It is a considerable challenge to write an update for our Rural Assistance Program.
Our April report detailed how the COVID 19 virus had created severe travel restrictions that made it difficult to run this program without the assurances of high levels of close supervision and staff support. This has always been a critical element of our program and one of the main reasons that we have been able to achieve so many of our goals over the past 20 years. At the present time, unlike our programs in Phnom Penh , we do not have locally placed staff in the countryside that are of the caliber needed to oversee the operations of the entire program. Although this has always been a challenge, Mark’s frequent on-site visits tonreview our projects were essential to insure efficient use of our limited resources.
Cambodia still has strict travel restrictions. At the end of April Cambodia was closed to entry by Americans and Europeans, making it impossible for Mark to visit. Consequently, we reluctantly made the decision, to suspend, for the time being, further operation of our Rural Assistance Program. Now , as then, it is our assumption that this suspension may last until the end of calendar year 2020.
Our decision was based on the following factors:
1) Donor funds could not then, nor now, provide funding adequate to maintain the program at its necessary levels.
2) In the US and Japan ,where most of our donor base lives, the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis has combined with weather extremes - ranging from typhoons, hurricanes and most recently , wildfires in California to create urgently competing needs for donor funds.
3) Consequently, we feel that we have no choice but to continue the suspension of our program’s operations as we wait to see how things develop.
We are disappointed that this is where we find ourselves, but we feel that we have no choice but to continue our suspension through year end as we evaluate what might be possible in the new year. We will keep you posted on any updates as they occur.
We are deeply grateful to you, our donors , for your generous and long time support of this program. It is our sincere hope that we will be able to move forward in 2021.
With heartfelt thanks for your understanding,
Barbara & Mark Rosasco