Lotus Outreach

Lotus Outreach International is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the education, health, and safety of at-risk and exploited women and children in the developing world. Lotus Outreach achieves its mission by supporting effective grassroots projects in vulnerable communities.
Apr 7, 2015

Chhorvan Pursues the Path of Public Service

Chhorvan at work
Chhorvan at work

Chhorvan Pursues the Path of Public Service

This report shows the success of GATEways in shepherding Cambodian women through college and often into their desired professions. This report likewise offers a glimpse into the trajectory of a GATEways scholar after gradutation, living as an independent woman in Cambodian society. In Cambodia, less than 2% of women have education beyond high school. Help us reverse this destructive trend!

 

Many GATEways scholars consider learning Korean so they can get a high paying job in Korea and travel abroad. Chhorvan, however, had other aims. Now at the age of 25 years old, living in Nakachhay village in Banteay Meanchey, Chhorvan graduated from GATEways year and a half ago with a degree in Korean language from the University of Banteay Meanchey.

 

Chhorvan was almost forced to drop out of high school, because her family was extremely poor. But with the financial support from Lotus Outreach and through CWCC facilitation, she was able to finish high school through a GATE scholarship and continue on to study Korean language in university as a GATEways scholar.

 

Chhorvan shared why she decided to learn Korean language: “My house is near a Korean organization. Sometimes I volunteered at the organization to help Koreans with the development of villages such as building houses and digging wells for the poor. I had spoken with them and learned about Korean culture and language and that made me want to learn Korean.”

In the fall of 2014, after Chhorvan graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Korean, she learned from a senior student that Kyung Sin (Cambodia) Corp, an electronic company in Kandal province, needed a Khmer employee who could speak Korean fluently and had computer skills. She applied for the position and had an interview in Korean language. When she applied for position, CWCC helped review the application and provided tips on how to conduct an interview. A day later, she was selected and offered to work as a full-time employee with a starting salary of 200 USD per month.

 

At the same time, Chhorvan also took an entrance exam to be a public servant. Chhorvan desired to work in the public sector, because she believes the benefits of the public sector, though lower pay, are better than the private sector. She said, “I want to work as a civil servant in public sector, because I think that such work is sustainable…. [Also] I can work in the region that I prefer. I wish to work in my hometown, near my family.”

 

Chhorvan took the entrance exam to be a public servant after she saw an announcement that the district hall in Banteay Meanchey was hiring public servants and offering the exam. She said she expected to fail the exam, for it was very difficult, competitive and apparently many applicants who pass the exam are rich applicants who can bribe the committees that select civil servants.

 

After working for three months at her private sector job, Chhorvan received the notice that she passed the civil servants’ exam. She informed CWCC immediately to get career advice on how to proceed. Ultimately, Chhorvan decided to work as an administrator at Ochrov district hall. Now she works there and receives a salary of 130 USD per month.

 

Chhorvan said cheerfully: “I did not think that I having just graduated, that I could get 2 jobs already. I am now proud to have a job in my country with the knowledge that I have learned.” She added that her mother is also happy because her only daughter can work near home and look after her when she’s sick. In addition to her second job in public service, Chhorvan has been accepted to continue her master degree in general management at Banteay Meanchey University.”

 

She deeply thanks Lotus Outreach, CWCC and their supporters for the assistance in helping educate her and further guiding her through her career path.

Links:

Apr 3, 2015

Tailoring Change, Hope and Business

Sophea Sewing in a NFE Class!
Sophea Sewing in a NFE Class!

The following story highlights the power of Lotus Outreach’s Non-Formal Education (NFE) program to alter a Cambodian women’s life. NFE offers incredible educational and vocational services to young girls and women stuck in sex work and harsh labor, in order to give them the support necessary to make profound and impactful changes in their lives and their family’s lives.

Sophea, 31 years old, was born in Roluos Village of Kompong Trobaek District in Prey Veng Province. She is the second of seven siblings. Her father died of cirrhosis when she was 13 years old, so she had to dropout of the 5th grade to move to Phnom Penh to help her aunt with household chores, which included raising pigs and selling groceries in exchange for smalls amounts of money.

After working 4 years with her aunt, Sophea left to work in a garment factory with a basic salary of $35 a month. Five years later she got married to a motor taxi driver and now has one child. Her husband and her have had many difficulties throughout their marriage and have separated twice. He is a gambler, drunk and has had various affairs on Sohpea. He also never is able to give her any money, and thus, having a husband has done nothing to lighten the load. She only decided to take him back, because she didn’t want her child to experience a life without a father like she did.

