A recurring theme in our updates for this program is how we function as the " family for the family" . In simple terms, it means that we are there to lend moral support and guidance for our families. Many of the mothers in our program are illiterate or have minimal literacy. These moms , while loving to their children , are not sophisticated and often not really capable of identifying or evaluating complex situations and resources.
One such family, has been with us for more than 10 years. Ms. S, now age 20 and her family came to us when Ms. S was just a yound child and her father was dying of AIDS. The entire family is HIV positive . Sadly, Ms. S's father passed away, but since that time S, her mother and her younger sister have all been in our program. Both mother and sister have been seriously ill at times over the years, although both are currently stable. S, has taken antiretroviral medications and tolerated them well over the years and has remained well, until about a year ago.
S completed highschool with high marks, in the top 3 of her class and dreamed of being a doctor. After much discussion, her mother felt that she probably could not manage the stresses and strains of such a long education and that in the end, in Cambodia, where there is still great prejudice against AIDs, felt that no one would want to be treated or see by a doctor who was HIV positive , so S set her sights on trying to attend local college and get a business degree.
After completeing 2 years of her program she fell ill, developing numbness in one arm which soon led to complete loss of use in her dominant hand and arm. Doctors in Cambodia were baffled and told us to take her to Bangkok for diagnosis and advised us that unless we did this, she could permanently loose use of her arm. We arranged for the 11 hour bus ride to Bangkok accompanied by an aunt and uncle who could speak some english. The bus ride was a small fraction of the cost of a plane ticket . We then made arrangements with one of our kind Thai friends to coordinate doctor and hospital appointments , accompany the family, arrange for inexpensive lodging and everything else.
Tests were performed but were inconclusive.Treatment was prescribed with an uncertain view as to outcome. S returned to Cambodia where her continued to deteriorate to where she was confined to bed at home in their tiny rooms ,with vomitting and extreme weekness, unable to stand without assistance. Although we feared she could die, she did not. S is a fighter and she held in . Some weeks later we again arranged for another 11 hour ( one way !) trip to Bangkok for more appointments for an MRI and meeting with a neurosurgeon made a tentative diagnosis that there was inflammation around a tumor but that without biopsy there could not be a firm diagnosis but the doctor felt that it looked like a type of central nervous system lymphoma and that a combination of chemotherapy and radiation might be the best treatment.There was no money for a biopsy and the family feared possible damage from such a procedure, so biopsy was ruled out and the doctor suggested a regime of other medications and a watch and wait position. And S returned to Cambodia.
The good news is that S has since improved but the future remains unclear. She is determined to return to try to finish her degree, and her strong will and positive attitude are something to marvel as we all hope for a miracle.
One thing is certain, without the support of Ms. S's " extended family" it is quite likely that we simply would have lost her. We are hopeful that Ms. S will return to full health and return to her studies.
You, our donors, are also a part of the " family for the family" .Over the many years we have had situations where on a wing and a prayer , with scarce resources, we have been able to pull together resources to help our families navigate complex resources and solutions. We are grateful for your continued support .
Barbara & Mark Rosasco
As we have often said, a large part of the success of each of project is its ability to have sustained funding.
You are receiving this project update because you may have, in the past, been a supporter of out program to help indigent mothers impacted by HIV/AIDs to support their chidlren, and we hope that you will again consider supporting this effort as we move toward Giving Tuesday, on December 1.
During the month of December, recurring donations, which can be as small as just $10.00 per month, can receive a one month match from Global Giving. Donations may be made directly to the FSP program here or to our Educate Cambodian Kids Impacted by AIDS micro project , also posted on GlobalGiving.
Since 2000, our AIDS Patient Family Support Program has continued a 15 year effort to protect fragile children impacted by extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS. Beyond the social support that we provide for our current roster of 37 families and approximately 70 children, we provide access to education for the children in the FSP. Social support includes helping with tasks of daily living, such as connecting family with resources, making and attending doctors appointments and a large variety of other ways to help these families more safe and secure. Key to our long term strategy to lift the children out of poverty is our focus on education.
