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.
Oct 9, 2012

Meet Munni from West Bengal

Munni at class
Munni at class

Ten year-old Munni’s story is typical of the hundreds of children that benefit from the Education Scholarships for Child Laborers project in rural Haryana, India. Last October, Munni migrated with her parents and two siblings to Mewat’s brick kilns from West Bengal, a poor state in eastern India. Before coming into contact with the program, she and her 11 year-old brother Raju worked long days alongside their parents in Mewat’s brick kilns—often as late as 11PM. Poor and landless, the family has only shallow roots in their home village. When we asked Munni where she was from, she didn’t even know the name of her village and shrugged, “Bengal?”

Last fall, Raju and Munni took notice of the other children from the brick factory compound that were riding to school each day instead of working. Though they pleaded with their parents to join the bus and enroll in school, the parents declined. With Raju and Munni’s little sister too young to help meet the family’s brick quotas, their parents felt the family wouldn’t be able to earn enough money to survive without Raju and Munni’s labor.

After nearly a year of pleading, and with both encouragement  and warnings from Lotus Outreach field staff (it is illegal for children under 14 to work in India), Munni’s parents finally relented. Reassured that transportation, supplies, lessons and meals would all be provided for free, they began to see the value of enrolling the children in school, as well as the legal risks in not doing so.

As a result of your support, Munni and Raju are now going to school every day and have near perfect attendance.  Munni is a bit behind the curve and cannot read or write properly yet, but expresses a commitment to getting better and is particularly enthusiastic about the prospect of learning English in school—something she never fathomed back in her home village in West Bengal. Though struggling with her studies and the local language, Munni appears to be a quick learner and has the support and commitment of her teachers.

Munni is still young, but is already dreaming big. Her goal is to graduate high school one day and ultimately do something about other children who have to work in brick kilns. From her experience, she learned that it is far better for kids to be in school, and she does not want others to have to suffer the same fate as she has.

Thank you for giving Munni and her peers hope for a brighter future!

Munni (right) and her peers get school supplies
Munni (right) and her peers get school supplies

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Sep 12, 2012

A year of achievement

Small business grantee Srey Ma
Small business grantee Srey Ma

With your generous support, Lotus Outreach provided loving care to dozens of abused women and girls through our shelter-based counseling project in Cambodia.  Here is just a partial list of our achivements for 2011:

  • Provided 127 victims of trafficking, rape and domestic violence with trauma therapy, allowing them to overcome the ravages of abuse and regain the self-worth and self-confidence needed to successfully rejoin society and lead safe, healthy and productive lives.
  • Our social workers helped 106 clients find housing, employment and/or enroll in public school, paving the way for their futures outside of the shelter.
  • Provided 25 clients with start-up support packages—including food and kitchenware—to aid them in their reintegration into Cambodian society.
  • Provided 26 at-risk and abused young women with small business grants.  Grants were used to purchase sewing machines, establish pig and chicken farms, grow vegetable gardens and more.  By the end of 2011, some of the grantees were already earning as much as $100 per month as a result of the grant.
  • Provided 30 at-risk and abused young women with agricultural training—including hands-on support and bookkeeping assistance—so they could establish pig and chicken farms.
  • Repatriated 21 victims of violence and trafficking to their home provinces, following a comprehensive family-tracing assessment.
  • Established two victim support groups for reintegrated clients and members of the broader community.
  • With moral support and encouragement from the victims’ counselors, oversaw the conviction of 14 child rapists who are now behind bars in Cambodia.

We thank you again for your generous support of Lotus Outreach, and for joining us in the fight again modern-day slavery.  When the world turned its back on these women and children, you stepped in and provided an environment from which courageous, strong and empowered survivors could emerge.

Warmest regards,

Erika Keaveney
Executive Director

PS – Want to learn more about our efforts to combat poverty and its consequences in the developing world?  Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter here: https://www.z2systems.com/np/clients/lotusoutreach/survey.jsp?surveyId=6

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Aug 21, 2012

"I never dreamed that I would go to school again"

Sangita, with her proud grandmother
Sangita, with her proud grandmother

My name is Sangita and I belong to a lower-caste family in Bhanguri village. After I passed grade eight in 2011 from Aharvan School, my father and grandmother asked me to stop going to school as it was not safe to walk three kilometers through the village of upper-caste people, as they generally do not like girls from lower-caste families going to school because it challenges their supremacy. I had no option as I could not object to my parents' wishes. I felt very bad when I saw girls from upper-caste families going to private schools in buses hired by their parents.

I had to stay home for a whole academic year until one day, my friend from school told me that one NGO is providing transport to the girls from Muslim families attending Aharvan School. I had no idea how to approach that NGO and I am not Muslim too. My friends at school helped me and one day I met the representative of Lotus Outreach, who was providing transport. I was very happy to know that the NGO was going to add more girls to the bus and I requested them to add me to the list.

Lotus Outreach was going door-to-door to identify girls who were supposed to drop out after grade five, as our village has only one primary school and so the girls must drop out once they reach grade six because parents won’t let 11 and 12 year-old girls walk alone to a distant school. Lotus Outreach found 40 girls in our village who either dropped out last year or were scheduled to drop out this year after passing grade five.

I was lucky to get a seat on the Blossom Bus and was enrolled again and returned to school. My grandmother initially felt uncomfortable, but when she was informed that over 150 girls are travelling on the Blossom Bus which has been running for three years, she not only agreed but also handed out sweets to the girls on the bus! My grandmother was even happier than I was, as her sons could never study much because of non-availability of resources, but now her granddaughter can study and become a model for the lower-caste families living in the village.

I am happy to be in school, enjoy the bus ride and enjoy my studies. I hope that I can one day graduate high school and get a good job. I want to study not only for my own development, but I want to help motivate parents of all girls from lower-caste families to go to school too.

Thank you Blossom Bus!!!

Three of 46 girls to recently return to school
Three of 46 girls to recently return to school

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