Education
 Cambodia
Project #12004

Build dreams! Send Cambodian Students to College!

by Kasumisou Foundation
Vetted

Ms. S. has been in Kasumisou programs for many years. Now in her early 20s, Ms. S ( and her family ) have been receiving support from our AIDS Patient Family Support Program. Ms. S  had come  to us when she was about 4 years old, around the time that her father died of AIDS. Throughout her life, Ms. S has faced a series of challenges that most of us would find unimaginable.

Throughout her academic career – in primary and secondary school – S. consistently ranked near the top of her class.   Her dream was to become a physician but, because S. has suffered since birth from serious medical issues herself, her family felt that the demands of medical school would be too much for her. After Ms. S graduated from high school she enrolled at the National University of Management (NUM) where she achieved good results until, early in 2015, when she became gravely ill and began to experience loss of motor control in her right hand and leg.

On the advice of doctors in Phnom Penh, we sent S. and her mother to Bangkok , which was an 11 hour bus ride each way. We arranged for an examination and consulted with a neuro-surgeon at a top hospital there. Fortunately, unlike the US, medical tests in Bangkok were somewhat “affordable”. Ms. S. was found to have a brain tumor in precisely the location of the brain which controls the body’s motion and movement. The tumor was located deep inside the brain where surgical removal would be very dangerous. The doctors recommended that we first try drug treatment, primarily anti-inflamatant, to arrest further growth of the tumor and treat the symptoms. So far, that treatment has halted the tumor’s growth and nearly eliminated the frequent bouts of nausea and severe headaches from which S. had suffered. Unfortunately, she continues to have only very limited use of her right hand and some impairment in the use of her right leg.

The tumor diagnosis came in the Spring of 2015 and, at that time, a decision was made for S. to suspend her studies at the NUM and focus on her treatment.

Ms. S is a person with considerable determination. After just a few months of treatment, she was able to return to her part time job at our Champey Academy of Arts where she does primarily accounting work but also greets the tourists who visit the school, explaining to them the mission and program of instruction at Champey Academy and sharing with them some basic information about Cambodian traditional arts.

 A second chance

The more than one year which S. spent dealing with her cancer gave her time to reflect on her academic career and future career goals . With input from her family and our team, a decision was made for S. to pursue a degree in English language and literature with the goal of eventually becoming a professor of English. To achieve that goal, S. needs to gain entry into Phnom Penh’s distinguished and highly selective Institute of Foreign Languages.

 With that interim goal in mind last autumn we enrolled S. in a rigorous program of English language instruction at Phnom Penh’s most respected English language school, the Australian Centre for English (ACE). In January, S. completed her first term at ACE with an aggregated score of 79 out of a possible 100. Her final individual grades showed her to be especially strong in reading and vocabulary but with some room for improvement in her writing and speaking ability. We intend to look for opportunities for S. to get additional practice and possibly outside tutoring to help her improve both her speaking and writing abilities while she works to complete the remaining five semester levels of instruction at ACE.

We fully support S.’s decision to pursue a degree in English language and literature and her ultimate goal of becoming a professor of English.   We believe this goal is very much aligned with her abilities and her personality and we hope to have the resources to help her achieve her dream.

Your help and donations help students like Ms. S to build their dreams, even dreams  that may at times seem impossible.

The students in our program have all had to overcome remarkable challenges to pursue their goal of a college education. How wonderful that having done so, we can be a part of their success by helping with tuition and other assistance.

Thank you so much for your support!

Barbara & Mark Rosasco

Ravun ~ October 2016
Ravun ~ October 2016

 

 

 

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration” . Thomas A. Edison

Education can be a slow and steady process. We are so pleased that we have been able to provide the opportunity to our students to work toward their dreams of obtaining a college education.

All of our students are financially vulnerable and they receive little or no financial support from their families. Simply paying for tuition and books would not be enough to help these young people achieve their goals, so we also provide most of our scholars with part time work at our Champey Academy of Arts . Four of them – two boys and two girls – sleep in the classrooms there at night to avoid the considerable expense of renting a room in Phnom Penh.

Genius in our midst…..

Our update today will focus on the inspiring story of Ravun, one of our students. Ravun , age 20 is a Food Science major , she is now in her 3rd year at the Royal University of Agriculture. Her goal after graduation is to work in a lab.

Ravun has a long history with Kasumisou Foundation, more than 15 years. We have known Ravun since about age 4 as her mother was a member of the first generation of our Aids Patient Family Support Program patients. Amazingly, Ravun’s mother is still with our FSP program and although she is medically frail, she works as a cleaning woman for an expatriate family in Phnom Penh. She is currently nursing a broken arm after a fall from a motorbike. Our FSP stressed education and Ravun was always strongly encouraged to attend school, advice that led to a series of graduations: elementary school, middle school and eventually high school. An exceptional and determined student, Ravun joined our Kasumisou Scholars program at age 17.

