Help Destitute Moms with AIDS Care for Their Kids

by Kasumisou Foundation
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Seisen student comforts infant at City Orphanage
Seisen student comforts infant at City Orphanage

Behind the scenes at Kasumisou Foundation : How a school service  idea gave  birth to a project

Summer 2011 saw our first ever joint service effort.   Our service  team   partners were  17  Junior and Senior students from Seisen International School in Tokyo, Japan.   We first reported on this in our September 2011 update. 

Seisen International School

In June 2011,  Mark, organized and facilitated  a team of 17 students and 2 Seisen teachers for a  10 day volunteer service program   at the Phnom Penh Municipal Orphanage and  the Home of Peace   AIDS  in Phnom Penh. The  Seisen Service  Team,  paid their own way. Their service work was to provide companionship and individual attention to permanently warded children, with mornings spent at the Home of Peace AIDS hospice ( HOP)    and afternoons at the Municipal Orphanage ( MO)

On the first day,   several  Seisen  students bravely held  back  tears as they came to understand the  medical reality of the  fragile  children with whom they would be working.   Many of the  children  at the MO  are extremely limited in their mental and physical abilities.  All of the children  suffer from some type of serious affliction or disability.  Some of the children are permanently confined to bed. Due  to inadequate funding,   these kids   often receive little attention beyond the  basic custodial care of a diaper change and food. Overworked and understaffed, Staff work burdens do not  include  time for cuddling and holding. The Seisen Service Team provided  a rare treat for these kids  to have the  individual attention of holding, rocking,  or singing that our own children so  easily  take for granted.   Other children at the Home of Peace  hospice and the more mobile children at the Orphanage   greatly enjoyed a chance for personalized  attention, small crafts activities  and games. 

Background

In May 2011,  the European NGO   that had provided much of the funding support for  Municipal Orphanage  said that they must end their  support  after 10 years to  their own funding challenges,   leaving dire gaps in funding for essential services for the children at the Orphanage.

Although Kasumisou Foundation continues have its own serious funding challenges, operating its programs  on month to month budgets. However,  the  dire funding needs for the most fragile children at  Orphanage, caused Kasumisou Foundation to take on the task of providing supplemental support to the Orphanage. We could already see from the success of our Seisen Service Team that we could make a meaningful difference.  We decided to  add the “ Malnutrition Room ” room at the Orphanage,  which  is home to the most medically fragile children who require specialized support for their survival, to our   FSP  project budget. 

 While immensely satisfying, this addition to our program roster is also heartrending: we have lost three of  these fragile  children   in the past 6 months.

Our New Project

Our support for  the Orphanage includes assuming  the salary responsibilities  of the  two full time staffers  who man  the Malnutrition Room 24/7.  Additionally , we feel that human touch and kindness is an essential part of the care of all children, so  we have  recruited 3 of our older teenagers from own   FSP families. These young women  volunteer ½ day of  their time 3 to 4 days per week working to play and provide comfort  through physical contact to the children. Our young volunteers   also serve  as helpers with  diaper changing and feeding  for these and other children at the Orphanage. We pay their transportation costs.

There are currently about 115 children at the Orphanage:  1/3 have AIDS, the remaining children sufferfrom serious medical conditions including Cerebral Palsy, Downs Syndrome and a variety of  severe birth defects. Many of these children  are bedbound and are not able to feed themselves.  Particularly for children with severe CP, feeding can take considerable time.  The total cost of the support of the “ Malnutrition Room “  program assistance is  $ 6,000  to $ 7,000  per year.

Our Service Team Results

The students and teachers who were on the Seisen Service Team returned to school in the fall,  eager to tell about their experience in Cambodia.  The enthusiasm of  the entire  team , both  students teachers alike, created an amazing “ Can do” attitude and a willingness to do their best at each and every task. It was the great success of the Seisen Service Team  that inspired Kasumisou Foundation  to take on the responsibility funding the Malnutrition Room at the Municipal Orphanage and  to encourage our own Family Support teenagers to get involved and  to give something  back to children who are even less fortunate than themselves.

