Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids

by Kasumisou Foundation
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

Program Update

Largely due to the stabilization of the AIDS crisis in Cambodia in recent years, we have, for the past several years, operated this program in what could be described as a  “maintenance” mode, keeping our list of patients stable and not accepting any new women in the program. However, this year we felt compelled to add two new women to the program.  Neither woman is suffering from AIDS but both are mothers of students in our Champey Academy of Arts school of traditional arts for young people and both families are extremely poor which can  make the children vulnerable. 

In the first years of our program – 1998 and 1999 – and for several years after that, the AIDS crisis in Cambodia was so uncontrolled and the numbers of homeless, sick and dying AIDS afflicted women were so great ,that we felt it was necessary that we concentrate all of our resources only on women who met those two primary criteria – homeless and destitute and suffering from medium to late stages of AIDS.   Beginning from about 2002, with the introduction and growing availability of anti-retroviral drug therapy for AIDS patients in Cambodia, AIDS very slowly and gradually became less of a ‘death sentence’ and more like an extremely serious but often manageable health issue for many of our women.  After operating the program with an average of about 75 women and about 125 dependent children for more than a decade, in around 2011 and 2012 we started culling the list of patients, as we identified   some of our women whose health had recovered sufficiently for them to work to support themselves.    By 2013 we had reduced the number of women in the program to about 35 but among those were many whom we felt certain could not survive either physically or financially on their own without at least some support from our program.

Since we have a program and a mechanism for supporting poor and homeless women and their kids and because many of the students at our Champey Academy of Arts come from extremely poor families, we have decided to consider some of the mothers of those Champey Academy students for inclusion in our FSP regardless of whether they suffer from AIDS. 

The two mothers mentioned above will be the first of what we expect might be several homeless and impoverished mothers of Champey Academy students whom we will add to the support roles of our AIDS Patients Family Support Program (FSP) in the near future.

With the addition of those first two mothers of Champey Academy students, the roles of our FSP now include the following.

  • Adult women including six who are between the ages of 75 and 85 years and one who, more than ten years ago, was  disabled by a massive stroke which has left one side of body paralyzed:  20 women.
  • Young school aged children11 children.
  • Severely disabled adult children of our women: 2 young adult males. One is the adult son and the other is the adult grandson of women in our program and both of them are developmentally disabled and incapable of living independently.

One of the challenges in managing  and reporting on a program like this is that there are few  “big”  markers that openly affirm success. Instead, the “ good news” is that the program runs as hoped for, that the  needs of these fragile individuals  are met and that even a casual observer can see that the humanitarian value, although small in scale, is significant, indeed, literally life changing, to each of our individual program participants. A key goal of our efforts is to enable these fragile families to life in dignity. 

Without exception,  our efforts, made possible by you,  our kind donors , the lives of the members of our program are made dramatically better than if these folks were left to fend for themselves  and try to survive on their own . To this day, whenever possible, we place great value on even the smallest bit of self sufficiency as we strongly encourage our participants to engage in whatever small scale, dignified employment that is available.

We are deeply grateful to you for your support.

Barbara & Mark Rosasco

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Safe and sound!
Safe and sound!

CALENDAR REMINDER - GLOBALGIVING LITTLE BY LITTLE CAMPAIGN APRIL 4 ~ 8

DONATIONS UP TO $ 50 CAN RECEIVE A 50% MATCH ( $ 25) 

 

These happy smiles seemed impossible a year ago when this family  suddenly found that they had to leave their tiny home unexpectedly under the threat of domestic violence. The sudden shift meant that the family was homeless , living on the street,  and their situation was dire. Our program has,  for more than 20 years provided essential support for fragile families deeply impacted by extreme poverty or HIV status or both. In this case, extreme poverty, and an unstable living situation caused us to offer family support, providing extremely modest housing - a single room, a modest food allowance and of course support to keep  this young lady in school.

Your support makes this possible . Our intervention in situations like this  is the frontline defense against trafficking and other abuse. Your past and continued  support really does make a difference and we are deeply grateful to you.

Barbara & Mark 

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Calendar Reminder:   GlobalGivings Little by Little Campaign April 4 - April 8  

 

No news really IS good news!

Since our last report in late November 2021, we are relieved to say that there has not been any “ excitement” in our program. The real news is that since the beginning of the year , life in Cambodia has begun to return to something resembling a pre-Covid normal. Schools, shops and business are for the most part now open and there has even been a return of some tourism, although it remains  light compared to a typical pre-Covid  high season  ( December through March). As a part of this return to normal, children are back in  classes and our folks are able, once again, to return to their jobs in markets or selling birdseed near the  Palace or temples etc.

