Back to School Days at the FSP
Mark is on his way to Cambodia tomorrow. It is “Back to School” time for the kids in the FSP. This Fall, 88 students from our FSP will return to school at the end of September . We have a record number of students in High School this year: 19 students in grades 9 ~ 12. This is wonderful! It is rare even for middle class Cambodian students to complete high school, yet we have 5 students from FSP's fragile families who are Seniors this year, on track to graduate in 2013.
I would like to introduce you to one of our High School students, Reaksmey ( pronounced res may ) . Reaksmey is 21 and she is on track to graduate in 2013. You might want to ask me what is so great about a 21 year old High School Senior??? Please, let me tell you Reaksmey’s story.
About Reaksmey- an 8 year journey to success in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
About 8 years ago, when Reaksmey was 13 , she, along with sister Melia age 5, brothers age 15 and 11 and their mother joined our FSP program. A single mother, Pich Srey Mom , had AIDS and had no money to feed her 4 kids.
The situation was dire. They lived in a little 2 room shack made of scrap wood which was shared by an uncle who was dying of AIDS. We gave Mother money for food and we paid school fees. After Uncle died, Mother became very sick, so Mother and her 4 kids moved in with an Aunt’s family. About 4 years ago, Mother had a severe stroke, leaving her paralyzed on one side. Aunt’s family could not care for her, so Mother went to live at the Home of Peace AIDS Hospice.
Although a good student, Reaksmey had to drop out of High School to care for young sister Melia. The 4 children continued to live at Aunt’s home. We paid for food for the kids and for Melia’s school costs. Elder brother soon left - he got a job working on a farm. Shortly after this, Aunt’s husband told the girls to move out. Middle brother could stay if he earned his room and board in Uncle’s tiny metal working shop.
Kasumisou Foundation Family Support Progam ( FSP) stepped in. We rent a small room for the two girls. The two girls’ entire possessions fill just a single laundry size basket. We pay for food , utilities and school fees. We provide active supervision from our Home Care Team. Reaksmey returned to high school! She is an honors student, consistently in the top 5 students in her class. She is also studying English. Reaksmey will graduate from High School in 2013! Younger sister, Melia is now 13 and also in school .
Reaksmey is grateful for all that she has. She “gives back” by working 2 to 3 half days per week as a volunteer for Kasumisou Foundation at the Phnom Penh Municipal Orphanage in the Malnutrition, Therapy and Play room where the most medically fragile children live. She holds, comforts, feeds and plays with the children, some of whom are bed bound and severely handicapped.
Now, age 21, Reaksmey’s dream is to attend college.
It’s been quite a journey for Reaksmey: from a wooden shack to honors student with a dream of college in just 8 years!
The Family Support Program’s long term approach works.
Family Support Program efforts go far beyond providing simple food and shelter. The FSP’s goal is to lift these kids out of poverty through education and social guidance, one life at a time. Your support, your commitment, is what makes this possible. With your help, we can help Reaksmey and others like her , to achieve their dreams.
Our annual budget for the FSP which serves 75 families and 125 dependent children is about $ 110,000 this year and it is challenging to raise these funds year upon year. We are grateful for donations of all sizes. It all makes a difference.
Thank you for your continued commitment. Your generous support is what makes all of this possible.
Barbara and Mark Rosasco
PS Please help us to spread our story by asking your friends to link this site or our kasumisou.org website on their social networking sites.