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 11, 2013

Sanctuary and justice for survivors of rape

Small group counseling session
Small group counseling session

Srey is a 14 year-old girl from Pailin province, which remained a stronghold of the Khmer Rouge well into the 1990s. Poverty drove Srey’s mother to migrate to Banteay Meanchey to seek work as a cook in the bustling but impoverished town of Poipet. An eighth grader, Srey was left at home alone with her father and her three younger siblings.

After her mother left, Srey’s father began to repeatedly and brutally rape Srey, threatening to hurt her if she told anyone. Crushed, terrified, and desperate to escape, Srey eventually mustered the courage to tell her mother and her uncle what had happened. With their support, Srey filed a police report and her father was arrested. While awaiting trial, Srey came to stay at Lotus Outreach’s safe shelter where she could receive legal assistance, counseling, healthcare, and social services.

When Srey first came to the shelter, her shame and sorrow consumed her. She refused to interact with the other clients, and told her counselors that she thought she was “the most shameful person in her village.” Srey suffered from depression, anxiety, and insomnia and was quick to anger. She was traumatized by the incident as well as the overwhelming fear that her father would be released from jail and come after her.

Through individual sessions, Srey’s counselor gradually built a trusting relationship with the girl and Srey began to open up about what had happened. She soon began to attend group counseling sessions and spoke openly about what had happened to her, offering support to other clients who had also been raped. Over time, Srey developed friendships with other girls at the shelter, returned to school during the weekdays, and even started taking a sewing class. She released her stress through reading books, writing down her incident and then ripping up the paper, drawing pictures, and practicing mediation. Soon Srey told her counselor that she now loves and values herself, and no longer blames herself for what happened. Srey has recently expressed a desire to finish high school and continue on to college to become a nurse. And with the support of the shelter’s legal staff, Srey’s father has now been sentenced to prison for rape. 

Srey's case is unfortunately not unique. During 2012, 19 other rape victims stayed at the safe shelter, nearly 80% of whom are children. To date, eight of the perpetrators have been convicted and another five are awaiting trial. This represents a remarkable sea change in the attitudes of both rape victims and the courts, as in 2009 there were just 468 recorded cases of rape in Cambodia despite the fact that one in four men in the region report having raped a girl or woman. Today, approximately half of rape cases to come through our shelter result in a conviction.

Thank you for giving young girls like Srey hope for a brighter future. To learn more or pledge additional support, please visit http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/ctc/

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Apr 11, 2013

250 children in school...and out of hazardous jobs

With your generous support, Lotus Outreach was able to provide educational scholarships to 250 children living and working in Mewat, Haryana’s brick kilns from July-December 2012. In addition to providing enrollment assistance and daily bus service to ensure the children safely reach school each day, the program provided the young students with school bags, stationery, and sweaters to keep them warm during the chill of winter.

Local teachers tell us that kids from the brick kilns are more dedicated learners and have better attendance and grades than other children from the community, a surprising outcome given the fact that they are all first generation learners. There is little question that without the scholarship support, these children would never have been given the opportunity to attend school and would have been destined for a life of subsistence labor like their parents.

Though many children attend schools in their home villages when the brick factories shut down from July-September for the monsoon season, approximately 8% of migrant families have elected to stay in Mewat for the sole reason of ensuring their children’s education is not interrupted during the school year. These parents always show their gratitude for the continued materials and bus service and tell us how are happy they are that their children are able to continue attending school while away from their home villages.

Lotus Outreach recently learned that the Haryana government has identified 152 brick kilns in Rohtak district housing an additional 3,329 out-of-school children. Through our LEARN project, we have been pressuring the government to adopt our scholarship and transportation model to encourage these children to enroll in school.

We thank you for donating to the Child Laborer Scholarships project and we look forward to keeping you updated on the program’s progress in the months and years ahead.

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Mar 1, 2013

We're doubling the reach of Blossom Bus this year!

Manju (first row, far right) and her peers
Manju (first row, far right) and her peers

A special thanks to all of our “girl champs” for your generous efforts during the November 2012 Girl Effect Challenge. Though we were unable to edge into the top six, our supporters mobilized to raise over $10,000 for our Blossom Bus program throughout the month, which will allow us to double the number of Blossom Bus riders to 300 beginning this April.

The story of 17 year-old Manju underscores the power of an intervention as seemingly minor as providing a ride to school. Members of a scheduled caste, Manju’s family of seven is landless and poor, and their survival depends solely on the labor of the father Vijay who paints houses in nearby villages. Though Manju faced teasing from her upper-caste classmates, her father was determined to overcome class barriers and felt strongly that keeping Manju in school would prove a catalyst for this change. The Blossom Bus identified Manju and 13 other lower-caste girls in her village as "high priority" given their vulnerability to dropping out of school, and all 14 girls are now attending grade 10 with daily bus transportation.

Manju will graduate to upper secondary school this year and is determined to finish high school--and continue on to college if possible. Manju will likely be part of the first cohort of a planned extension of the Blossom Bus project, which will begin transporting girls transitioning to high school this year. The Blossom Bus will also be expanding to the border with neighboring Rajasthan, a high-need region to which our LEARN education watchdog program recently expanded.

We offer our heartfelt thanks to you for helping Manju and her peers in their uphill battle to pursue education in a country that was recently reported as the G20’s “worst country to be a woman.” With your help 300 young women will be able to achieve the promise of education, thereby breaking the cycle of poverty for themselves, their families and the countless generations that will follow them.

To read more about this project or pledge additional support, please visit www.blossombus.org.

Manju at her school
Manju at her school
82 Blossom Bus girls attend this school
82 Blossom Bus girls attend this school

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