Oct 29, 2018

News from Champey

Champey Performers at Raffles Hotel
Champey Performers at Raffles Hotel

Creative solutions paving the way to success! 

School break has ended and things are getting back to normal.  We currently have between 60 and 70  students daily in our classes at Champey.  Our students, aqe 5 to 24  come from “modest” backgrounds, a status   which can priesent challenges .

Unique Challenges 

Although the students  at Champey Academy have unique opportunities to experience high level instruction in art, dance and music, their  family economics can  make it a continuous tug of war.   Should the aspiring  young  art/dance/music artists and performers  continue their studies or should they  go to work at a market stall or in a menial job to provide a small amount  urgently needed  extra income to the family?

Our Jobs for Youth program   at Champey provides a middle road that allows many of our students to continue their artistic  studies,  while earning much needed income to supplement modest family incomes.  For example,  some of our dance  students  are greeters to the tourists who visit the school. We have about 10 students who fulfill several modest jobs like these to earn a small stipend.  The stipend is often  just enough to justify their family to allow them  to  continue  their studies at the school. We also  provide a lunch to a number of our student workers after learning that some were on such a tight budget that they would skip lunch. One of our teachers, very kindly started to subsidize a sort of group lunch so that everyone would share lunch and no one would be left ot.   Other students, such as our top dance and music students  are now  able to earn a seasonal ( tourist season)  small monthly income due to our developing relationship with the Raffles Hotel  in Phnom Penh.

Creative Solutions

We have been working with Raffles Hotel group since 2017.  We are pleased that it has veen  recently agreed that a group of   our students will perform weekly ( Thursday  nights) at the hotel through March of 2019. The performance group numbers about 15 people, which includes 3 teachers and generally around 12 students, of which 3 to 4 are musicians, one  acting   as the master of ceremonies, ( explaining and introducing the performance)  and the remaining students are dancers. Typically each dance requires 6 dancers .

Not only do our students earn much needed income , but the students  get public exposure which  helps them, over time,  to build a more professional resume, by being able to list their performances  at the  prestigous Raffles Hotel in Phnom Penh.     It is a win for everyone: Raffles Hotel has a wonderful weekly performance group with a unique background and story , the students develop their performance skills and earn a modest income and Champey academy achieves a key goal of its mission, educating Cambodian youth  and others about the richness of Cambodian culture while helping our students build skills and experience to help move them toward a more middle class life in the future.

It has taken years for these students to reach the standards of excellence required for  performances at a top notch venue such as  the Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh.  I encourage you to visit the Raffles Hotel Le Royal webside  sight  to give you a sense of the performance venue for our students. Expectations are high and command professional level skills from our students.   The  accomplishments of these students  have come as a result of hard work , often for long periods , with no reward in sight. Their success now serves as a role model to other  students. 

Funding challenges endanger our program 

Recently, due to the near constant and worthwhile  appeals for help due to many natural disasters, it has made it very difficult for us to raise the funds needed to keep the school open and our need for funding is urgent.   Your support of this program over the years has made these achievements possible and  we hope that you can see  what a difference that your support can make.

These challenges impact not only our student workers, but the upkeep of the modest building that houses the school and the lunch that we provide to  our student workers to help them keep expenses down. 

What you can do

It is easy to look at these bright, successful young people and assume that there are sufficient financial resources to help them to continue to progress in their studies and indeed in their lives without our programs.   One of our biggest funding challenges is that our students look  " too good", their pride , high personal standards and great attitude make them look " too successful"  belying the fact the underlying truth that  success or failure hangs by a thread.  

Please join with us to help these aspirig young people to continue to move foward in their studies. Your continued financial support provides so many things to our students, which, when combined , creates a  unique  pathway to success. 


Wen are deeply grateful to you for your continued support.

Barbara & Mark Rosasco 

Students taking a break from practice
Students taking a break from practice
Impact of rain on our students
Impact of rain on our students
Students enjoying lunch at Champey
Students enjoying lunch at Champey

Links:

Oct 12, 2018

Just one life.....

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Our update this quarter will focus on just one  our families, up close and personal to illustrate how our program can make a profound difference.

