Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids

by Kasumisou Foundation

Update on AIDS Patient Family Support Program:  Continuing the transition to independent living…

Mark   is in Cambodia where he is  engaged in a detailed  review  of  our programs.  His particular area of focus is our  AIDS Patient Family Support Program  ( FSP) , which helps  indigent families and mothers  impacted by extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS.  

Returning to the heart of our initial mission statement for the FSP  in 2000,   our focus over the past year has turned to identifying those members of the FSP who are  poorest and sickest and  who  have  no means of support.  

Over the years during which  the FSP has been active, we have grateful  that due to the continuing advancement and accessibility of medical treatment to victims of HIV/AIDS, the families in our  FSP have been able to stay together longer. Rather than losing mothers and family members  to AIDS in a few months, medical treatment and medication has allowed many of our families to experience an unprecedented long period of relative stability and   some, while not well, have been able to remain  in our care for several years.

We have been able to achieve our  basic mission of assisting fragile families ( primarily single parent) to stay together   and  live  an extremely modest lifestyle.  Additionally,  our effort and  focus  on keeping dependent children in school has  paid  off.  We not only can claim a significant number of  high school graduates among the  children  who have been members of  our FSP over the years,  but also  several college students and recently  2 college graduates.

Over the past year,   we  have actively worked  to assess  which  families should  be capable, in the short term,   of a transition to independence or  a transition  toward receiving   the support  of their own extended families.   We have identified a number of families  who fit in these categories. Dependent   children have now grown up and  completed school, and in some instances, are able to  earn enough to support the family.  In recent years,  the Cambodian economy has  continued  to recover from the devastation of a civil war now decades past.  The economy has added factory and other  jobs and  shows some signs of continued prospects for growth. We feel that this improved economy should   allow  relatives  to  step forward now  and assume responsibility  or provide assistance to some  members of our FSP.  Now as we approach the end of 2013,  we are actively working to put an action plan in place to move toward this goal.

In recent days,  Cambodia   has unexpectedly experienced  significant  civil unrest  due to a contested national election. This may spill over into areas such as  personal safety which could impact tourism and industry and impact donor sentiment.  Stability has and will be  a key factor  aiding or impeding  our  efforts.

Mark will return  to the US on October 3. After that time we should be able to provide additional updates.

Our sincere thanks to our donors for their generous support. 

Barbara Rosasco


Inside the FSP: Transitioning to independent living

Mark left for Cambodia on June 23 , where he will spend 10 days  reviewing our programs, including the AIDS Patient Family Support Program  ( FSP) , which helps  indigent families impacted by extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS.

From the beginning of our FSP in 2000, the FSP has had a long term approach to keep families together , to prevent trafficking and to keep kids in school . One of the biggest challenges for the FSP is to offer the assistance needed to sustain families while encouraging self sufficiency.    Over the past 3months, we have continued our exhaustive and  careful  review of each family’s current status and  stability as well as their  potential for possible  financial  independence . During that time we identified 8 families who over the past 6 to 12 months are  gradually being phased out of our care, leaving us with a core of about 65 families remaining in the FSP at the present time.  We are please to say that most of those families have now begun their transition towards more independent living.  Much of this is possible because of our long focus on education as an economic enabler for children. The children of our target families  in this transition are now launched into a stable , lower middle class life which means that they are now in a position to provide family support for their mothers.

Periodic  assessments such as these are an essential and  vital  part of the FSP.  They free up scarce resources  and it  honors our commitment to our donors that we will be certain that funds are used, to the best of our abilities.

Mark reviews the status of each family every quarter.  Structure and discipline are applied with  large amounts of understanding, accommodation and compassion.

We are grateful for your support and  it is our honor to  have our efforts supported by you.  We are so pleased with the continuing progress of our families .

Barbara & Mark Rosasco

Inside the FSP: The Important Role of  Reviews and Assessments

Mark arrived home from his recent quarterly  trip to Cambodia on March 13, where he had spent   a week reviewing our programs, including the AIDS Patient Family Support Program  ( FSP) , which helps  indigent families impacted by extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS.

