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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
view of the country side
view of the country side

Mark was in Cambodia in April.  During his visit, Mark  met with and reviewed the circumstances of all of our program's  families. All of our  families in one manner or another ,  are struggling to make ends meet. The  financial reality  of our program’s limited  resources and the financial reality of each family in our circumstances requires a constant balancing act.

The families in our  program live just outside the edge of desperation  but  who, because of our program,   have a basic  economic “ survival platform”.   We urge and typically require  that the families in our program ,if they are at all capable of doing so,   find ways to earn money to supplement our support.  

The current economic boom in Phnom Penh continues to push food and rent  prices higher as land values soar, forcing unwanted change upon some of our fragile families. Here is the story of one family.

The story of “ Grandmother”

Grandmother joined our program about 16 years ago. Then at A 65, she was struggling to care for her daughter who was dying from AIDS and her two young grandchildren. Her grandson, then A 10 had mental capacity of about A 3 or A 4.   Her granddaughter was about A 7. The mother soon passed away and Grandmother continued to care for the two children. She earned some money through a tiny vegetable stall at a market near by and the family managed to survive because of the support that our program provided .

Grandmother is now A 81, her grandson A 26 and granddaughter A 22.  Sadly, little has changed. Grandmother and granddaughter  sell vegetables in the market 7 days a week. Grandmother  nets,  after expenses, about  $4 to $5 per day, which is a monthly income of $112 to $135. We provide a food allowance of $70 per month and housing assistance at $50, which gives the family at best $255 per month to support a family of 3 people.

Immense challenges face this family

Grandmother is now A 81 and  she is beginning to become a bit frail. Another challenge facing this family is the reality that the grandson, A 26, is mentally only 3 or 4 years old and he  cannot be left alone , even for short times. He accompanies his grandmother to the market every day so that she can watch over him.

Now a new and unexpected challenge faces the family. The land, where the market has been located for at least the 20 years we have been working in Cambodia, recently has been sold to a developer. This means that the market will close and those who earned their living  at market stalls like Grandmother, will be forced to relocate to survive. That is  if they can find a place and afford to move.

One possible , partial  solution

Grandmother is trying her best to come up with a way to care for her grandchildren. She  has approached us with an idea.   It seems that Grandmother has access to a tiny plot of land in the countryside about an hour’s drive from Phnom Pennh. This sort of thing is not unusual, a tiny plot big enough for a thatch shack owned by a friend or relative. The land is essentially worthless, too small to farm , but it  could provide a just enough  space to build a thatch and wood house where the family could live.  Homes  like this are often just a single large room with no plumbing or electricity. Grandmother estimates that the cost of materials and building would be about   $ 300, so she is asking us to consider advancing that money   to her to build the home.

There is a garment factory nearby this plot  of land and the idea/hope  is that the granddaughter could get a factory job with starting wage of about $ 150. This wage combined with the food support we provide of about $ 70 per month could keep  the family  on track.

Concerns

We are concerned that the costs of building the house may be higher than estimated. And of course, while we hope Grandmother can live many years longer, the reality is that there is the extremely serious  problem of how to care for the grandson when Grandmother is unable to do so. The granddaughter needs to work and so cannot stay at home . The grandson is a toddler in an adult body and cannot be left alone. Unlike the developed world, there is no social safety net to help the family. 

The reality is that we can only help this fragile family as best we can for a long as we can and we cannot see  a permanent solution. Only  time will tell what will happen.....

We remain deeply grateful to you, our wonderful donors for your kind support as we try to work to address the unique needs of each of our fragile families.

Barbara & Mark Rosasco

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

 

 

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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
$102,419 raised of $150,000 goal
 
816 donations
$47,581 to go
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