Our sincere and heartfelt thanks to everyone at Seisen International School and the entire Service Team for a great joint project. We cannot think of a better way to start a Service Team program.

Making a connection....
Making a connection....
Patience and encouragement make meals  happier
Patience and encouragement make meals happier
Contentment....
Contentment....
Individual attention is a rare pleasure
Individual attention is a rare pleasure
A gentle touch overcomes language differences
A gentle touch overcomes language differences
Kay
Kay's house is on the right,

FSP in Action and Changing Lives

Mark returned this week from his quarterly trip to Cambodia where he met with almost all  FSP  program families  and

conducted his standard  line-item review of the AIDS Patient Family Support Program and other Kasumisou Foundation programs.  The FSP continues without significant exception or change, maintaining a stable composition of 75 patient families and approximately 120 dependent children.

Its hard for us to explain to our supporters just how great it is to be able to report " no change".  All of our patient families have already endured a great deal of individual and/or  family trauma, so  status condition reports of " no change" and " stable"  are a welcome  relief  and change to patient families  as the trauma that so often impacts the very poor can cause violent shifts in the flow of daily life. 

In this quarterly report, we would like to share the story of  one of  "our"  kids in the Family Support program to show you how the FSP, bit by bit,  really can change young lives. For privacy, we will refer to our young lady as " Kay".  Here is Kay's family history as best we can piece it together.  

Kay's Story....

Kay is one of three children and she is from the outskirts of a "cross roads" town where two highways intersect in the countryside in the county of Kampong Cham.  This town is about 2 1/2 hours away from Phnom Penh, the capital city, by car.    Some years ago, Kay's mother and father both became extremely ill as a result of AIDS, causing them to lose everything and become extremely poor. At this time, with both parents gravely ill, and no means of support,  Kay's mother gave away the older children.  The location of those older children remains unknown.   Kay's father died, leaving just Kay and her mother alone in the family and in desperate circumstances.

Kay's mother left Kampong Cham and , together with Kay, catching rides as best they could,  traveled to Phnom Penh to try to seek medical treatment.  Kay, now 14 years old, came to us  6 years ago when her mother, homeless and  gravely ill from AIDS joined the FSP.  Within a few months, Kay's mother died in the charity ward at the Russian Hospital in Phnom Penh, leaving Kay all but an orphan.  We learned that Kay's grandmother, a widow who  had lost her husband to a brutal death at the hands of the Khmer Rouge during the Civil War years,  was still living  in Kampong Cham.  In recent years, Kay's grandmother had  lived in extreme poverty, surving  only on  the kindness of neighbors.

We made arrangements for Kay to return to Kampong Cham to  live with her grandmother.   Extremely poor and with failing eyesight, Grandmother could not, on her own, afford to take care of or provide medical care for Kay.

Kasumisou Foundation's FSP stepped in and developed a practical low cost plan to enable this tiny family of grandmother and grand-daughter to stay together.  A kindly neighbor in Kampong Cham allowed the FSP to build a  house on their land: a tiny bamboo thatch house, with tin roof and dirt floor was built and became home. The house has a single room.

In the 6 years that Kay has been in the FSP, she has impressed us with her courage and ability.  Kay, herself, has AIDS.  Despite this, she has been the top student in her class for several years.  Her current class in a government run school, is  an 8th grade class  which has  45 students.  Kay is the top student in the class. Additionally, Kay studies English in a group class of 12 students (her class fee sponsored by Kasumisou Foundation) where she is also the top student.  Over the years, Kay's grandmother's severe cataracts have made her nearly blind.  Kay, at age 14, takes care of her 85 year old grandmother and  keeps the household going in the little one room house.  Kay is an honors student in school, top in her class, attends English class and she also works part time in a market stall to bring in money to the family.   In frail health, Kay's grandmother will soon turn 86.  Grandmother has requested that Kay become a ward of Kasumisou Foundation should the grandmother pass away. 

