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

Mark is on his way  to Cambodia to visit all of our programs, including  our  AIDS Patient Family Support Program. When we first started to post our projects on the GlobalGiving site, a friend advised me that the title of our project should be  a call to action that explains clearly what the program does. We took that advice and consequently when we listed our project  on GlobalGiving in August 2009, we chose the imperative of   Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for their Kids, because that is exactly what we were doing.   Now, for more than 20 years, we have helped fragile families, impacted by extreme poverty and HIV status ,live in  an extremely modest life in quiet dignity.  Key to entry into our program was that program members had no access to any other resources of any kind and were utterly destitute. A big  part of the success  of our efforts has been our policy of frequent home visits ( usually weekly, but sometimes more) , of our patient families , which allowed us to focus  of the needs of each program participant. Our update this month will spotlight one of the success stories of our program, whom we will call Ms. X.

There is an old saying that one never knows how another feels unless he or she walks in another’s shoes. We are blessed in that our current home care coordinator can truly say that.  Ms. X joined our program as a program member in 2004  , then about A 28 .  Life had been and was hard and the program really made a difference. Ms. X had lost both her parents.  Ms. X was in porrt health.  She had  not been  a good student, making her work prospects very poor in an already terrible economy.   Perhaps due to the hard life in her childhood, Ms. X only  finished  grade 2 at the government school. Her father  had passed away when Ms.X was a baby and  her mother,  passed away in 1991 when Ms. X was a teen. Her mother had been a farmer in the Communist regime.  Although not a good student in school, Ms. X was motivated to try to improve her life . Despite joining our program, she  wanted to work and  for many years, Ms. X  helped our then home care coordinator Ms. J.    Ms. J , now retired, had  identified Ms. X and another program member  as having potential and  they were recruited  to help  with certain patient work, such as taking patients to hospital  and Ms. X accompanied  Ms. J on home visits for years.

Over the years Ms. X   has continued to work with us and she now works as a  hard monitoring the patient families in our program. Ms. X has a very good idea of the needs  of these families as well as their  living and education costs, having been a program member herself and her experiences during the years when she had helped Ms. J.  Now, Ms. X is employed by Kasumisou Foundation  and over these many years,  she has worked extremely hard to build a life. Ms. X is now  married and she  has three children. Ms. X husband does piece work, making small tourist goods for an NGO and the combined income for Ms. X and her husband  is  almost enough to place them as lower middle class.

The quiet dignity , compassion and hard work of Ms. X helps us to continue to serve the  remaining fragile families in our program and we sincerely appreciate her hard work.

In a perfect world, we would love to see all of our patient families be able to make this remarkable transition, but for now, we are grateful for the hard work and  personal accomplishment of Ms. X and her efforts to help our patient families.

Our program would not be possible without the generous support of you,our kind donors and we are deeply grateful    On behalf of our patient families , please accept our heartfelt thanks.


Barbara & Mark Rosasco

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Ms. K and  9 year old son
Ms. K and 9 year old son

December 3 is Giving Tuesday Match Day ! 

Mark is in Cambodia this week to look in on our programs there. As usual, he is meeting with each of the women in our AIDS Patient Family Support Program. Among those is a 39 year old mother who has AIDS. Ms. K  has an extremely low IQ .   Ms. K has been in our program for many years. During much of her adult life she has supported herself and later on, her son, age 9, by collecting recyclables on the streets of Phnom Penh.

Early this year and without first consulting our staff, Ms. K decided to leave Phnom Penh to go to live with her sister in a province in the northeastern part of Cambodia.  At that point and for several subsequent months she was not receiving our support or being monitored by our staff.

While visiting relatives during the Cambodian New Year holidays in April, Ms. K was raped by the husband of her aunt and Ms. K  is now eight months pregnant. The man does not deny his responsibility but he and his wife refused to provide any support for Ms. K or the baby,  so about five months ago, she returned to Phnom Penh Ms K, once again in the care of  our program.

