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.
Sep 12, 2013

The difference a ride to school can make...

Our biggest bus yet!
Our biggest bus yet!

Government schools in the Mewat district of Haryana, India have been highly dysfunctional for at least 20 years. The population is 90% rural and 70% Muslim. While the last decade has seen some improvement in literacy since the 2001 census (when female literacy in Mewat was reported to be less than 3%), the schools are only just coming out of a very dark period in which parents understandably lost their faith in the public education system.

The poor quality of Mewat’s schools is compounded by a conservative Muslim culture and high incidence of violence against women which, when brought together, tends to influence parents to keep their girls cloistered, uneducated, and destined for early marriage. This dynamic is thankfully changing, in large part due to the intervention of the Blossom Bus in concert with our LEARN program, which mobilizes villagers to demand accountability from local education authorities.

Girls travelling to school through the rural countryside face a very real threat of rape and violence. The lack of upper primary schools in each village exacerbates the problem and while we have been lobbying through LEARN for upgrades to full elementary education (grades 1-8) in all villages, many still don’t offer schooling beyond grade five. And if a girl doesn’t have a grade-appropriate school in her village, she simply stops going.

It is for these reasons and more that families in Mewat hesitate to keep their adolescent girls in school, so for the time being we are providing buses and jeeps to ferry girls to and from nearby schools. We now have one big bus with a capacity of 50 girls and two big jeeps with capacity of 20 girls each. All of these vehicles are making two rounds in the morning and afternoon. Jeeps make three rounds each day in the morning and three in the afternoon as one school at Aharwan starts at seven in the morning and closes at 12. All vehicles carry girls from different villages to this school at seven in the morning making two rounds and then carry girls from villages at 8:30 to other schools at Aharwan and Chaisa.

The LEARN program is bringing profound changes to negative attitudes and behavior with respect to education while working deeply within these villages through community meetings, development of School Management Committees, Sports Days, and more. The Blossom Bus is one further component that gives us leverage with families in Mewat and enrollment and retention in higher grades is rapidly increasing as a result. There are now hundreds of girls in grade nine and above from the predominantly Muslim villages in our work area whereas in 2009 – just four short years ago – there were absolutely none. Zero.

We use our local field staff to identify at-risk girls from villages that are somewhat distant from the schools they need to attend. Some of the girls had been in school but would not continue after lower or upper primary (after grade five and grade eight, respectively), and some had dropped out a year or two ago.

All of our Blossom Bus girls are role models and change agents, and continue to actively promote education for girls their communities. Some girls like Afsana — a first generation learner and the first Blossom Bus girl to reach high school–have personally brought a number of girls into higher grades by themselves.

We thank you so much for investing in this project and giving these girls a chance to become model daughters and citizens. To learn more about the Blossom Bus or pledge additional support, please visit http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/the-blossom-bus/.

Blossom Bus girls get back-to-school supplies
Blossom Bus girls get back-to-school supplies
Riding to school in style
Riding to school in style

Links:

Sep 11, 2013

Pedaling the long road to college: Mealea's story

Mealea: bright, beautiful, and born into poverty
Mealea: bright, beautiful, and born into poverty

The profile of 20 year-old Mealea is typical of the hundreds of girls we support through Lotus Pedals in Cambodia, and her inspiring story underscores the extent to which a bicycle can alter the course of a girl’s life.

Survivors of the Khmer Rouge genocide, Mealea’s illiterate parents were forced by poverty and high-interest debt to migrate illegally to Thailand in search of work, leaving Mealea and her five siblings—all under the age of 13—alone to fend for themselves.

Though Mealea struggled to help feed and care for her siblings, she always placed a high value on her education. “When I was in the fourth grade, I started to work making rice wine and feeding pigs,” she shares. “I often got to school late because of those chores and the long distance from home to school. However, my school performance was not bad; I was always among the top 10 in my class.”