The FSP brings Kay to Phnom Penh once per month by rural taxi ( $ 12) so that her illness ( AIDS) can be monitored and managed. To date, she has remained in good health and has bright hopes for the future.  It is interesting to know that a rural taxi is nothing more than a flat trailer pulled by a motorcycle, or it might also be an opened  pick up truck and once in a while an overcrowded van.  The trip is about 2 1/2 hours each  way.

The long term approach of " family support" by Kasumisou Foundation  makes it possible for Kay to pursue her dream to become a teacher of Khmer ( Cambodian) literature and English.

We hope that this project report will give you a better idea of some of  the many ways that the Kasumisou Foundation AIDS Patient Family Support Program ( FSP) works to help needy families in crisis and to help the children of those families work to break the cycle of inherited poverty.

We are deeply grateful to you all for your generous support.

Barbara & Mark Rosasco

Grandmother, 85, sits inside the one room house.
Grandmother, 85, sits inside the one room house.
Kay & grandmother inside their house
Kay & grandmother inside their house
With beneficiary family Pirron and his grandma
With beneficiary family Pirron and his grandma

Jacqueline Lee is an InTheField Traveler with GlobalGiving who is visiting our partners’ projects throughout Southeast Asia. Her “Postcard” from the visit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia:

My day began bright and early with Juana – the local staff of the Family Support Program for Kasumisou Foundation. On 20 January 2012, I would be visiting several families benefitting from Kasumisou’s Family Support Program (those affected by HIV).

The first family lived in a Buddhist Temple Pagoda. This family consisted of a young boy affected by HIV and his grandmother who took care of him after his mother passed away due to the virus.  I asked her what her life was like before she was taken in by the Kasumisou Foundation – she had been a beggar. Homeless and penniless she took in her grandson after his mother passed and was desperate because he was dying. At a local church they were introduced to Juana and the Kasumisou Foundation, and they were given a small stipend to pay for rent, for food, and education for the young boy. The conditions were she had to stop begging. When I met this family I would have NEVER imagine what they had gone through. She was proud of her grandson’s studies, smiling, and welcoming. I asked what hope she had for her grandson in the future, and she said "for him to finish his studies and become a professional". He responded he hoped the same and loved working with  electronics and electricity. His favorite subject was math. She now has a home, electricity, and with therapy the boy has lived to the age of 15. She sells snacks and candy to the local community.

The next home visit consisted of two young girls who lost their mother due to HIV, so were adopted by their mother’s friend. One wanted to be a doctor “to help (listing everyone in her adopted family, Juana, the Kasumisou staff, and sponsorship family who is paying for her education) for free of charge” and the younger one followed with wanting to be a nurse “to help all of Cambodia”. One loved to read and the other draw. Her favorite thing to draw was.. Angry Birds! I was astonished and had to see the drawings - they were amazing. I told them how kids in the US also loved Angry Birds, and at the end of the visit she gave me 2 of her prized drawings. They practiced their english with me, and showed me some of the dance and song they learned at the Apsara Arts program. These were two beautiful and educated young girls with hopes and dreams. I asked Juana what was the likelihood of them receiving education to become doctors, and she said the hope of Cambodia is for youth to graduate 6th grade, if possible 9th (14 years old), and if they are very talented and have the funding then 12th. It is very difficult to attain vocational or university training here. That did not stop these girls from reaching for the stars. I found out after that the eldest of the 2 girls also had HIV.

The final few families ingrained in me the strength of the human spirit. Sampao had been ostracized by her family when her husband died since she had HIV and separated from her children. She was on her deathbed when Kasumisou took her in and instead of accompanying her to die with dignity, Juana was able to “accompany her to life”. When she never expected to live now she travels with Juana home-visiting other families affected with HIV spreading experience and support. The next family was a mother and son both affected.  All you could see was their joy and strength – she was able to work since she received therapy and he was a naturally gifted artist. The boy was self taught in drawing and painting with beautiful elaborate pictures of whatever he could get his hands on.  The final family’s mother had been blinded by the disease and was supporting her 2 young boys. Kasumisou provided her the opportunity to not have to turn to brothels to make money, but supporting her children through school and allowing her to focus on them. 