Ms. K is due to deliver her baby in December and our field staff person has already connected her with an organization which provides free infant formula to mothers who work, as she does, in trash recycling.  This is a real blessing as the estimated cost of infant formula power is about $ 30 per month.

Even now, just one month before the expected delivery date of the baby, Ms. K works at pulling a cart around the streets of the city each day collecting recyclable materials such as bottles, cans, cardboard and scrap metal which she then  sells to supplement the support from our program that she receives for herself and her son.  High blood pressure limits the number of day when she can do such hard work but whenever she feels able, about an average of 3 days per week, she is out on the streets doing the only job that she knows and perhaps the only job that her limited mental capacity allows her to do.

When Mark asked her how she expects to do such work after the baby is born,  Ms. K explained that when her nine year old son was born, she stayed in the hospital for three or four days and then immediately resumed working on the streets, keeping her newborn infant son in the same cart in which she hauls her recyclables. Ms. K explained, that once again, she intends to return to working on the streets very soon after the birth of her new baby.

Of course, our program will now  assume responsibility for making sure that Ms. K and her new baby are safe and that they have what they need to insure that both mother and baby remain healthy.

 The photo that you see shows a house and neighborhood  that is typical of how many of our families live. It rents for $40 per month.  The cart is Ms. K’s recycling cart .

Your generous and kind support  really does make a difference.  It means that we can continue to support fragile families like Ms. K, her son and her new baby  and provide the  educational and living support that is needed  to break the cycle of inherited poverty.

Dec. 3 is GivingTuesday Match Day. GlobalGiving will match donations up to $1000 per donor per organization on  PROPORTIONAL  basis. This means the more we raise as a percentage of total donations, the larger our donations. GlobalGiving will have a pool of $ 500,000 in matching funds.

Please help us to continue our support of this product and to optimize donations with matching funds. 

We are deeply grateful for your support! 

Barbara  & Mark Rosasco

Ms. K, son age 9 and her recycling cart
Ms. K, son age 9 and her recycling cart
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Our AIDS Patient Family Support Program  provide the 18  fragile families who remain  in our program , with  modest, bare bones living assistance.  Determining the amount of  financial assistance  is complex, taking into consideration actual expenses like  rent, utilities food as well as unexpected needs, such a  medical or other family emergency.  Beyond the actual cost factors, we also have to look at the ability of a family or family member to contribute to their living expenses through regular or  occasional work. Budgets overall and by necessity are tight and extremely modest. The monthly total   program costs per family currently range from $150 to $200.  A recent  hospital visit for one program participant  added another $ 130 .

It is now estimated, by our staff on the ground,   that it costs about 10,000 riel  ( about $ 2.50 ) per day per person  for food, which totals about $75 per  month per person. Current  “ official” statistics  estimate food inflation at 3% per year, but numbers like these can often be stated to represent a desired political message that may not reflect the purchasing power of real people.  Program food subsidies  currently range from $50 to $ 70 per household. Our long held policy is that families need to try to contribute to their own support whenever possible, but each family situation is unique. For example, in cases where there is but a single person in the household whose health does not support any sort of employment income, we will determine the amount of  additional support that may be needed. Consequently, we  have  raised some food allowances in recent months  and we continue to evaluate the subsidies that we provide each family in the program.

In memory

We recently lost a member in our program family.   Ms.  S. who had AIDS,  came to us 17 years ago from a Catholic program  in Phnom Penh, where she had been treated for other medical reasons. Ms. S was in her mid 40’s when she passed away. Her numerous health programs did not allow her to work. Our program allowed her to live and die  with simple dignity.  Her ashes have been returned to her hometown in the countryside.

Your kind and generous donations support  the fragile  families remaining in our program to live in dignity in  a modest , simple lifestyle and to assist  them in their final journey at the end of their days.

Barbara & Mark Rosasco

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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.


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

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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


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Organization Information

Kasumisou Foundation

Location: Menlo Park, California - USA
Project Leader:
Barbara Rosasco
Menlo Park, Ca. United States
$135,035 raised of $150,000 goal
1,252 donations
$14,965 to go
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