Year Joined MKLM: 2002
City: Phonm Penh
Project(s): Little Sprouts—Educational Component.
People Served: 50 preschool, 10 teachers, 250 school-aged children.
Project Goal(s): To provide education for poor children, especially those dealing with HIV and AIDS.
Lisa is originally from Framingham, MA. Before joining MKLM in 2002 she lived in Bridgeport, CT, where she was active in St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Diocese of Bridgeport. Lisa is a special education teacher who worked at an inner-city school. In addition she worked with a nonprofit organization working with people with disabilities. Lisa studied at St. Joseph College and Southern Connecticut State University.
Lisa has been working in Cambodia since 2003. Cambodia has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in southeast Asia. Many children have been infected at birth by mother-to-child transmission of the HIV virus. Most of these children are not accepted by local orphanages after the death of their parents due to AIDS. In many cases, these children are not accepted by their extended families.
MKLM started Little Sprouts as a program to provide antiretroviral drugs to save the lives of HIV+ children. The program has grown to 150 children in nine homes and maintains an administration center with a medical clinic, as well as a program for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission. The six field workers are visiting over 250 children who are living with extended family.
Many of the children were close to death when they entered the program group homes. The majority had never attended school because they were too poor and too sick. The antiretroviral drugs brought many back to health creating the need and opportunity for schooling. Little Sprouts responded by creating two daily sessions of a special Pre-school. Currently Lisa directs this school and all of the program’s educational activities. The Preschool has also accepted children from the area who do not have HIV but are very poor. It also serves a model for other preschools in Cambodia. An average of one group a week comes to visit with the idea of learning how to start their own school. In addition, all of the children in these programs who are school age are enrolled in school.
Lisa’s teaching skills have been essential in being able to respond more integrally to the needs of children impacted by HIV and AIDS.