My overall impression was that this organization was well-run by a small number of local highly trained and skilled staff that work on the ground and report to the 2 founders. The founders visits every few months with not only staff but every project as a whole. It was wonderful to experience how those involved did not differentiate by age, race, or religion (some beneficiaries were Buddhist, some Christain, some attended all temples to receive support and "live long lives") – it was about providing lives with dignity and breaking the cycles of poverty for future Cambodian generations. Currently, they work with 70 families, 180 children within these families, 4 youth in university, and 3 receiving higher studies/vocational training. Hopefully, the rest of the children will have the opportunity to attain all of their hopes and dreams… and maybe even finish university. 

For more details and pictures about my visit please visit: JacquelineInTheField 

With beneficiary family
With beneficiary family

Links:

FSP  Program Update Fall 2011

Our continued thanks to all of our supporters for making the AIDS Patients Family Support Program ( FSP) possible!  2011 has been an exciting year!

The FSP  continues to support a group of 70-75 families  comprised mainly of homeless mothers suffering from mid to late stage AIDS.  Within this group we care for approximately 125-130 dependent children of whom about 20% themselves are afflicted with AIDS.  We also provide permanent  full  support for 11 orphaned children whose parents passed away in our program some years ago.

In November,2011  Mark  completed his quarterly visit to  Cambodia to review the status of each family in  the FSP  and to conduct a line item budget review with our  FSP program coordinator.  The type of support given depends on the specific needs of each family, but regardless,  the basic structure is that families receive housing support, a semi-monthly food allowance, basic medicines ( not antiviral)  and transportation to medical appointments. When surgery re other major medical expenses are needed, we also cover that. We work to connect our families with various HIV/AIDS support programs so that their illness can be properly managed.

What’s new ?

We have committed to provide modest assistance to the children at the Phnom Penh municipal orphanage – The National Borey for Infants and Children. It is home to 120 orphaned or abandoned children, all of whom suffer from serious physical or emotional conditions. About 30% of the kids have AIDS while others have cerebral palsy, life threatening cancer or  other serious   problems including  autism and severe birth defects.

From January 2012 we will fully fund the room where  the most severely malnourished and handicapped kids live and  which functions as sort of a basic  intensive care room which will insure that these kids get at least a basic standard of care and nutrition regardless of  the chronic unavailability of government funding.

The orphanage is grossly under funded and so  we will also  help out by offering enrichment classes on weekends for these shut in kids and occasional outings funding.

Other things we do in the FSP

We cover school expenses for all dependent children grade 1 ~ 12 in our 75 FSP families. Our current school age enrollment for the FSP  is 91 students and we are thrilled to say that we are also supporting 4 of our long time FSP kids in their first year in university studies !  This is so exciting for us,  4 kids,  who despite incredible odds, have “ made it” to university.

Reaching this achievement is in large part a result of our continuing emphasis on education. Our FSP staff of 5 includes one accredited primary school teacher whose main responsibility is to monitor the progress of each student, help keep the student current on assignments and identify any student who may need extra help or who shows evidence of truancy.

Our school package of support for each student includes a “ school kit”  of two uniforms, a pair of shoes, a monthly allowance for each student to pay his public school teacher the small  daily  required cash lesson fees without which progress in school is  nearly impossible. FSP kids also have enough  to eat- a key part of any educational effort.

Although the primary objective of the FSP is to preserve family unity and assist   women with AIDS the means to survive and care for their children with dignity, our ongoing goal and dream is to help the children to break the cycle of inherited poverty.

It costs approximately $ 125 dollars per month per family when all direct and administrative costs are

We are deeply grateful for your continued support!  Think of it- together we have not only assisted these families and kept them together as families,  but our ability to provide long term assistance and oversight has enabled 4 students from the FSP to reach university.  We have 2 other students who last year also entered university. Put differently, from our universe of about 135 children in our FSP related  care, we now have 6 in university , their tuition  of roughly $ 500 per year per student  covered through  dedicated donations by generous donors.