We are proud to say that our strategy works ! In Cambodia where it is estimated that only 40% of Cambodian students graduate from high school and the average educational grade proficiency is 6th grade, we take great pride that our FSP program has children graduating from high school in spite of the giant challenges of extreme poverty and families impacted by HIV/AIDs. We even have a few who have made it to college.
The children all returned to school in October to start their new year. These children benefit from our education program because they can start each year with a new school uniform, a new book bag and proper school supplies and avoid the stigma of being immediately identified as the “ poor kids” at the start of the term. We pay the extra weekly " teacher fees" that are a part of the reality of underfunded public education in Cambodia, as teacher salaries are grossly inadequate. Consequently , teachers assess each student additional " fees" these fees , and depending upon the grade level, the fees can add up to as much as $30 per month for students to receive proper instruction in the public schools. Without the fees, students are not given proper lesson instruction, teachers ignore questions in class and will not provide key information to enable middle and high school students to pass proficiency exams.
Our FSP home care team , visits each family at least once per week, and quite often more than once per week. Our Team in addition to monitoring the general condition of the family, is also tasked with trying to keep kids on track at grade level. In the event that remedial or supplemental tutoring is required or indicated , our program will provide the funds to access these services and monitor progress. . Our strong focus on education has created results over the years, with the large majority of our students passing each year on to the next grade . Many of our students have graduated from middle and high school and we currently have 2 in our college program.
These accomplishments, while ordinary in the developed world, are often " firsts". The child may be the first in the family to achieve any literacy, or the first family member to achieve graduation from elementary school, and for the great majority of our FSP families, the children who graduate from middle school and high school are truly " firsts". All of this requires a slow, consistent and focused effort to help these kids overcome the challenges of living in extreme poverty, illiterate parents and social stigma.
We are proud to say that our efforts over these many years does move these kids forward toward the day when they will step forward and step out of their current situation of inherited poverty. We are deeply grateful to our generous supporters for their long time support and hope that you will again join us in our efforts to help these children.
Barbara & Mark Rosasco
Since 1999, Kasumisou Foundation has provided care and support to the AIDS afflicted poor in and around Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital city. With the founding of our AIDS Patients Family Support Program (FSP) in 2000, we instituted a formalized effort to provide homeless and destitute women afflicted by mid-to-late stages of AIDS with basic housing, monthly food support, and sponsorship for the school expenses of their primary and secondary school age dependent children.
In the early years of our Family Support Program, we did also provide antiretroviral medicines (ARVs, often referred to as the "AIDS cocktail") to some of our patients including their HIV positive children and the HIV positive orphaned children of women who had died in our program.
Thanks to the contribution of free medicines by the UN's Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Cambodia, it became unnecessary for us to provide those life prolonging but very expensive medicines.
We continue to focus on providing the destitute women and children in our program with modest housing, food support, school expenses, basic medicines, transportation to and from medical appointments, and constant counseling and encouragement.
On average and at any given time, our program now serves approximately 35 to 40 AIDS afflicted women and their approximately 70 dependent children. We also continue to serve some AIDS orphans who are the children of women who died while in the care of our Family Support Program (FSP).
A key part of our effort is to provide the children in these families with the skills needed to break the cycle of inherited poverty. Our approach is not only to provide the basics of a stable lifestyle but to maintain a high level of support and encouragement for these children to say in school, strive for academic excellence and introduce them to the concepts of self determination and personal accomplishment.
Since our program began, in 2000, we have cared for hundreds of mothers, and families with their many children. Although many of the mothers who entered our program have passed away, we still have seen the emerging success of many of the children , who without the care and support of our program, would have lived short lives of hopelessness and homelessness.
All of this is possibly only because of the kind generousity of our donors who help us to continue in our efforts.
