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

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.

Aug 2, 2016

Meet our newest candidate for college graduation !

Kasumisou Scholars - Hun
Kasumisou Scholars - Hun

Old Proverb: Give  a hungry man a fish  and you  feed  him today. Teach   him to fish and he can  feed himself  for a lifetime.

Important info

  •  USAID website shows only 21% of  students even enroll in high school in Cambodia.
  •  Lacking education, low skilled, migrant day laborers  often earn just $ 3.00 per day in Phnom Penh,  Cambodia’s capital city.

The Magic Moment – Update on Kasumisou Scholars

We love our college program, Kasumisou Scholars because of what we  call the “magic moment”.  This is the moment  when the years of hard work and study , hope, despair, encouragement and  sacrifice all  come together to produce a new college graduate.  Our college students, at every turn, have  faced incalculable odds against their success. Yet, here they are, one by one, reaching  that “ magic moment”,  where success has arrived, breaking the cycle of inherited poverty.  Their accomplishments are truly  cause for celebration!

Meet Hun: our  newest candidate for college  graduation .

Hun entered our college program in 2012 at age 19 and came to us from  rural Prev Veng Province, Ba Phnom Province.

Hun was one of four students in our college program to come from Ba Phnom High School  arts program’s first class. Like the other students, a combination of dogged determination, courage to try new things and hard study propelled Hun forward to college and our Kasumisou Scholars program.

Hun’s family are subsistence farmers of very modest means. None the less, Hun proved to be a determined student and not only completed high school  but distinguished himself by actively  participating in what would become an  award winning student arts program that we sponsored at Ba Phnom High School. In 2011, Ba Phnom’s art program took first place from over 100 groups and was awarded Best Youth Khmer Arts program in Cambodia in 2011 by Prime Minister Hun Sen.  Hun was one of about 40 students in the high school who participated and studied   traditional Cambodian dance and music

Hun and other students, through the arts program, were also encouraged by us to engage with their community and  Hun joined a green initiative organized by Kasumisou Foundation called Green Champions. Several of the arts students helped plant thousands of tree seedlings along a one-kilometer stretch of barren, but regularly trafficked road connecting Ba Phnom town to more rural areas. Months later, hundreds of the tree seedlings  had survived because of our students’ diligence and hard work and today the trees are tall and green, providing needed bio mass to enrich the soil and offering a gift of cooling shade to travelers along the road.

As a participant in the Kasumisou Scholars program, Hun entered Norton University, a private university in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to study Business Management in 2012.   Once enrolled, Hun lived at our Champey Academy arts school, sleeping  in a classroom with another student because he was unable to afford to rent a room  and he earned a stipend of about $100 per month  doing odd jobs for the school  to cover all of his personal  costs including  food, clothing and transportation.

Now, nearly 4 years later at age 23, Hun is waiting for the  results of his exams. Hun  hopes to utilize his business degree, having set his sights on a job at a microfinance firm where he expects a starting salary of $ 150 to $200 per month.  Hun will continue to stay at Champey  for a year or so in order to save the $50 per month a rented room would cost and establish some financial stability.  He hopes to join another Kasumisou Scholar graduate, Lean Yu, who having already graduated from college, works at the same firm.

Our deepest  concern

We just hate the idea that the fate of our  students, like Hun,  rests entirely upon our fundraising ability and timing of receipt of donations. Donors and supporters are an ever changing group, influenced by personal and global events.  Like many small non-profits,  we  are challenged by the need to continuously raise funds  and we operate month to month. Before September 15, we will  need to pay about  $2,500 in  tuition bills and others later in the fall.  Basic tuition costs  per student varies, based upon type of program and institution, currently ranging from about $ 400 to $ 800  per year.  Over the years, there have been many times where we have  come right to the very edge of having to cut some of our programs because we cannot spend funds we do not have.

The best solution is to encourage  broader support that can help us  create better funding  stability and ensure that  our student’s can continue to move forward to achieve their dream of a college degree.  Clearly, our program is achieving results. Hun will become our 5 th college graduate from Kasumisou Foundation program's  students. Your support  can help our other  college students   to move   toward  that “ magic moment” and encourage others to begin their journey.

Our sincere thanks to our donors who have helped Hun and our other students to strive toward and achieve their dreams of a college education. Truly, your support is changing lives. We hope that you will continue with us in our efforts and encourage your friends and families to join you in support of our efforts.

Thank you,

 

Barbara & Mark

Archive Photos - Kasumisou Scholars Application
Archive Photos - Kasumisou Scholars Application
Green Champions Tree Planting Project 12-2015
Green Champions Tree Planting Project 12-2015
 
   

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