Together we can make a difference. Our deepest thanks to you all for your continued support of our efforts and our best wishes for a wonderful new year in 2012

Barbara & Mark Rosasco

Mark completed his quarterly trip to Cambodia in June 2011 where he reviewed all operational aspects of the IDS Patient Family Support Program.  Although no significant exceptions were noted,  FSP families continue to be impacted by the effects of high local inflation ( double digits ) , rising rents, rising fuel and food prices and costs of medical care.   Our goal remains constant: to provide comprehensive  compassionate care to mothers and children impacted by extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS , with resources directed toward keeping families together and helping children to break the cycle of inherited poverty.

 

Program highlights:  5 FSP students graduate from high school

 

Great news awaited Mark, where he learned that 5 FSP ( 4 girls, 1 boy)  children had graduated from high school.  Graduation form high school is a commendable achievement in Cambodia, which  only a low percentage of students achieve. It is a remarkable achievement for these four FSP students, who come from backgrounds willed with significant impediments such as extreme poverty and the  impact  that  HIV has had on  their families, such as the loss of a parent, and the remaining parent suffering from HIV.

 

Two children, a brother and sister, are the only two surviving family members of a 5 member family. Both father and mother passed away while in the FSP, as did another sibling.  These two children are original members of our FSP, and represent a wonderful example of how the longer term assistance of the FSP can help children break the cycle of inherited poverty. 

 

The FSP currently supports the education of 88 children.

 

Our  five  high school graduates   have dreams of continuing on to college, with annual tuition costs per student of under $1000 . However, as the average  monthly budget for supporting an FSP  family  is  currently $118 , a college tuition is currently beyond reach unless we can find additional funding resources for these four students. Dreams include studying law and nursing.  Please contact us if you would like to support these efforts or know of financial resources.

 

Other news: Seisen International School, Tokyo Japan Student Volunteers

 

Seisen International School, Tokyo, Japan  sent 17   high school students  and 2 teachers to  assist the FSP  in Phnom Penh, Cambodia  in June 2011 through  12 days of intensive volunteer activities.

 

Students were divided into two groups.  One group of students  volunteered at an AIDS Hospice  and the second group of students volunteered at the Phnom Penh municipal orphanage.  Student volunteers assisted caregivers by providing caring companionship to orphaned,  frail  and bed bound children through play,  singing and individualized companionship and touch.

 

Some student volunteers initially  fought back tears as they learned of  the significant and permanent limitations of frail  and bed-bound children. However,  they immediately took on their challenges  with good humor and great kindness and grace, putting forward maximum effort to make a positive impact. 

 

Although children in these institutions receive care, staff members cannot take time to provide  more individualized personal attention to young residents. For frail and bed bound children, simple touch and companionship, such as is achieved by simply sitting or rocking a child is a wonderful experience .  Our student volunteers were a wonderfully welcome addition to the care team for these children.

 

 Upcoming events:Wild Life Alliance Partners with Kasumisou Foundation

 

The Wild Life Alliance in partnership with Kasumisou Foundation’s FSP, has arranged for  trips for two groups of children to visit a wild life rescue center run by  Cambodia’s Ministry of Forestry.  These two groups of children, 80 students from our FSP and 60 children from the Phnom Penh Municipal Orphanage, will take a bus trips on September 14 and 16  to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center, an area  outside of Phnom Penh, to learn more  about Cambodia’s endangered species and how they can help  to protect them.

 

As always, we remain grateful for your continued support of our AIDS Patient Family Support Program. Together, truly, we make a difference.

 

Barbara & Mark Rosasco

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Kasumisou Foundation

Location: Menlo Park, California - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.kasumisou.org
Project Leader:
Barbara Rosasco
Secretary/Treasurer
Menlo Park, Ca. United States
$74,408 raised of $99,999 goal
 
379 donations
$25,591 to go
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