The big issue now on everyone’s  mind is the impact of higher energy prices and inflation. Food inflation remains a problem , especially for our  families,  who are literally living on the very edge of survival.  As we mentioned in our last report, we implemented a modest  monthly increase  to help cover these increases in living expenses and this is something that we will need to maintain a close watch on  for the foreseeable future.

Although our FSP  program has been winding down its family roster over the past several years ( please see  our last report for more detail),  during  the past year we have taken on two new families . One family is a mother with 3 children: a daughter about age 13 and her two younger brothers , one a toddler. They joined our program due to  a family crisis, where they had fled their home and  gone into hiding due to threats from a family member.   This situation is now stable, and we have found suitable shelter for the family. The mom has been able to return to her job selling  bird seed to tourists and the daughter is back in school . She is also required, as a conditional aspect of our support, to stay in school and to attend classes daily after school at our art school as a way to provide safe activities outside of school hours and keep her way from gangs and other high risk  behavior.

The second family is a mother with two sons age about 10 and 13. The elder son dropped out of school after completing grade 2, due to  what we suspect may be a  learning disability and for a variety of reasons, he is unable to attend public school.  We have encouraged him to study  at our art school, for the time being, replacing formal education in a public school with extensive class room time at our art school.. He attends classes full time where he studies  dance   and music. He has shown  significant progress and he is well on the way to  becoming  a skillful dancer. These activities keep him occupied, build skills and self esteem and perhaps, eventually, a pathway to earning a living.

Each family in our program has a set of unique  circumstances. We have seen over the many years, that an individualized approach can make a big difference in the pathway to a positive outcome.  Please visit our project report “ Build Dreams"   to see just how big a difference our combined  focus on family structure and education has impacted three children from our FSP , who are now adults and who are each about to reach  their dream of achieving a college education .

Over the years, this program has provided essential help and guidance to fragile families impacted by HIV and/or extreme poverty. Your generous donations make this possible and we can only express our sincere thanks and gratitude to you for your  generous support.

Barbara & Mark Rosasco

 

Calendar Reminder !

GlobalGiving will hold its  Little by Little Campaign Apriol 4 - April 8  wiht a 50% donor match up to $ 25 on unique individual donations up to $ 50.

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NOVEMBER 30  IS GIVING TUESDAY !
NOVEMBER 30 IS GIVING TUESDAY !

Our July update focused on a then,  new  14 day COVID  lockdown  on Thai Border.  A sense of fear had spread through Phnom Penh as schools and businesses  were  impacted with rolling lockdowns. Markets and streets were  largely  deserted and many businesses like factories,  hotels and tourist services remained closed. Now, just a few months later, it is estimated the at 85% of Cambodians are now vaccinated and all of our FSP patients are now vaccinated.  In recent weeks,  most businesses and schools have opened back up and life looks like it is beginning to  return to normal.

Throughout this difficult period of school and business closures, we have been watchful to address  any increased hardship for our fragile FSP families. We have learned over these past 20+ years, that even small adverse changes can become a  life changing tipping point unless managed carefully.

A brief history

In 1999 when we first started our program, composed of homeless women afflicted with AIDS, our plan  was to provide temporary supplementary support, understanding that initially there was a very high mortality rate. We had a changeable core of about 75 families and their many children.  Later, with the introduction of effective AIDS medications, the idea evolved that as and when the  health of our patients improved or life circumstances changed for the better, such as remarriage, or children becoming old enough to help support the family, we would be able to discontinue support for many if not most of these women.  

In fact, this is what happened. By 2012,of our many patients. some  had  passed away, others saw marked improvement in their health status, enabling them to return to work and many of the  children grew up to where they could help or even fully support the family. By 2013  we were able to identify and retain only about 35 families, who would not be able to make it on their own financially.

Where we are today

Now we care for a core  of 21 adults  and 10 dependent children across 16 families.  Although each of  these adult women have been in our program since its early years, none is capable of being fully self supporting for herself or her children or dependents. Only the supplemental support of our program prevents  these fragile remaining families from becoming homeless.

One such family is composed of an adult  woman, now over age 80, grandmother to two adult children: one is a young woman age 22, and her brother, age 28. The children’s mother passed away many years ago in our program and we have continued to help support  the family so that they can stay together.  Grandmother, although illiterate, has a tiny stall in a small roadside pop up  market selling vegetables. It is important to remember that during COVID lockdown even this small income was not possible.

