Kasumisou Foundation

To assist the poorest of the poor by providing essential living support to families and children impacted by extreme poverty and/or HIV-AIDS in Cambodia.
Sep 7, 2016

Planting the seeds....

Planting
Planting

I can't think of a better title for this project report than " planting the seeds".

Planting is a word rich with many meanings.   I love that our student demonstration of this foundation movement of Cambodian dance, teaches us  the  visual word , "  planting "   . It is a word  in a visually expressed "language" that tells a story that is a common thread  of every  civilization: planting new crops, sustaining life, creating new beginnings.

For our students especially, Champey Academy and the opportunities it offers our students,makes  the theme of "planting" and  new beginnings particularly appropriate. Champey Academy opens up the  world of art, music and dance to students and  is all about new beginnings, a new awakenings as students discover the vast talents that exist within themselves.  Champey plants the seeds of a new beginning for each of our students.

Mark is in Cambodia right now  and spending time at Champey where our  Champey students continue to amaze us with their creativity, their excellence  and their strong work ethic. This time of year, during school vacation,  Champey is  a  very  busy  place  as it also  serves as an " overflow" community center  for local students and children in the community as they come to participate in classes offered twice each day, teaching them about their rich cultural heritage of art, painting , music and dance, many of them, introduced to this world  for the first time.

Link 1 below:

Our  senior and middle students  have been working hard to help us better showcase  their talents and skills . This update will   introduce you to our new slide show which shows several of the  core hand movements that are essential in Cambodia dance to tell traditional stories.  See our video below and learn about the hand movements that are the foundation of Cambodian classical dance.

Link 2 below:

On Sunday, April 3, Champey's dance students performed in a recital at Phnom Penh's  well known  Chaktomuk theater. The program that day included performances by arts groups from around Phnom Penh.  The Champey students performed an original, nature themed piece choreographed by our teacher, Mr. Hang Sela.  Their performance earned them rave reviews and helped to raise Champey Academy's profile in the Phnom Penh arts community.  Click on the link below to view a brief video from their performance.

Link 3 below:

Our students present Lesson I in Classical Cambodian Dance along with an English narration.

More news:

As the reputation of Champey and its students  grows , our students have recently been performing for groups of hotel tourists who have visited Champey. Our team of student " greeters" have been practicing their English language skills to the degree that they are now able to give a brief introduction and explanation about some of the basics of traditional Cambodian dance which is what has led to the video you  can see in Link 3.

We are so grateful to our  donors who have generously  supported Champey and whose kind donations  make these wonderful programs possible over a period of many years.  Your support has and continues to make a real difference in the lives of our students,  our student apprentice teachers and our adult  teachers.  We hope that you will continue to support our Champey students on this terrific artistic voyage  upon which they  have embarked.

Mark will return to the US on September 13, so please stay tuned for a more updates and new photos.

 

Thank you,

Barbara Rosasco

Champey performs at Chaktomuk Theatre
Champey performs at Chaktomuk Theatre
Lesson 1~ Classical Cambodian Dance
Lesson 1~ Classical Cambodian Dance

Links:

Sep 7, 2016

Helping our moms with " back to school"

 

The name of our project on GlobalGiving is titled "Help Destitute Moms with AIDS care for their kids". Speaking as a mom,myseslf,  there are  few things that are more important than trying to help our kids get the education that will prepare them for a better world. For the moms in our program, this effort is particularly important as education can help their children break the cycle of inherited poverty.

The new school year will soon start in Cambodia. In preparation for each new year students are expected to turn up for the new school year prepared and adequately equipped.

In Cambodia, public school students are required to have a uniform, book bag and certain supplies. This seemingly easy goal for a middle class family is quite different for families similar to ours, whose tight budget would typically be  used almost entirely for food and shelter, with little left over for education.

Because of this, a key part of our program to help the disadvantaged  moms in our program, already impacted by AIDS,   is to be certain that all of the students that are in our AIDS Patient Family Support Program, have the proper gear to begin school and real access to education. Costs  for uniforms and supplies range from $25 to $35 per student, depending upon the grade level.

Typically, this means that a student will have

  • two uniforms, comprised of skirt or trousers and shirts
  • a book bag
  • pencils, notebooks and any other supplies required
  • footwear

In Cambodia, the average education level  achieved is just 6th grade, and we are so proud that the children our program are staying in school long past that.

Beyond the school “ kit” we provide, we also pay the extra weekly “ teacher fees”, a need that reflects the  reality of  underpaid public school teachers. If students can’t pay these fees, they are often ignored, ridiculed or even given failing grades by the teacher, so these fees are essential. Depending upon grade level, fees can be a much as $ 30 per month per student, or $ 300 per year, putting education costs for public education to about $ 325 per student per year.

Early in our efforts to help our students, we saw that some of our kids failed a grade and needed to repeat that grade. Some students, due to stresses in the family and other factors, had failed grades multiple times and were much older than other students just entering that grade. The shame of failure often caused students, even elementary students, to drop out of school. In recognition of this, we will also provide additional tutoring to try to keep children up to grade level and in school and early intervention is vitally important to this effort.