Most people don’t think about the fact that there are grades of poverty. There are people  who are so utterly  desperate that their only goal is to eat enough to survive. The simplicity of their desperation  is  compelling the instant that we see it.  Then, there are the others,  who, like many of the families in our  program live on the outside  edge of such  desperation  but  who, because of our program,  are lucky enough to have a basic  economic “ survival platform”.   We have always encouraged  and often insisted that the families in our program  somehow strive for “more” , that they should  seek part time work to supplement what we give to them, which when combined, hopefully, can  get them  through the month.

The remaining  families in our program  all have unique challenges. Recently, we learned, to our great dismay  that one lady , approximately age 70,  told our home care coordinator that she wanted to kill herself because she was worn out  from  being hungry all of the time.  This woman ( HIV -)  has been in our program for 8 years . Her daughter is both HIV+ and afflicted cancer. Both women, over the  past 8 years have supplemented our program’s support by washing clothes.  In recent months, the older woman has been constantly ill and unable to do work of any kind. Now, her daughter has become ill and is often too ill to work and no work means no “extra” money.

Typically, our program  pays the rent and utilities  per family.   After that, each family  receives a food allowance  of $ 45 to $70, depending upon family  composition.  In recent months, we have been told that the food allowances are too low as it is now estimated that it costs about $70 per month per person for adequate food due to local inflation.

You may feel angry reading that we are “ only” offering such a subsistence living to our families. In reality, we have always felt that it was better to offer “ just enough” and to  encourage our program members to work to help themselves. Our other  reality is that there are no extra funds.

In  this case , this lady  can no longer work.  She did not ask us  for more money, because  she assumed that there was not any more money  to be had.  So instead,  she  began to consider  suicide…

We have, of course, increased her food allowance and we are  monitoring  the situation carefully.

Our legacy families each confront unique challenges. They are with us because there is no where else for them  to turn. These families  and their 17 children face challenges which would make it difficult or even impossible for us to end our support .  At this time, we can think of no near term exit plan for these  women and their children and, so, we are committed to continuing support for them for as along as we can raise the necessary funds.

We are deeply grateful to all of you for  your generous support. Truly, your donations do make a difference to these fragile families.

Barbara & Mark

Links:

Oct 12, 2018

Well,well,well.....

One of our new well recipients
One of our new well recipients

Wells are a vital to  the success of our organic moringa  farmers. The Morimga Program  presents our farmers and their families with a unique opportunity to create a sustainable income stream, something quite rare for subsistence Cambodian farmers.

We have 20 farmers who have been selected  on merit  to receive wells by our local consulting and advisory partners. Each well  costs $280 and each well  will make a profound change in the lives of these farming  families.   

Well drilling should start in January, the start of the dry season, so we are hoping to find sponsors for each of our 20 farmers or our farmers will need to wait , possibly until next year.

Well drilling  has been a long established foundation of our Rural Assistance Program and since our program  Program  began in 2000 , we have drilled and safety tested more than 500 water wells bringing reliable drinking water, at no charge,  to target families ( typically 2 to 4 families share a well) in 43 villages in NE Cambodia.  For many years, we have promoted our own  green farming program as a part  of our quest to provide both  sustainable income to our farmers and as well as a reliable and safe water supply.    Most of our  farmers are illiterate, so our nearly 2 decade focus on “ green farming” and sustainability has  resulted in better environmental hygiene and also higher crop prices to our farmers.  

As we have recently reported, our new organic Moringa program,  is  a group of 50 model farmers,  and 20 of them  still need wells. These farmers stand on the threshold of a revolutionary change, the ability to grow a sustainable cash, organic  crop, organic  moringa,  which is used in Cambodia as  a nutritional supplement. We have negotiated a 5 year contract with a local processor and our 20 farmers are eagerly awaiting their opportunity for a well which is possible only with your support.

Please join us and sponsor one of these 20 wells. Now that the holiday season is fast approaching, consider the “ gift” of a well to your loved one  as a truly memorable and long lasting gift of hope and generosity that will change lives.

Thank you for your kind support.

Barbara & Mark

One of our new well recipients
One of our new well recipients

Links:

 
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