From the beginning of our FSP in 2000, we have taken a long term approach to keep families together , to prevent trafficking and to keep  kids in school to  help to  break the cycle of inherited poverty.   Over the past 18 months, we have conducted an extensive and careful  review of each family’s current status, stability and potential for financial  independence outside our program. During that time we identified 8 families who over the past 6 to 12 months are  gradually being phased out of our care.

Several families  are  headed by single mothers with AIDS who are  now be in a position to resume independent living. These are mothers who have benefited from our support for as long 10 years and who  now have raised, educated  and  proudly  launched their children into a stable lower middle class life.  Their  children, now grown,  are  in a position to care for and support their mothers.  For a few others, we felt  that they should be gently moved out of our programs assistance arena over time for specific reasons.  For example,  one  family was asked to leave due to  a  serious violation of our rules, by  seeking support from two organizations  at the same time without permission from either , or put differently, “ double dipping” .  Another is a  mother who  was removed from our program  because  she ran away after stealing money  from  her neighbors.

We view these periodic  long term assessments as a vital  and natural part of the FSP.  They free up scarce resources  and it  honors our commitment to our donors that we will carefully monitor all expenditures to be certain that funds are used, to the best of our abilities,  optimally and ethically.

One of our mothers recently passed away quite unexpectedly, leaving a 12 year old daughter who was temporarily cared for by other members of the FSP while our home care coordinator worked extremely hard to find a placement in a reliable institution.  We will continue to monitor her situation .  One of our great successes is that our Home Care Team has worked hard  from the very  beginning to foster a community attitude among our families  sharing scarce resources, emotional support as well as help and friendship.

Mark reviews the status of each family every quarter and any decisions that are made are implemented carefully so as not to undo what may be years of slow progress.  Structure and discipline are applied with  large amounts of understanding, accommodation and compassion.

We hope that this progress report has given you some insights into the operation and challenges that we face. We are grateful for your support and  it is our honor to  have our efforts supported by you. We could not do this without you!

Barbara & Mark Rosasco



                                                                  Personal Stories from the FSP

As we look forward to the New Yeaer, it is good to look back at how we have spent our time and whether we have achieved our goals.  One of our goals this past year has been to keep you, our supporters, better informed about the impact that your support makes. 

Each of our FSP patient families faces unique challenges, which for most us, are not survivable.  But somehow, these fragile families manage to continue one, one step at a time.  Our FSP provides food, housing and social support. We are the family to these families, coping withimmediate challenges, yet working toward the longer term solutions. Sometimes the changes which we strive so hard to make, are so slow in coming that we can recognize it only in hindsight. For example, by stressing education as a core value over the years, we now have 19 FSP kids in high school. Sometimes, sadly, despite our efforts, we fail as you will read below about Daria.

We hope that sharing these personal stories will you to fully understand the impact of your support and the challenges of our task. The names have been changed for reasons of privacy.

Our deepest thanks to you all for your generous support! Your support has changed and saved many lives.

Our best wishes to you all for 2013.

Barbara & Mark Rosasco


Personal Stories from the FSP   2012

Randy ( male, age 20): Randy's mother, an FSP patient, died from AIDS about 10 years ago .  Randy suffers from serious mental retardation  and  he has never recovered from losing his mother.  He  now spends his days helping his 80+ year old grandmother sell vegetables in a market stall  in Phnom Penh.  His 17 year old sister attends school with FSP support.  Our FSP continues to help this family with food and pay rent and the  education expenses of the girl. Our goal is that the girl  can acquire enough education or job skills to support and care for her older brother and her aged grandmother in the future. It has been a long slow process, but without FSP support these children would have almost certainly  been trafficked. Instead, we are on the edge of this fragile family achieving financial independence within the next few years.

Mike  lost his brother to  AIDS about ten years ago.  At that time our FSP supported  Mike, his brother ( the breadwinner) ,  their aged mother and Mike’s four children, in total,  7 people.  Mike’s wife had abandoned the children  to live with another man in their neighborhood.  Although  Mike does not have AIDS, he is mentally unstable and suffers from severe alcoholism and is often unable to care for the family. The FSP has carefully monitored  the condition of Mike’s children over the years and  they are all fine students.  Despite the family’s poverty, Mike’s frequent mental breakdowns, his constant fight with alcoholism and the emotional scars left by  their mother’s abandonment, Mike’s children have managed to survive  and stay together. This fragile family and its  children have been kept together because of the support of the FSP, preventing the children from a tragic life of abuse and trafficking. Instead, they are good students, in a family life and a hope for a brighter future.  

