasis on education. Our FSP staff of 5 includes one accredited primary school teacher whose main responsibility is to monitor the progress of each student, help keep the student current on assignments and identify any student who may need extra help or who shows evidence of truancy.
Our school package of support for each student includes a “ school kit” of two uniforms, a pair of shoes, a monthly allowance for each student to pay his public school teacher the small daily required cash lesson fees without which progress in school is nearly impossible. FSP kids also have enough to eat- a key part of any educational effort.
Although the primary objective of the FSP is to preserve family unity and assist women with AIDS the means to survive and care for their children with dignity, our ongoing goal and dream is to help the children to break the cycle of inherited poverty.
It costs approximately $ 125 dollars per month per family when all direct and administrative costs are
We are deeply grateful for your continued support! Think of it- together we have not only assisted these families and kept them together as families, but our ability to provide long term assistance and oversight has enabled 4 students from the FSP to reach university. We have 2 other students who last year also entered university. Put differently, from our universe of about 135 children in our FSP related care, we now have 6 in university , their tuition of roughly $ 500 per year per student covered through dedicated donations by generous donors.
Together we can make a difference. Our deepest thanks to you all for your continued support of our efforts and our best wishes for a wonderful new year in 2012
Mark completed his quarterly trip to Cambodia in June 2011 where he reviewed all operational aspects of the IDS Patient Family Support Program. Although no significant exceptions were noted, FSP families continue to be impacted by the effects of high local inflation ( double digits ) , rising rents, rising fuel and food prices and costs of medical care. Our goal remains constant: to provide comprehensive compassionate care to mothers and children impacted by extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS , with resources directed toward keeping families together and helping children to break the cycle of inherited poverty.
Program highlights: 5 FSP students graduate from high school
Great news awaited Mark, where he learned that 5 FSP ( 4 girls, 1 boy) children had graduated from high school. Graduation form high school is a commendable achievement in Cambodia, which only a low percentage of students achieve. It is a remarkable achievement for these four FSP students, who come from backgrounds willed with significant impediments such as extreme poverty and the impact that HIV has had on their families, such as the loss of a parent, and the remaining parent suffering from HIV.
Two children, a brother and sister, are the only two surviving family members of a 5 member family. Both father and mother passed away while in the FSP, as did another sibling. These two children are original members of our FSP, and represent a wonderful example of how the longer term assistance of the FSP can help children break the cycle of inherited poverty.
The FSP currently supports the education of 88 children.
Our five high school graduates have dreams of continuing on to college, with annual tuition costs per student of under $1000 . However, as the average monthly budget for supporting an FSP family is currently $118 , a college tuition is currently beyond reach unless we can find additional funding resources for these four students. Dreams include studying law and nursing. Please contact us if you would like to support these efforts or know of financial resources.
Other news: Seisen International School, Tokyo Japan Student Volunteers
Seisen International School, Tokyo, Japan sent 17 high school students and 2 teachers to assist the FSP in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in June 2011 through 12 days of intensive volunteer activities.
Students were divided into two groups. One group of students volunteered at an AIDS Hospice and the second group of students volunteered at the Phnom Penh municipal orphanage. Student volunteers assisted caregivers by providing caring companionship to orphaned, frail and bed bound children through play, singing and individualized companionship and touch.
Some student volunteers initially fought back tears as they learned of the significant and permanent limitations of frail and bed-bound children. However, they immediately took on their challenges with good humor and great kindness and grace, putting forward maximum effort to make a positive impact.
Although children in these institutions receive care, staff members cannot take time to provide more individualized personal attention to young residents. For frail and bed bound children, simple touch and companionship, such as is achieved by simply sitting or rocking a child is a wonderful experience . Our student volunteers were a wonderfully welcome addition to the care team for these children.
Upcoming events:Wild Life Alliance Partners with Kasumisou Foundation
The Wild Life Alliance in partnership with Kasumisou Foundation’s FSP, has arranged for trips for two groups of children to visit a wild life rescue center run by Cambodia’s Ministry of Forestry. These two groups of children, 80 students from our FSP and 60 children from the Phnom Penh Municipal Orphanage, will take a bus trips on September 14 and 16 to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center, an area outside of Phnom Penh, to learn more about Cambodia’s endangered species and how they can help to protect them.
As always, we remain grateful for your continued support of our AIDS Patient Family Support Program. Together, truly, we make a difference.
May 2011 AIDS Patient Family Support Program Update
Please support GlobalGiving’s Recurring Donation Program and the FSP
Mark visited Cambodia in February 2011 where he met with our Home Care Coordinator and Team to review the status of each family in the FSP. All operational aspects of the FSP remain as described in the program description .The educational progress of the children was discussed along with other issues that need attention, such as the recent imposition of costs for previously fee medical services.
In December, Mark had learned of a significant development that will seriously impact the FSP families and program. Due to recent policy changes by Cambodia/s NPO medical providers, all patients, including the very poorest will now be required to pay fees for medical services which were previously free, such as blood tests and doctor visits. For families living on a razor’s edge of survival, an additional expenditure of $ 5 to $ 10 per month may create life threatening choices for patients. Unless the FSP provides additional funding, it is likely that previously stable patients may skip visits and medication leading to a decline in health and a possibility of developing drug resistant strains of HIV and TB.
For FSP families medicals fees will confront them with a choice of seeking the medical care essential to their continuing survival or of feeding their children.
Food and energy price inflation already threatens the stability of many families and their ability to maintain a level nutrition necessary for survival. At a time when our FSP budget is already gravely strained by a difficult fundraising environment, we must project a possible increase in the allocation to our FSP families of an additional $10,000 for 2011 to our current on site expenditure budget to pay these medical fees or face the simple fact that hungry poor families will choose food over medical care. At the present time we projected the 2011 FSP budget at $ 107,240 and have raised $49,000 from various donors leaving us with substantial funding needs for the second half of 2011.
We urge you to consider making a recurring donation to support our FSP. Just $ 27.50 will support one family for one week. Stable funding is essential for our continued effort to help the FSP families and to give the children in these families the opportunity to break the cycle of inherited poverty.
We are very grateful for your continued support of the AIDS Patient Family Support Program.
Barbara and Mark Rosasco
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