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.
Jul 2, 2014

Phannin Learns the 3 R's: Reading, Writing & Restaurants!

Phannin went from 60% literate to #1 in her class!
Phannin went from 60% literate to #1 in her class!

School’s out for summer, but not for the hard-working students of Lotus Outreach’s Non-Formal Education (NFE) program! NFE has 100 young women enrolled working to escape sex-work by learning basic skills like literacy and numeracy, and we have 30 more learning advanced skills like sewing, food service and cosmetology.  These young women are capable of so much, just look at our student Phannin.

Phannin is a twenty-one year old student receiving advanced skills training from the NFE program. After working at a number of Phnom Penh’s beer gardens and infamous “karaoke” brothels, she has finally found a way to build a healthy life, and your support is making that happen.

As a child, Phannin managed to stay in school until she had advanced to the 8th grade. Because her family was so poor, she was forced to begin working at beer garden restaurants in Phnom Penh at the age of 17. Waitresses at these venues are often considered as available for sale as the food items, and the restaurants are frequented by tourists and Cambodians alike. For her work she was compensated only US$35.00 per month.

By the time Phannin was making a comparably decent wage, she was being worked almost to exhaustion. At a Karaoke Bar in Takeo Province, she was placed as a supervisor and made US$100.00 per month. There she was forced to accompany customers day and night and imbibe as much alcohol as the patrons wanted. The work and constant alcohol consumption gave Phannin a chronic stomachache for which she had to quit her job and seek medical attention.

She moved in with a friend while recovering from her stomach problem, and it was then that she encountered Lotus’s NFE program. Staff from the program explained how the program allowed a flexible schedule for her to learn the most useful subjects to young, adult women like her. The opportunity was compelling, and Phannin decided to sign up!

Before attending the program she was only semi-literate and did not understand basic math like division. Now she number one in her fifteen person class.

Phannin spends her time reading borrowed books and magazines from the school’s library, and she is even planning for her future. After reading a book entitled “Getting Rich Fast,” she has cut down on spending money hanging out with friends, and now she’s saving money for the future.

“Now I’m even teaching my friends about financial management and how they can live to be healthier!” she reports.

After she finishes her skills training, Phannin wants to start a restaurant of her own where she’ll work on her own terms. Phannin is enrolled in a class at the Food & Beverage Center where she studies restaurant management and service skills. Her father works for a tourism company and says that he will help by bringing customers by her restaurant.  

Please donate to support Phannin’s amazing work. Many more women are still forced into the degrading industry of sex-work. $170 pays for a girl’s education for an entire year. Please support these promising young students and entrepreneurs as they work to improve their lives and communities!

Students wearing beautiful dresses they made!
Students wearing beautiful dresses they made!

Links:

Jun 30, 2014

An offering of rice from an ancient tradition

Sony, her mother and her dad.
Sony, her mother and her dad.

Phnong Education Initiative student Sony lives among a cluster of 8 families in a remote village of 100 people. Her family home has walls of split bamboo and a corrugated tin roof which is beginning to rust. There is no documentation by the government that the 1.5 hectares of land they utilize belong to them, instead they are entrusted with the land by the head of their village.

Sony explains her academic goals, “I’m now standing between 8th and 12th in my class of 53 and I want to do better! On weekdays I attend school while staying at the dormitory at Oraing under support from Lotus Outreach. I come home here on weekends and help with farm work.” She then adds, “My plan is to stay in school until I complete year 12 and then work for my community employed by an NGO.”  

Sony has modern aspirations, but Phnong cultural conventions pervade her family’s daily life. As indigenous minorities to Cambodia, they speak the Phnong language, practice animism, and are highly superstitious. Four hours before we arrived, Sony’s older sister had given birth to a baby boy; her only medical assistance in the effort was the offering of a small hen and a vase of rice wine by a shaman midwife. Thankfully the birth took only four hours, and both mother and baby are healthy.