The granddaughter, very kind and sweet, was not good in school and has, at best, a grade school education . She helps at the market stall and she  is trying hard to get a factory job now that factories are reopening after COVID closures. Her brother cannot work.  Although he is 28, he has capabilities of about age 5 due a variety of long standing learning and health issues.

The impact of inflation

As of November 1, the average family in our program received about $ 105 per month in support for rent, food and school expenses. Cambodia, like many nations , has recently experienced a significant jump in the costs of food and fuel and our families literally have no way to cope with these cost increases. As of December 1, we will increase  food allowances. We will start by increasing each family’s food support by $ 15 to $20 per month. Even so, we are not confident that this will be enough for  our families to  stay even, as food price inflation  continues to accelerate. Most likely we will need to implement a second round of increases of about the same amount early in the new year.

Here in the US,  we are annoyed  or inconvenienced by the recent price inflationm, seeing  news reports daily that  describe  10,15,20% or more increases in the costs of  our basic grocery products. US fuel prices are reported to be up by 60% vs November 2020.  Consider, for a moment, the impact  on the families in our program, on the  purchasing power of   a  $ 105 monthly food allowance that  is impaired 20% to 30% .

Tuesday, November 30 is giving Tuesday . We hope that you will join with us to give thanks for our blessings by intentionally seeking  to help others who are not as fortunate.

Your kindness and selfless generosity is the only reason that we have been  able to continue to  assist  fragile families for more than 20 years. We are so very thankful to you all for your support.

Barbara & Mark  

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Update on our Family Support Program

Hun Sen, Cambodia's Prime Ministre announces today  announced a  new  14 day lockdown  on Thai Border areas as  newly reported  Covid covid cases cases remain high.

A brief history of Covid in Cambodia:   Cambodia closed to foreign travelers in March 2020 due to COVID. Initially Cambodia was not hit hard and infection numbers were well controlled. A  sudden COVID outbreak in Phnom Penh in February 2021 caused new and  then continuing restrictions, including severely restricted travel in and out of the cities. Checkpoints on the major highways made it nearly impossible for city residents to visit their home villages or for people from the rural provinces to enter the city earlier this year. Now, although some of these drastic restrictions have been modified, schools are currently  closed and entry into Cambodia remains very difficult with enforced 14 day quarantines as  Cambodia  continues with  a series of rolling lockdowns in  direct response to the COVID case count.

A sense of fear had spread through Phnom Penh as schools and businesses including the major markets, were  impacted with rolling lockdowns and markets and streets became and remain  largely  deserted.  Now, Phnom Penh remains on a partial lockdown as  new cases remain high, while Cambodia announces, today, a 14 day  lockdown of 8 provincial areas near the Thai border .  Consequently many businesses like hotels and tourist services remain closed,as are many of the garment factories,  although some  essential services like banks are now open. Some  markets have reopened, but they remain largely without customers.  Although vaccination rates are increasing, Cambodia is using the Chinese vaccine rate which has an estimated effectiveness of about 50%.  so community spread remains a real risk. 

Most of our FSP patients are now vaccinated, but their children are not yet vaccinated because Cambodia is only  just now opening vaccines  to 12 to 17 year old children.

Our FSP home visit coordinator, is herself a former patient from our program. She  conducts weekly home visits with our FSP patients to monitor and report on each family’s situation. A mother of three young children, she is HIV positive and  although vaccinated, she is vulnerable to Covid. . Understandably, she wants to avoid any possible exposure to COVID. This woman has been associated with our program for 15 years , first as a patient and now as member of our staff. We have agreed with her, that in the interest of safety, we have  suspended  home visits until the community spread of COVID in Phnom Penh is  brought under control. She  remains in  close telephone contact with our patients.

We continue to support 16 fragile families. A key part of our “ contract” with our patient families is that they work when, if and as able, to help, at least in a very small way, in their own support. Now, due to COVID closures and their own medical conditions, it is not possible for them to work at their modest , part time jobs at market stalls, etc. and their  opportunitties to  bring in even  a bit of money has largely disappeared. Instead, for safety reasons, they are home bound. Now, more than ever, the fragile families in our program depend upon us, as any sort of part time work presents a potentially serious medical danger.

We are deeply grateful to you,our many supporters for your generosity that helps these fragile families live with dignity. On behalf of the families in our program, please accept our heartfelt thanks. We hope that you will continue  on with in our efforts , particularly during these  very difficult times.

Barbara & Mark Rosasco 

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Kasumisou Foundation

Location: Menlo Park, California - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Barbara Rosasco
Secretary/Treasurer
Menlo Park, Ca. United States
$131,724 raised of $150,000 goal
 
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