Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids

by Kasumisou Foundation Vetted since 2009 Top Ranked Effective Nonprofit Site Visit Verified
Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids
Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids
Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids
Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids
Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids
Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids
Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids
Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids
Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids
Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids
Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids
Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids
Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids
Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids
Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids
Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids
Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids
Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids
Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids
Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids
Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids
Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids
Ms V  , age 70+
Ms V , age 70+

Life lines then ( 1998 ) and now ( 2019 ) 

When we started this work 21 years ago,  much of the center of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital city, was covered by large slum neighborhoods comprised often of shacks constructed from cardboard, scrap wood and rusted sheets of corrugated metal.   Many of our earliest FSP patients and their families lived in those slums. Today, though, the city is a vast construction zone with new high rises going up in every neighborhood and construction cranes looming over the remaining slum areas.

Many of the poorest residents have been forced to relocate to areas far outside of the city center as the old slum neighborhoods were cleared to make way for new development. Some of our former patients, women whom our staff had judged to be capable of caring for themselves, were among those who moved to areas far from the city center once their support from our program was stopped. Distance and Phnom Penh’s now gridlock  traffic congestion have made it  difficult for our staff to stay in touch with those former patients who were no longer formally enrolled in our program and who, in many cases were forced to find housing far outside the city.

However , several of those patients still return regularly to the city for monitoring by the hospitals to which they were assigned for their anti-retroviral therapy and  they have re-appeared on our program radar.  In  a few cases, we have admitted a few patients  back into the Family Support Program after verifying that , without our program's support, they were struggling to survive .

In searh  of a lifeline....

Last year one woman (approximately 70 yers old) who had moved to Koh Kong province to live on her son’s tiny farm there, returned to Phnom Penh. She sought our support because life on on the farm was too tough for a 70 + year old with a fragile medical condition and the travel to Phnom Penh for bi-monthly medical checkups was more than she could handle.

In need of a lifeline....

Similarly, this month a woman who had been in our Family Support Program for many years but who had been transitioned out of the program about five years ago by our former director, sought our support again after a chance encounter with our field staff at the hospital in Phnom Penh where she gets a checkup and receives her ARV therapy every three months.   Many years ago she lost her teenage daughter to the sex industry which left her with only her son. That boy is now nineteen years old but is severely mentally impaired and he is incapable of caring for himself.

Mark met with her and her son during his February visit and decided to restart our support for them beginning  March 1. Those two cases and several others where the women or their children suffer from mental impairment or where they are otherwise unlikely to ever achieve self sufficiency are constant reminders of the ongoing need for a program like our FSP which provides for the essential living needs of some of the most destitute AIDS patients in and around Phnom Penh.  

The support of you, our generous donors, has long provided the fragile families in our program with urgentl needed humanitarian assistance and we are deeply grateful to you all for your past and continued support. 

Barbara & Mark Rosaso 

Mrs. Y and son
Mrs. Y and son

Links:

Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, sometimes it is hard to tell.....

Our project report this month features  one  of the families in our Family Support Program. As we had discussed before, in recent years, whenever possible, we have worked hard to help our familes in this program move toward self sufficiency .  Having said that, there remains a core of fragile households, each facing unique challenges  which would make it difficult or even impossible for us to end our support .  The task of managing the support of these families can be extremely difficult as our report will soon reveal. 

One such case is a  family that  includes a boy, now age 13  and in grade 6. This boy and his mother  have been  in our program for more than 10 years. The mother has AIDS.   Last year the mother met a man,  who against our stated policy,  moved into the house. It was not a good situation, as the  man  was sometimes violent and verbally  abused the boy. After a few months, the man persuaded the mother to abandon her son and  the mother ran off with the man.  Before she had met that man, this woman was extremely hard working and took very good care of her son.  Despite her illness, she sometimes worked for  the city, cleaning sewer drains for $ 5 per day. In addition to that, she collected recyclables on the street earning up to $ 3 per day. Our program staff person, a woman,  herself  HIV+ took the boy into her own tiny home to live with her family and we provided financial support.

The boy,  not surprisingly  ,suffered severe trauma and was emotionally scarred by his mother's abandonment.  The very good news is that his mother has recently returned after several months away.   It is a difficult situation and one which obviously requires careful oversight, placing the well being of the boy first.  Having survived several difficult months without his mother, he is overjoyed that she is back. They are now living, just the two of them,  in a simple single room.   It could be  all too easy to judge harshly ,and be completely unforgiving of such a hurtful action,  but none of us can even begin  know the grinding poverty and extreme hardship that someone in her position has endured year after year, with no hope of respite in sight.Although we continue to support the boy , we are  at present, evaluating whether we feel that we can resume  support for the mother and we are monitoring the family situation carefully. 

Without the support and monitoring of our program, surely this boy would have been "lost". Our deepest hope is that things  can return to a more normal state and help this young man move forward in his life.   

Your continued support of our program means that we can assist fragile families like these and help them through trying times.

Tuesday, November 27,  is Giving Tuesday and marks the start of the GlobalGiving year end giving campaign  with $150,000 in matching funds and 30+ bonus prizes (ranging from $3,000 to $100) over a 24-hour period on #GivingTuesday. Matching funds will be determined proportionally at the end of the campaign. 