Ravun lives at home in a small apartment with her mother in central Phnom Penh. Ravun suffers from a congenital handicap where her legs are uneven in length, which causes her to walk with a severe limp. Despite this challenge, Ravun bicycles to attend University classes every day. The bike ride to the University, which is located outside of Phnom Penh near the Killing Vields, is a considerable distance from the city center . Although we have not measured the exact distance Ravun rides, the distance is about a 45 minute drive by car each way.

Ravun is exceptionally motivated young woman who has a clear vision of the career path that she wants to pursue. This photo, taken just this week , shows a capable young woman, who although faced with daunting life circumstances has chosen many times to pursue success although facing considerable odds. Cambodia is a country where it is estimated that only 40% of all students even attend high school. Rather than just give up and “ accept fate” Ravun has instead chosen to take a path of pursuing excellence and achievement. We cannot yet predict the full extent of Ravun’s future accomplishments, but we are confident that in the context of Thomas Edison’s quote, that “Genius” is in our midst.

The new school year has started and at present we still have 6 students in our program. Several students our original 11 students have now graduated and we are so proud of their achievements.

The generosity of you, our donors, has provided students like Ravun with an opportunity , that but for your support, would have been an impossible dream.

On behalf of our students, we extend our heartfelt thanks to our wonderful supporters and we hope that you understand that your donations and continuing support can   truly make a difference in the lives of these young people.

Consider for a moment, all that you have accomplished together, so far..... 

 

Barbara & Mark Rosasco

Kasumisou Scholars - Hun
Kasumisou Scholars - Hun

Old Proverb: Give  a hungry man a fish  and you  feed  him today. Teach   him to fish and he can  feed himself  for a lifetime.

Important info

  •  USAID website shows only 21% of  students even enroll in high school in Cambodia.
  •  Lacking education, low skilled, migrant day laborers  often earn just $ 3.00 per day in Phnom Penh,  Cambodia’s capital city.

The Magic Moment – Update on Kasumisou Scholars

We love our college program, Kasumisou Scholars because of what we  call the “magic moment”.  This is the moment  when the years of hard work and study , hope, despair, encouragement and  sacrifice all  come together to produce a new college graduate.  Our college students, at every turn, have  faced incalculable odds against their success. Yet, here they are, one by one, reaching  that “ magic moment”,  where success has arrived, breaking the cycle of inherited poverty.  Their accomplishments are truly  cause for celebration!

Meet Hun: our  newest candidate for college  graduation .

Hun entered our college program in 2012 at age 19 and came to us from  rural Prev Veng Province, Ba Phnom Province.

Hun was one of four students in our college program to come from Ba Phnom High School  arts program’s first class. Like the other students, a combination of dogged determination, courage to try new things and hard study propelled Hun forward to college and our Kasumisou Scholars program.

Hun’s family are subsistence farmers of very modest means. None the less, Hun proved to be a determined student and not only completed high school  but distinguished himself by actively  participating in what would become an  award winning student arts program that we sponsored at Ba Phnom High School. In 2011, Ba Phnom’s art program took first place from over 100 groups and was awarded Best Youth Khmer Arts program in Cambodia in 2011 by Prime Minister Hun Sen.  Hun was one of about 40 students in the high school who participated and studied   traditional Cambodian dance and music

Hun and other students, through the arts program, were also encouraged by us to engage with their community and  Hun joined a green initiative organized by Kasumisou Foundation called Green Champions. Several of the arts students helped plant thousands of tree seedlings along a one-kilometer stretch of barren, but regularly trafficked road connecting Ba Phnom town to more rural areas. Months later, hundreds of the tree seedlings  had survived because of our students’ diligence and hard work and today the trees are tall and green, providing needed bio mass to enrich the soil and offering a gift of cooling shade to travelers along the road.

As a participant in the Kasumisou Scholars program, Hun entered Norton University, a private university in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to study Business Management in 2012.   Once enrolled, Hun lived at our Champey Academy arts school, sleeping  in a classroom with another student because he was unable to afford to rent a room  and he earned a stipend of about $100 per month  doing odd jobs for the school  to cover all of his personal  costs including  food, clothing and transportation.

Now, nearly 4 years later at age 23, Hun is waiting for the  results of his exams. Hun  hopes to utilize his business degree, having set his sights on a job at a microfinance firm where he expects a starting salary of $ 150 to $200 per month.  Hun will continue to stay at Champey  for a year or so in order to save the $50 per month a rented room would cost and establish some financial stability.  He hopes to join another Kasumisou Scholar graduate, Lean Yu, who having already graduated from college, works at the same firm.