Recognizing both her aptitude and her precarious situation, Lotus Outreach began providing Mealea with a scholarship—including a Lotus Pedals bike—in junior high school to prevent her from dropping out. This scholarship not only covered Mealea’s school fees, supplies, healthcare, books, uniforms, bicycle, and lunch money, but provided her with a large bag of rice each month to ensure her young siblings wouldn’t go hungry if Mealea continued going to school instead of work.

We shared Mealea’s pride when she passed her rigorous exams to graduate high school in 2010, and was admitted on a full tuition scholarship to the Vanda Institute of Accounting in the capital. Mealea continues to receive support from Lotus Outreach for her living expenses, food, travel, and school supplies through our GATEways university program, and looks forward to graduating next year. In the meantime, she continues to excel in her studies and has expressed a deep and passionate commitment to helping other children in Cambodia. In addition to studying full-time, working part-time to help pay down her parents’ debt, and learning English on the weekends, Mealea volunteers at her school as well as with the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center. 

“I feel very deep gratitude to the donors for supporting me,” shares Mealea. “When I was sick, you cared for me. When my bicycle broke and I couldn’t get to school, you helped me fix it. You educated me and offered me every opportunity you could. You have been like my parents, and I will not be satisfied until I have been able to repay your generosity by helping others!”

We thank you for clearing the path for hundreds of girls like Mealea to pursue education and contribute to the development of their families, their villages, and their country. To learn more about Lotus Pedals and pledge additional support, please visit http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/lotuspedals.

Mealea (left) on her Lotus Pedals bike
Mealea (left) on her Lotus Pedals bike
Mealea (right) at her university library
Mealea (right) at her university library

Links:

Sep 6, 2013

From High Risk to Higher Education

Loeun Chantha at School!
Loeun Chantha at School!

Hello, my name is Loeun Chantha and I am 21 years old. I was born into a poor farmer’s family in the Roluos Village of rural Cambodia. Growing up an orphan, whose mother passed away at a young age and whose father remarried when I was in grade 7, I was raised by my aging, ill grandmother. Seeing my family struggle to put food on the table, I had made up my mind to drop out of school and risk my life to travel across the border to Thailand in order to find work and support my family. Luckily, around the time I was conjuring up such ideas, an announcement was made at my local school: a scholarship opportunity for needy students offered by the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center (CWCC) and Lotus Outreach. I applied for it immediately, and after going through a rigorous interview process, I was chosen for the scholarship program.

The program not only offered tuition for my education, but also provided me with key items without which I could not have attended school. These included my uniforms, school supplies, bicycle for travelling to and from school, and a monthly stipend. I worked hard throughout high school, but when I reached 12th grade, I was diagnosed with a tumor in my throat that required an urgent operation. Fortunately, because I was in the Girls’ Access to Education (GATE) scholarship program, Lotus Outreach paid for my operation and saw me back to recovery.

Moreover, my teachers along with the program staff were extremely supportive in helping me plan for my future and presenting me with all my available opportunities. They saw me through until I graduated high school and went on to pass the exam for the two-year Teacher Training program at Banteay Meanchey Teaching Center. Lotus Outreach and CWCC continue to support me by providing food for my family so that I may continue my education on to college. Without the funding to buy textbooks and other necessary support, I would not have been able to continue my education beyond high school. Thanks to supporters like you, my dream of becoming a primary school teacher is now becoming a reality!

donate now:

Make a monthly recurring donation on your credit card. You can cancel at any time.
Make a donation in honor or memory of:
What kind of card would you like to send?
How much would you like to donate?
  • $17
    give
  • $27
    give
  • $51
    give
  • $185
    give
  • $238
    give
  • $425
    give
  • $740
    give
  • $3,500
    give
  • $17
    each month
    give
  • $27
    each month
    give
  • $51
    each month
    give
  • $185
    each month
    give
  • $238
    each month
    give
  • $425
    each month
    give
  • $740
    each month
    give
  • $3,500
    each month
    give
  • $
    give
gift Make this donation a gift, in honor of, or in memory of someone?

Reviews of Lotus Outreach

Great Nonprofits
Read and write reviews about Lotus Outreach on GreatNonProfits.org.