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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