Our deepest  concern

We just hate the idea that the fate of our  students, like Hun,  rests entirely upon our fundraising ability and timing of receipt of donations. Donors and supporters are an ever changing group, influenced by personal and global events.  Like many small non-profits,  we  are challenged by the need to continuously raise funds  and we operate month to month. Before September 15, we will  need to pay about  $2,500 in  tuition bills and others later in the fall.  Basic tuition costs  per student varies, based upon type of program and institution, currently ranging from about $ 400 to $ 800  per year.  Over the years, there have been many times where we have  come right to the very edge of having to cut some of our programs because we cannot spend funds we do not have.

The best solution is to encourage  broader support that can help us  create better funding  stability and ensure that  our student’s can continue to move forward to achieve their dream of a college degree.  Clearly, our program is achieving results. Hun will become our 5 th college graduate from Kasumisou Foundation program's  students. Your support  can help our other  college students   to move   toward  that “ magic moment” and encourage others to begin their journey.

Our sincere thanks to our donors who have helped Hun and our other students to strive toward and achieve their dreams of a college education. Truly, your support is changing lives. We hope that you will continue with us in our efforts and encourage your friends and families to join you in support of our efforts.

Thank you,

 

Barbara & Mark

Archive Photos - Kasumisou Scholars Application
Archive Photos - Kasumisou Scholars Application
Green Champions Tree Planting Project 12-2015
Green Champions Tree Planting Project 12-2015

Sometimes opportunity can be a matter of luck and sometimes seizing an opportunity is the culmination of years of quiet hard work and persistant  effort. This persistance and quiet hard work has now paid off for one young man.

Yu, age 22 , is one of our college students. He  graduated in 2012  from Baphnom District High School in rural Prey Veng Province. He is currently studying for a degree in business at Human Resources University in Phnom Penh and until recently,  he had been working part time as an instructor in traditional dance at our Champey Academy of Arts.  To save on his living expenses, Yu has also , for  the past 3 years,  been sleeping at night in the classroom at our arts school , as do several other of our scholars from Prey Veng.

Now in   his 4th  year in college, Yu has landed an accounting job at a small microfinance company  in Phnom Penh, putting him a step closer to pursuing his dream of becoming a banker. His new salary ,  $ 150 per month,  allows him to be able to afford to live more independently and have modest housing outside of the dance school while he completes his degree.

Most importantly, Yu's  college courses have provided him with a set of  marketable skills, enabling him to complete the  big step from a life of rural poverty into the professional life of the middle class.

 Your support of our Kasumisou Scholars, allowed Yu to access a college education and this opportunity   has helped Yu to help himself to break free of the cycle of inherited poverty.

Our congratulations to Yu on his success and our thanks to you, our donors, for making this all possible.

Barbara & Mark Rosasco

Getting accepted into college is a great accomplishment , but paying  college tuition  is only a part of the challenge for our students. Our  college students come from extremely poor families and some   are also impacted by the dual challenge of extreme poverty and the impact of HIV/AIDS in their immediate families. Within this context, it is amazing to consider that our  college students have for years  , despite formidable challenges,  set and achieved   annual goals  such as  completeing a year of school,  passing exams to move upward to the next class, graduating  from grade schoool, middle school and then high school . Keep in mind that it is estimated that only 40% of all Cambodian students finish high school and the national educational average is thought to be 6th grade.  

However, regardless of the breathtaking accomplishments of our college age  students to become "college ready" , the simple fact is that they come from families  who are just too poor to help  them with any  aspect of paying for a college education.

Tuition , books, supplies and transportation  can run from $ 400 to $800 per semester in Cambodia.  Beyond those costs,  our students also need assistance with housing, food ,and   small personal expenses which can average  $ 100  or more per month per student.

.As a small non profit, we are closely involved with our program participants and sometimes we are able to harness the power of  one  project to benefit more than just the  group initially intended. Pairing our College program with Jobs for Youth is a great example of this.For some years we have run our Our Jobs for Cambodian Youth program  side by side our program to help our  college students to access the college education they have strived to reach.   

Our Jobs for Cambodian Youth program has become a key " success link" for these students,  providing  vital employment income to several of our college students  who are employed in various capacities at our Champey Academy of Arts project.

A central theme to all our programs is a focus on the power of  education.Indeed, education and mentoring  are key to helping children  mired in the hand to mouth  lifeftyle of poverty,   see that  bettering their lives is possible. The benefits of employing these college students goes far beyond the income that the jobs provide as their accomplishments also position them as peer mentors for  the disadvantaged children who participate in our Champey Academy's art, dance and music programs.  It is staggering to consider the impact that some of these kids must feel when they can see that  their  peer  mentors are actually  in college  and to realize that one day, that could also be them !

Your support has allowed us to pay for tuition and books for our students and  create one more " success link" in a chain of actions needed  to  enable these young people to continue to move forward in achieving  our main goal for them of helping them to break the cycle of inherited poverty.

Our heartfelt thanks on behalf of all of our program's participants for your past and continued support.

 

Barbara & Mark Rosasco

 

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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
$32,511 raised of $99,000 goal
 
147 donations
$66,489 to go
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