Our hope is that these incentives will  encourage you to generously celebrate and support the change you’re making in the world when you support programs like ours. 

We are deeply grateful  for your support.

 

Barbara & Mark Rosasco  

Links:

.

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:

Vichet and cousin
Vichet and cousin

Please join us ednesday July 18 at 9:00am  for the GlobalGiving 50% rBonus Match Day.

Your contribution  of up to $500 can receive a 50% match.   Matching funds ( $120,000)  will be awarded first come , first served , so please set your clock for 9:00 am New York Time!

 

How two Kasumisou Foundation projects are helping one student leap forward.

We have written about Vichet's family before, as this family has been in our care, in our Family support Program  (FSP)  since 2002 when Vichet and his brother, orphaned, were being cared for by  their grandmother.  As is the case for many families, over time as the boys grew up, the family split apart , with Vichet remaining with his grandmother. In more recent years, Vichet's young cousin, now age 13 was  also orphaned and came to live in the same household, where we provide  help with housing, social support and other services. Vichet has taken on the responsibility of supplementing the household food budget and works full time. 

As many of you know, our FSP,  while providing essential living support such as food, housing, access to medical care and the like, strongly emphasized the value of education as the primary way to break the chain of inherited poverty. USAID statistics estimate that while 96% of children receive at least some elementary education, just 34% attend lower secondary school and just 21% upper secondary school ( high school) with graduation rates being estimated at a much lower rate.

It is a considerable accomplishment to even make it to high school and diplomas are awarded only upon completion of a difficult  national examination. Vichet’s educational progress was uneven, but he stayed with it and last year completed grade 12. Sadly,  he did not succeed in his first attempt to  pass the national exam for a high school certificate. Despite working full time loading trucks and delivering household products for a distributor, this year Vichet to continue his studies on his own and he was able to pass his exam. Vichet continues to work and makes  about $ 150 per month, most of which goes to pay the family’s food expenses .

Last month Vichet began   attending evening classes,  taking foundation courses in English at Panasastra University in Phnom Penh . He attends classes in the evenings after finishing his work. Vichet is working to prepare for enrollment. Hopefully after completing two semesters of foundation study, Vichet will enter a degree program in English language and literature.

Vichet’s goal is to qualify for work as a tour guide in Phnom Penh. However, he is very intelligent and hard working, so depending upon the results of his university studies we may encourage him to pursue a more ambitions goal for his future.

We hope, in the near future , to invite him to join the staff at our Champey Academy of arts and to live at the school. This would allow him to avoid a very long daily commute between his grandmother’s home in the resettlement district and his job and university in central Phnom Penh.

This project shows how a life can change and catapult forward with the right combination of financial and social support combined with a strong work ethic of a young man determined to lift himself out of poverty.

Vichet's young cousin, is also an excellent student and we have high hopes that she will follow Vichet's example of hard work, determination and family loyalty. 

 Our support of fragile families like Vichet's  is only possible due to the generosity of you, our donors.

We hope that your can join us on July 18th for the GlobalGiving Bonus Match day to help your donation work even harder.

 

Barbara & Mark

 

Mark was in Cambodia in April and  met with each of the families in our program.  At that time, Mark  learned that several of our families were really struggling to make ends meet and that for a few this meant that there was not adequate money for food. 

Official estimates of inflation in Cambodia  have been  in the range of 3% for the past few years,  but unofficially,  as  Phnom Penh continues to " gentrify" and rebuild, rents and other urban prices continue to increase,some times sharply.   Cumulatively, over the past few years, this means that many of our families have seen their food expenditures rise by 10% to 20%   and in some cases, even more . Additionally, the rents that  we pay  on the modest rooms that we provide to  our families have  also continued to increase. All of this means that we will need to increase the monthly support to our families in order to compensate for the overal rise in prices. 

As we have mentioned in previous reports, over the past few years, we have continued to try trim the number of families in our program.  As the economy has improved , and health permitting, some of  our participants have been able to to get part time  work  at modest jobs. For others,  as children in the family  have grown up and become wage earners, these now adult children  can  step in to assist . None the less, we still have a lingering core of about 20 families who are unable to make ends meet and for whom our program's assistance enables them to avoid homelessness and a life on the streets. Instead, they can  have a very modest lifestyle  with dignity. In the first  years of our programs,  the early 2000s , we lost many of the adults in our program to AIDS within 1 to 2 years. Now with changes in medical technology, we are blessed with increased longevity for our program participants,  but this  also creates the need for a much longer than initially  anticipated financial commitment, for these fragile families cannot sustain themselves without assistance and unlike the developed world, there is no social welfare system in Cambodia to assist them. 

We are now in the process of reviewing all our financial committments to our program families so that we can be confident that there is adequate food and shelter.  As a small foundation with limited  resouces, the challenges and impact of inflation are a serious concern to us. The generous and loyal a support of our donors  provides financial assistance to these fragile families and for that, we are truly grateful.

Barbara & Mark Rosasco 

 

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Organization Information

Kasumisou Foundation

Location: Menlo Park, California - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Barbara Rosasco
Secretary/Treasurer
Menlo Park, Ca. United States
$100,506 raised of $150,000 goal
 
785 donations
$49,494 to go
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