Daria  is a 17 year old girl.  About ten years ago,  Daria lived on a sidewalk in Central Phnom Penh along with her brother, their AIDS afflicted mother and their aged grandmother.  We took the family into the FSP.  Daria’s  mother died from AIDS several years ago and since then they have relied on their grandmother and the support of  our FSP.  Daria’s brother is now about 20 years old and he is in grade 6 at school.  Despite his very limited mental ability, the boy loves school and  tries  his best. He has rejected suggestions to change to  a job training course.  Unfortunately, Daria is a sweet girl but  an indifferent student and  sometimes quite careless. She doesn’t have the  determination of her older brother.  Recently  Daria’s carelessness in missing an arranged   job opportunity  to provide badly needed income for the family,  earned her some criticism from her brother and grandmother as well as from our program staff.  To our greaty distress,  Daria has now run away from home to escape any further criticism.  She is now somewhere on the streets of Phnom Penh  and  our team is searching for her. We hope that  our team or her family will find her or she will decide to come home. Phnom Penh is a dangerous place for an innocent teen and we fear for her safety . We do not want Daria to meet  the tragic fate  of trafficking and enslavement which awaits so many teen age runaways and orphans on the streets of Cambodia’s capital.

Your support DOES make a difference!

We are often asked how we know can tell if our programs really make a difference. Sometimes it seems that the changes are so slow as to be almost invisible.

Bit by bit, week by week, child by child, we  help  fragile families in our AIDS Patient Family Support Program stay together, insure that  they  have enough to eat, have access to medical care, and that  the children are safe to survive and thrive. And, we keep the kids in school. The progress is agonizingly slow, but the wait is worth it!   The combined  success of these efforts goes far beyond simple survival.   

This year, 2012 , we saw 5 students  in our Aids Patient Family Support Program graduate from High School and enter college .We were fortunate to find sponsors for that  first year's tuition.  In 2013 we have 6 more students on track to graduate from High School. We have  another 13 now in grades 9 through 11.  This is an amazing result from a group of  just   90 school age in the FSP program. We have another 4 students in a rural project in Prey Veng Province who have also just graduated from High School.

Let's put it in context: Many of the moms in our FSP program  are illiterate and they do not understand the importance of education. This is where we come in.  We get it! We know that just 27% of kids in Cambodia graduate from high school and  only 40% of students finish middle school,  so getting through grade 12 is a big accomplishment ! We have emphasized education from the beginning and now it is really beginning to show results.  Yes! We are so proud of our kids! From " throw away, homeless slum  kid" to high school graduate! Now onward to college student!

The academic success of our FSP students has all been made possible by the generous contributions  of you, our supporters.

Now, we face  a  new challenge ahead:  funding college .  Truthfully, we never planned for it. It was not on our horizon. Yes, we thought that perhaps one or two kids might make it, but 15??

We will need to find 2013  funding for our 5  current college students , plus college funding for 6 more new  high school graduates in 2013 . We also have 4 students from our Rural Assistance  program ( wish serves the rural poor)  who are also dreaming of attending college. From modest rural families, two new High School graduates  are  working  construction for $ 3.00 a day to support themselves. College dreams will be lost unless we can raise funding for these and our other high school graduates.

Though costs are low - about $ 500-$800  per year for tuition and books per student and room and board for some,  it adds up   to a total of 15 college students in all in 2013!

We have just posted a new  project # 12004 , Build Dreams! Send Cambodian Students to College which will become an ongoing program to help our high school graduates and  students realize their dreams and go on to college.

What a journey: from homeless and  poor in an FSP family to college student. Together, we can accomplish such  amazing things and this is a wonderful example!

Thank you  for making this possible for our kids! They are your kids too. Your support has gotten them this far. Let's take them the rest of the way!

Barbara & Mark Rosasco

PS. Please check with your company to see if they will match any or part of your 2012 donations.



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Organization Information

Kasumisou Foundation

Location: Menlo Park, California - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Barbara Rosasco
Menlo Park, Ca. United States
$77,570 raised of $99,999 goal
409 donations
$22,429 to go
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