The chart below gives you an idea of the grading system for Cambodian students and as you can see, a failing grade really means that the student would have had a grade of under 50.

Our students have tried and thrived in school and we are proud to count  our many middle school and high school graduates because of our focus on education in this program. One important outcome of this long term focus on education is that our graduates are getting better jobs after they leave school and are able to help support their families. Step by step, our efforts to educate the children in our AIDS Patient Family Support Program have enabled many of these students to break the cycle of inherited poverty and move gradually forward into Cambodia’s emerging middle class.

Our deepest thanks to all of our generous donors who have made this transformation possible.

Mark is in Cambodia this week and will be returning to the US  on Sept 13  with an update, so please watch for our next post and program update.

Barbara & Mark

 

Grading standards

Percentage      Grade      Standard

 85-100              A            Excellent

 79-84                B            Very Good

70-78                 C            Good

65-69                 D            Fairly poor

50-64                 E            Fair

< 50                   F            Fail

Aug 22, 2016

Changing lives with the gift of water

We never know the worth of water till the well is dry. ~Thomas Fuller M.D ,  1732

 

Change a life by giving the gift of water.

Most of us in the developed world have never known the hardship of lack of water. Some people may have experienced temporary interruption from a storm.  Some folks  have gone camping and  adapted to a sharply  limited, but temporary access to water. However, we  usually  do not stop to consider our great  privilege as we turn on the tap and,of course,  expect to get water.

I love the quote by Thomas Fuller, who in  the 1700's , pointed out the obvious . We do not  appreciate the real value of   water until we have none.

Why our Rural Assistance Program began

Our Rural Assistance Program, (RAP ) rose from this concept in 1998, when we encountered farming families in  northeasten Cambodia ( Prey Veng Province)  who had  experienced profound  suffering   from a prolonged drought.

Dire circumstances

According to UNICEF in Thailand,  a crop failure from lack of rain occurs one of every 3 years in Southeast Asia. When faced with a failing rainy season, single crop rice farmers  and their families  become desperate.  

In a normal rainy season, the rain water is captured in large clay jars,  about 4 to  5  feet tall and about 3 feet in diameter , placed  at each  corner of the roof. The stored rain water is used in the dry season  for drinking, cooking and limited bathing. While it is difficult to generalize how much rainwater is collected, a 2001  article by UNICEF in Thailand estimated that an 11 cubic meter jar, if full, could provide enough just  drinking and cooking water for a family of 5 for one year. Without  stored rain water, families are forced to go to desperate means to get water.  This can mean pulling even small  children out of school to use them  as labors to carry water, sometimes from great distances and sending older children and parents to the cities to search for work.

The knock on effect: No rain, no drinking water, no food

When the rice crops fail because  the rains don’t come, it  means that there will be no food for the coming year. This  forces single crop rice  farmers and all able bodied teens and adults to head for the  cities, usually, Phnom Penh the capital,  in hopes of finding work of any kind.

Illiterate and without resources, these workers are typically  exploited and paid as little as   $ 1 to $3 per day for hard labor  and sometimes  dangerous work in construction. Women and girls  often turn to prostitution as a way to earn money. The migrant workers  eventually return to their villages weeks or months later , sometimes, unknowingly bringing HIV to their villages.

Our solution

Our solution was to  drill wells where appropriate, as  a cost effective way to bring a reliable, safe source of water to these families and allow them to live a more secure life, focusing their efforts on more diversified farming  and educating their children.

Elementary and Middle School students  sponsor 4 wells   to change  lives

A well costs just $ 270.

As parents, we often talk about how to help our kids, in the developed world, to  understand  and appreciate the challenges of others less fortunate.  

Talk about personal empowerment and understanding!  The American School in Tokyo Japan,  Elementary School students sponsored 2 wells  and   the Middle School students also sponsored 2 wells .  The ASIJ  students raised money throughout the school year to fund the wells from various activities including sales of Friendship bracelets* at their Winter Festival and other events.These students , by working to sponsor the four wells, have dramatifcally changed the lives of these four families and their neighbors.

You can change a life by giving the gift of water!

These wells are life changing for a farming family.  Access to a  well  provides

  • a safe, reliable source of water for drinking, cooking and bathing
  • water for vegetable gardens
  • a way to reduce food and income dependence on a single annual rice crop.
  • access to water helps to keep families together and kids in school by reducing forced economic migration

Over the past 15 years and more than 500 wells later, we estimate that each well serves several additional families.

With 8 wells sponsored, we are actively seeking donations to pay for the remaining 22 wells we drilled  so that we can  continue to offer this life changing project to other families.

We are deeply grateful to you, our donors for your generous support to helping to  transform lives by providing access to water.

 

Barbara & Mark Rosasco

 

*The Friendship bracelets are a small income project for  teenage girls cared for in a group home run by Catholic nuns  in Bangkok, Thailand. These girls make the friendship bracelets as a way to earn pocket money.

 
   

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