Living as they do, so isolated from modern Cambodian society and government, they are vulnerable to a variety of dangers. Illegal logging has plagued their ancient and sacred forests. Land-grabs by private companies have displaced many villages. The people are offered no services or representation by the Khmer government, and there are no public schools which speak Phnong.

Education through the Phnong Education Initiative can help these people avoid the dangers and difficulty imposed by outside society. The program provides primary learning to them in their own native language, teaching many children to speak, read and write Khmer; they also learn basic math and history. This basic learning will prove invaluable to the program’s 31 students as they strive to move forward from a position of severe marginalization.

In addition, 20 young Phnong people are being trained to be teachers to others through the Phnong Teacher Training Center.  After a two year course, the young students receive their certification by passing an exam at the Mondulkiri State Capital.  They then return to their home villages and pass the gift of education on to younger generations.

Sony’s family prepares rice for us via a traditional method, steaming it inside a hollow bamboo shaft over a bed of coals. The simplicity and honesty of such an ancient method is striking, and it seems a shame that people so generous and good could be left at risk of the societal dangers impending from outside their forested village.

With your contribution of $20, we can provide an entire month of teacher training to an eager Phnong student. Through the power of education, Sony and her family can preserve their traditional lives while being more empowered to fight the forces of marginalization working against them.

Thank you for supporting the Phnong Education Initiative!!

The midwife
The midwife's offering to assist in childbirth.

Links:

Jun 16, 2014

Morokot's Wish-Fulfilling Bike!

It
It's "V" for victory for Morokot!

Morokot is 12 years old and the third daughter of a family of four siblings, one boy and three girls. She lives at the Krang Angkrong Pei village, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Morokot studies in the sixth grade at the Cambodian Volunteers for Children and Development Kork Khleang Pei Primary School, at the Kork Khleang Pei community. Her father, Savorn, is 69 years old and works as a tuk-tuk driver. Her mother, Chan, is 48 years old and works as a food seller.

Sien’s family is very poor. In 2011, her father had a traffic accident and broke his right arm. Since then he's in pain and can no longer drive the tuk-tuk for as many hours as he did before. He drives people in his community just to nearby places and hence is only able to earn an irregular income. Sometimes he can make US$2.50 per day, but sometimes nothing at all. Since the accident, the family’s situation has become increasingly difficult. They had to take a loan from a microfinance establishment to start up the food-selling business. And their oldest daughter, Silen, had to drop out of high school to work in a garment factory to help support the family and repay the loan.

The family now thoroughly depends on the mother’s and Silen’s income. The mother can make around US$5 in profits from her business per day and Silen earns US$120 monthly. However, they still struggle to make ends meet and cover the house rent, paying back the business loan (US$20 per week), purchasing pain medicine for the father, water and electricity costs, and schooling for three children.

In the midst of the family struggle, Morakot tries to stay focused on her studies. She loves reading Khmer literature. She tries to study hard. However, at the beginning of this academic year, her school performance was being negatively affected by the fact that she had to walk 2 miles to school, as it impacted her ability to get to school on time and regularly.

Morokot’s luck changed when she was selected as a Lotus Pedal recipient in April 2014. Here is how she describes the impact the bike has had in her life:

Before getting the bike, I had to walk 2 miles on a road to get to school. Since I had to help around at home in between school and had to walk that far, I sometimes got to school late. Sometimes I had to miss school. And most of the time I felt tired when I got to school and couldn’t concentrate on the lesson. This had a very negative effect on my school performance. I came 15th to 20th in the class then. After getting the bike from the program, travelling to school has become so easy. I now arrive on time and am able to pay full attention in class. My school performance has improved too! I rank between 4th and 11th now!

Thanks to Lotus Pedal, Morokot now can ride her bike to school. Having the bicycle makes a big difference on her ability to attend class, be attentive, and ultimately on her ability to complete her studies. Morokot is deeply grateful to the Lotus Pedals program. She is determined to study hard and pursue her aspiration to become a doctor.

Morokot and her family wish the best of luck and great success to all the donors who so generously supported Lotus Pedals! We at Lotus Outreach second their best wishes!

Determined Morokot
Determined Morokot

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