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.
Dec 6, 2016

A rescued life or a masterpiece in progress?

Part of the team....
Part of the team....

In the early days of our program in the early 2000s, many of our efforts were focused upon urgent, last resort, compassionate care for the women and mothers in our program. As the program evolved, more of our program participants were moms with children. Thankfully, as antiretroviral medications became readily available and affordable, our program evolved still further, focused upon assisting moms with AIDS. AIDS had evolved from an 18 month to 2 year death sentence from diagnosis, to a serious chronic illness that in many cases was “ manageable”.

Despite the evolution of our program participants, our core values for the program remained the same

  • keep fragile families together
  • protect the family from homelessness
  • protect the children from trafficking
  • provide basic housing, food and community support
  • and keep children in school.

Our long term goal was to break the cycle of inherited poverty by giving the kids in our patient families a real chance at improved economic prospects through education. The journey to success via this last goal has been tortuously slow, in some cases, spanning more than a decade of slow, steady support. In short, we function as the “ family” for our patient families. But, boy, can we show results from our efforts !

The story of S: A rescued life or a “masterpiece” in progress?

In 2001, when S. and her sister first joined our AIDS Patients Family Support Program, S was just 4 years old and her sister had just passed her second birthday. Their mother was dying from AIDS and S., herself, was HIV positive, having contracted the virus at birth. These three fragile souls, themselves, had been homeless for a while but at the time we met them, they were sharing a single room with the mom’s childhood friend, who, though herself quite poor, had taken them into her tiny home because they simply had no where else to turn. The situation was dire: a dying mom with AIDS and two toddlers, age 2 and 4.

S’s family became one of our patient families. Less than 2 years after joining our program, her mom died in a hospice outside of Phnom Penh, leaving S, age 6 and her sister, age 4, in the care of the lifelong friend with whom they had been living.

Today, years after entering our program, we continue to support this fragile family. The girls live in that same room with their mother’s friend, whom over the years, they came to love and know as their “ new” mom. The friend discovered some years ago that she, too, is HIV positive and, despite failing eyesight, she somehow manages to earn a little income by sewing stuffed toys and other simple craft items for which she get’s paid on a piecework by a local NGO in Phnom Penh.

Our Program’s support and financial assistance have empowered these tiny orphaned girls to grow and blossom into confident, charming and accomplished young ladies. Among other skills, both girls have become confident English speakers with the help of many years of outside English language instruction sponsored and paid for by our Family Support Program. Both girls are still in school – S. is now in grade 12 and her sister is in grade 10 at a public high school near their home in central Phnom Penh. Both of the girls work and study half days at our Champey Academy of Arts. Despite her love of dance, S. was moved to the drawing and painting class after suffering several fainting spells on the dance stage. Her younger sister continues to study dance and she has developed into a fine dancer and has many times been included in our Champey ‘traveling team’ which performs at events and competitions outside of Champey.

In addition to studying drawing, S. also works as a member of our Champey “welcome team” – greeting tourists who visit our school, explaining our program of arts instruction to them and teaching them something about Cambodian traditional arts. Both girls receive a modest salary for their work at Champey and that money helps to supplement the earnings of their ‘mother’ and the monthly support payments which the family receives from our FSP.

 What the future holds...

As a 12th grade student, S. is naturally thinking a lot about what she will do next year after she has completed high school but first she needs to pass the rigorous national examination required of all students before they can receive their high school diplomas. After that, S. thinks she might like to work in tourism, perhaps as a guide, but, depending on our available resources, both the management of Champey and our FSP field staff hope to see this very talented and confident young woman enrolled in university next year.

We are so proud of both girls, who despite formidable obstacles, continue to lead lives of quiet dignity and excellence, undaunted by the formidable challenges that have been ever present in their lives.

Because of you...

Your long term and steady support has allowed us to “ rescue” and then support these young girls. Their own fine characters and hard work combine to allow us to claim at least a little bit of credit for their remarkable accomplishments as they continue their paths  forward toward a better future

We are deeply grateful to you all for your support, for surely it has been a group effort , now spanning 15 years and I know that we all agree, the results have been worth the time and effort.

The average cost of basic support for one of our program families is about $ 140 per month plus additional costs of education, tutoring, etc. as appropriate.

Sadly, we cannot change the world. But, as you can see, we could change the world for these two young girls.

With our heartfelt thanks,

Barbara & Mark Rosasco

Nov 28, 2016

A key to the success of Champey Academy Programs

Performing for Women
Performing for Women's Int'l Group Guests

November 29 is Giving Tuesday.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will give $500,000 in matching funds for donations up to $1000 made on Giving Tuesday to supercharge your support ! Match day begins at 12:01 AM New York Time.

 

Multi-purpose – a key ingredient to the success of Champey Academy Programs

As the reputation of Champey and its students  grow , our students have recently been performing for groups of hotel tourists and other groups who have begun to visit Champey. After seeing our dancers perform at Champey in October, the Women’s International Group - Cambodia  asked our students to perform for their annual Christmans Bazaar at the Intercontinental Hotel in Phnom Penh on November 27!

Champey Academy is more than just a dance and arts school.

Although our reports typically focus on our instruction programs, Champey also provides a lot of additional support to its youthful team members. Beyond  teaching music and art to students,  Champey provides  all of our young people, whether staff or student,  with a safe place to go and grow. On a more practical level, we also provide daily lunch to the members of our team. For both class participants and student workers, their abilities are respected and encouraged and many of our students attend classes daily.