In 2009, Sophea quit the garment factory due to bad health condition. She then found another job as a cashier in a beer garden; however, two years later the beer garden was closed. She again found herself a job in another beer garden as a waitress, but it was again closed two years later. She kept changing her workplace a few times and eventually found stable work as a hostess at a beer garden near an NFE class in Sen Sok District. She then found out about Lotus Outreach’s NFE program.

She decided to enroll in an NFE class, because she wanted to learn tailoring skills, so that she could change her career for a better life. She is facing a lot of challenges working as a hostess at the beer garden like being forced to drink a lot, which results in many stomachaches and frequent dizziness. She is also afraid that she will get cirrhosis like her father, a disease caused by poor liver. Not to mention she is often approached and harassed for sexual services.

Sophea started NFE English classes and a tailing class on January 14, 2015. She studies very hard and comes to both classes regularly. When she first joined the program, she could read some simple text, but could hardly write. She didn’t know how to do multiplication nor division. Since she used to work in the garment factory, she is picking up tailoring very quickly. She has already made 10 women’s garments and 2 male trousers. She also really likes reading. She has borrowed a life-planning book, a health related book and a magazine from the library box to read.

Sophea plans to buy a sewing machine by the end of this month, so she can start doing her own work at home. Once she finishes the skill training with the program, she would like to run a tailoring business in Phnom Penh with her sisters who are now working in a garment factory.

Sophea is extremely delighted for the opportunity to acquire literacy, numerical and vocational skills. She would like to show her gratitude to the programs and all the donors for reaching out to her and other Cambodian women and girls who need support to make the many dire and much desired changes in their own lives.

Sophea Studying in Class
Sophea Studying in Class

Links:

Apr 3, 2015

Impact on Children due to Global Giving donors.

At the kiln ready for school.
At the kiln ready for school.

FINAL GLOBAL GIVING REPORT – BRICK KILNS KIDS (BKK)

APRIL 2015:

Impact of this program and contribution of Global Giving & GG donors -

Since 2009, Lotus Outreach has been supporting migrant child laborers out of work and into schools through scholarships that provide free transportation and a small stipend in the Indian districts of Mewat and Palwal. Through our initial work in education advocacy, we discovered that hundreds of out-of-state children of illiterate migrants were laboring in the region’s 32 brick kilns. In the area, children as young as five work in horrendous conditions as brick kiln labor and cannot attend school. In addition to being of the lowest socio-economic caste, they were excluded from local government incentives because of their migrant status. Our program has been serving these migrant families by offering their children access to free, secure and consistent transportation to and from school and also a small stipend that has at various times provided such things as school uniforms, shoes, school-books, school bags and pullovers against the bone chilling winters, to ensure their children can stay in school.

With a tremendous amount of support from GlobalGiving donors, we were able to bring 2077 children from 32 brick kilns enrolled in three schools during the five years till date. This program was not only about access to education, it was also a continuous dialogue with illiterate villagers encouraging them to see the importance of educating their children in their efforts to break the cycle of poverty. Our work has to some extent reduced demand for the BKKs bus service that has been decreasing by year from 715 in 2009 to less than 100 by the end of 2014. We also recognise the impact of the Indian national rural work guarantee scheme (NREGA) in reducing migration by providing a minimum level of work for daily wage labor in their home villages.  

We are delighted than instead of migrated with parents, children that would have earlier been working in kilns and are now staying back at home in native villages, continuing their education and helping their grandparents left behind by the family. These children, about 12 years of age and above are now motivated to continue their studies and complete school education which can make them eligible for some skill training and then get a good work. We hope that once out of work at an early age of six or seven, the children develop interest in education and then are able to complete school education as their parents are also supportive and not forcing them to work at early age. We found that migrant parents do not send their kids to schools from the place where as they are considered outsiders and movements of their girl child out of habitation is considered unsafe. 

Great finish to a wonderful program: 

We had 30 students from brick kilns during the academic year after the families came back in November and December 2014. Five of them have graduated from the Primary school of Bhanguri and one of them, Laxmi, will now join our Blossom Bus and continue her education in Aharwan High school. She is hopeful of completing High school and looking forward to a bright future. In her words:

“I was coming to the school for last five years traveling on buses provided by Lotus Outreach and was not much interested in education in the beginning as I thought school would be too tough. Gradually I started learning a lot because of love and affection of our teacher and started loving education and company of my beloved teacher and my friends in school. My Brother Sushil has also graduated and will also join upper primary school in the nearby village. I believe that I will not be working 14 hours a day on the brick kilns to earn my livelihood when I am grown up and married to an educated person. I have also realized that education is necessary for all. Thank You Lotus Outreach.”

And a final thanks to GlobalGiving and donors for making it possible for the Brick Kilns Kids program to assist 2077 children of the most vulnerable families to escape the cycle of poverty!!

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