Thank you so very much for your support.
Barbara & Mark Rosasco
Wednesday, July 15 is Globalgiving.org Bonus Match Day
Since 2000 we have assisted fragile families impacted by the twin burdens of extreme poverty and HIV/AIDs. Often, we function as the " family for family" providing not only social support but also guidance as to how to handle difficult situations. Each family has its own unique needs, and our Family Support Team meets with each family at least one time per week, sometimes daily if needed. Solutions to problems are individualized and sometimes requires a complex overview of what might be available .
We currently have a young member of our FSP who has developed a serious medical condtiom and we have advised by local doctors to seek more sophisticated assistance in Bangkok. Working with our home care team we have , over the past few weeks, arranged for bus transportation to Bangkok ( 11 hours one way) and medical testing as well as temporary housing for those family members accompanying. Now as in times past, we must step in to try to identify the "big picture" and see what might be done to assist the individual and and identify and manage its potential impact upon the family. Unlike the developed world, there is no insurance or socialized medical care for these fragile families to fall back on, so there are times when our oversight can mean all of the difference.
Stable funding is essential because it allows us to support the fragile families in our AIDS support program and help the family to access the medical care that they need and that would otherwise be unavaiable . Sometimes the help is financial, other times it is in the form of providing information and oversight to coordinate treatment. The Bonus Match day is vitally important to our ability to continue to fund our program through the summer months. Without you, our donors, this program would not be possible. As you review our projects, you will see that they are interconnected. As a way to manage scarce resources and funding, we first try to see if we can use existing programs to supplement needs in other Kasumisou projects. For example our education programs for children impacted by AIDS build upon the foundation progam of our AIDS support program.
We would be grateful if you can review our program updates and consider whether you might again join us in our efforts to continue to offer this program to support fragile families impacted by extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS. We have summarized the features of the Bonus Match below.
Thank you again for your kind support.
Barbara & Mark
How Bonus Day Works
Give a boost to your donation dollars ! Your project can earn a 50% match because we are a GlobalGiving 5 Star partner! All donations , of any and every amount, are happily accepted. A $10 donation can become $ 15 and it all adds up!
How it works:
Bonus # 1 : Your online donation using GlobalGiving Gift Cards , credit and debit cards or Paypal can be matched up to $1000 per project per donor.
# 2 Bonus Opportunity ~ $1000 prize for most funds raised by a project
#3 Bonus Opportunity ~ $1000 price for most unique donors to a project.
Go viral and spread the word! Organize your friends and community members to each make small donation ( $ 10) to our project,and put us in the running to win this prize!
Special notice to UK taxpayers: Our projects are now posted on GlobalGiving UK!
July 15 is GlobalGiving’s Bonus Match Day . We will be sending out more information in a few days in our next update.
Using a personalized approach to address challenges
Our photo was taken last year during the graduation day performance at our Champey Academy Summer Arts Camp. Although it depicts a happy scene of children demonstrating the skills which they learned in the camp, it nevertheless reminds us that our program at Champey must aim to provide much more than just cultural enrichment to the children whom we serve.
One of the young people shown in our photo is a young teenager from our AIDS Patient Family Support Program (FSP). Both mother and student suffer from AIDS and have been supported by our FSP for more than 10 years.
Over the past two years the teenager’s mother has developed AIDS related dementia causing the mother to become increasingly neglectful of her child to the point that the teen no longer receives any parental guidance at home . Our FSP team became concerned that this teen, for a variety of reasons was vulnerable to potential exploitation and could become another teenage victim of street life, drugs and prostitution.
Our teams at the FSP and at Champey worked hard to create an individual program to provide a safe and supervised structure for this young person and to provide ongoing adult guidance and at the same time we continue to actively monitor the mother and the situation in the ,home.
We are grateful to our generous donors whose support allows us to continue to assist fragile families like these whose daily is impacted by AIDS and extreme poverty.
Barbara & Mark
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