What makes Champey run?

We have a dedicated group of young people, about 20 in all, ranging from age 16 to 25 who work in various capacities at Champey. Most are part time and their income is vitally needed as they are all from disadvantaged backgrounds. As you may imagine, we have almost no turnover in our student workers as we provide a unique opportunity: working in a safe, happy place which offers them a chance to learn and to  improve their skills .

The appearance and achievement of success of our students with smiling faces posing in their practice costumes or dance costumes are in most cases sharp contrast to the daily reality of live for many of these young people as they overcome significant obstacles such as extreme poverty. Many of our team and students also suffer from the impact of HIV where the death of a parent caused additional trauma and poverty and some our students and student workers themselves are HIV positive. Team members earn $35-$170 per month depending upon tasks and number of hours worked.

Accentuate the positive!

At every turn, our goal is to “ accentuate the positive” while respecting the unique life path of each student or student worker. Our view  has long been that while the arts and dance are a point of engagement, beyond this  exposure to the arts and Cambodia's rich cultural heritage,   is the development of a sense of personal pride of accomplishment, as well as building team skills and discipline, skills that spill over into the personal lives of our young people.  For example, our team of student " greeters" have practiced their English language skills to the degree that they are now also able to give a brief introductions and explanations about the basics of traditional Cambodian dance.

Your continued support of our program provides these multiple opportunities to the young people on our staff and as well as to the local neighborhood children who can at attend our classes free of charges.

We couldn’t do this without you!

Barbara & Mark Rosasco

Getting ready for costume...
Getting ready for costume...
After the Performance
After the Performance

Links:

Nov 23, 2016

What is moringa and how can it help our farmers?

Farm homestead in Prey Veng
Farm homestead in Prey Veng

During Mark's visit to Cambodia and Prey Veng in early September, he met together with our long time local friends and "development partner" to  continue ongoing discussions on how to provide economic opportunities to our farmers in this remote area of Cambodia.

Once such possible  collarboration involved a small "moringa" processing and distribution company in Phnom Penh.  The general  idea was that the moringa company could  make a contract with our farmers to purchase a certain quantity of moringa leaves each month and, with that guaranteed market for their leaves and their ability to access water  with the wells which we provide and  that we could , hopefully,  continue to provide in the future, the farmers can plant many moringa seedlings around their homesteads. One  additional advantage of adding  moringa as an additional crop to the traditional  annual  rainy season rice crop that is the mainstay of farming in Prey Veng,   is that (organically grown)  moringa leaves are in such demand that the farmers could get  a real boost to their cash incomes while further diversifying away from dependence on a single crop of  rice.

Now,  as we fast approach the end of  2016, we are about to launch this  exciting new initiative together with our  local partner, Mohaleap Development Association. In keeping with our longstanding goal of promoting chemical free farming and improving the incomes of farmers in our target area, we  will recruit some of our farmers to plant moringa around their homesteads and in their vegetable gardens.    

This has the potential to be a real " game changer" for our farmers by boosting their incomes.

What is  moringa? Moringa is a very popular dietary supplement in many countries and regions of the world. Moringa contains proteins, vitamins, and minerals. As an antioxidant,  it is thought to potentially  help protect cells from damage.


We have now  made an agreement to sell the moringa harvest of our farmers to a local processor of moringa products with the understanding that all of our moringa leaves will be organically grown. 

The initial group will include about fifty farmers.  On average, each farmer is expected to plant about five hundred moringa seedlings around his/her homestead and vegetable garden. After about six months, the plants should reach a height of about 0.5 to 0.7 meters and the first leaves can be harvested. The initial harvest is expected to yield about 0.3 to 0.5 kilograms per plant and the farmers will receive about U.S. $0.25 per kilo of leaves. From the initial planting of about 500 seedlings, we expect each farmer will harvest 150kg to 250kg in the first year but, in subsequent years, as the plants reach maturity, those same 500 plants should yield up to 3,000 kg of moringa leaves providing our farmers with cash income of approximately $750 per year.

For most of our farmers, an additional income of $750 per year will be a considerable windfall and, with that money, they can make important improvements to their farms and to the welfare of their families.

The moringa plants can be expected to provide a good yield for about five years so we are excited at the prospect that this new program will provide our farmers with a guaranteed price for their moringa leaves resulting in a significant boost to their incomes.

Keeping young seedlings of any kind alive and flourishing throughout the year will require a well to insure a stable supply of water.  Kasumisou Foundation is hoping to sponsor the drilling of new wells for farmers who do not yet have a well,   at an approximate cost of $ 270 per well.  Key to the success of  each farmer for this new initiative,  will be his ability to access a reliable  supply of water .

Each year since 2001 we have driiled water wells, totaling more than 450  wells to date which provide a reliable supply of water for thousands of people. These well often serve not only the farmer but also  their neighbors. Finding sponsors for the  new water wells will be a critical part of the long term success of this program and we are hopeful that our donors can see how a modest investment in a well can help a farmer work toward a significantly better life for his family.

GlobalGiving Match Day on November 29

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is providing  $500,000 in matching funds on Tuesday, November 29. Your donation to Kasumisou Foundation's Rural Assistance Program of any amount up to $1000 is elibigle to receive a 50% matching donation from the Gates Foundation.  Please join us and support our efforts  by  helping to fund  new wells and build  a new future  for our farmers.  

 We are deeply grateful to you,  our donors for your  continued support.

Barbara & Mark Rosasco

 
   

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