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 18, 2011

236 Girls Pedaling to School (plus BREAKING NEWS!)

NFE students with their new bikes
NFE students with their new bikes

In the past year, you have allowed us to provide 236 bicycles, pumps, repair kits and locks to impoverished, at-risk girls across Cambodia so they can safely get to school each day:

  • 152 bicycles were given to Girls’ Access to Education (GATE) students and youth club members in Siem Reap.
  • 43 bicycles were given to orphaned and highly vulnerable girls living in the remote regions of Kampong Cham.
  • 33 bicycles were provided to girls living in the red lights districts of Phnom Penh.
  • 5 bicycles were given to young urban sex workers so they can attend literacy classes and skills training.
  • 3 bicycles were given to a recent GATE graduates so they can commute to university in Phnom Penh.

We have attached several photographs of the bicycle giveaway ceremonies, and thank you again for giving us 236 more reasons to celebrate back to school season.

GUESS WHAT? WE HAVE EXCITING NEWS!

We know you care about girls getting to school, so we thought we would tell you about another GlobalGiving project that was recently selected to participate in an exciting competition happening RIGHT NOW!

Girls in rural India face the same challenges as girls in Cambodia when it comes to getting to school.  Heavily trafficked and potholed roads, however, mean bicycles are not an option.  Instead, we provide safe, chaperoned bus transportation to approximately 100 girls in Mewat, Haryana—the most regressive districts in terms of girls’ education in all of India.

Lotus Outreach has been selected to participate in the first ever Girl Effect Challenge.  In the next 30 days, we will compete with approximately 50 other organizations around the world to become one of six beneficiaries of the Girl Effect Fund, a collective giving pool that has raised nearly $700,000 to date.

By becoming a Girl Effect partner, we will not only receive significant financial support for our Blossom Bus project in 2012, but we will also get critical exposure to Girl Effect fans around the world.  Need proof that this will make a difference?  The Girl Effect has 17,500 followers on Twitter, 260,000 "likes" on Facebook and nearly 1,000,000 views on YouTube!  And it isn't hard to see why the Girl Effect is so popular: watch this video to learn why.

WE CAN’T WIN WITHOUT YOUR HELP

Between now and November 15, our Blossom Bus project must recruit as many unique donors as possible.  We are asking all of our supporters to give just $10 during this time period to help us win the competition.  Every donation raised during this period will not only bring us one step closer to our dream of partnering with Girl Effect, but will ensure adolescent girls in Mewat, India can safely return to school.  By providing bus transportation, we will help many of these girls escape childhood marriage and become the first girls to reach high school in the history of their villages!

You can make your $10 donation today at http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/the-blossom-bus/

HELP US GO GUERRILLA

We know we can do this!  You helped Lotus Outreach win a similar challenge in 2009.  But we also know how important it is to get our supporters mobilized and engaged.  Please tell your friends, family and colleagues about this competition and ask them to pledge their support.  Every donation counts so please help us spread the word far and wide through email, Facebook and Twitter!

Questions?  Please contact info@lotusoutreach.org.

GATEways students pedaling to university!
GATEways students pedaling to university!
Thank you from Kampong Cham!
Thank you from Kampong Cham!
We love our new bikes!
We love our new bikes!
Happy to go back to school this season
Happy to go back to school this season

Links:

Oct 11, 2011

Turning the tables on domestic violence

Mouey at her vegetable stand
Mouey at her vegetable stand

The story of Goong Mouey highlights just how far a small amount can go to help sufferers of violence against women.

Mouey may have survived decades of war and genocide in Cambodia, but she didn’t emerge unscathed. The Khmer Rouge completely shut down the public education system in the late 1970s, and 90 percent of all teachers were summarily executed. Mouey is a part of an entire generation of women to grow up completely illiterate, and with little to no economic opportunity.

Lacking education and living in abject poverty, Mouey is representative of the roughly 30 percent of Cambodian women that suffer from regular domestic violence. Escaping her abusive, alcoholic husband and unable to provide for her five young children, she was forced to turn the children over to an orphanage for two years. “This was especially painful for me,” she shares, “but I had run out of options.” 

Since coming into contact with the DFW-supported counseling and reintegration program, the tables have turned for Mouey. After spending some time at a safe shelter, Mouey received $20 in start-up support along with a $120 small business grant and now runs a highly successful vegetable grocery business near Poipet city. Her business allows her to earn about $50 per day—over 20 times the per capita income in Cambodia—and she has since been able to resume caring for her children. 

“I did have a small vegetable stall earlier but it was not enough to live on and the grant allowed me to offer five times as much variety and volume,” Mouey shares. “Now I can afford pretty much whatever the children need to be well nourished.”  Mouey’s 16 year-old daughter, Srey Mom, pipes in as well: “Previously I didn’t have the money I needed to pay for school tuition or buy food and medicine and now we do.”

The social stigma attached to divorce in Cambodian society is harsh. When Mouey's husband came skulking back to their improved financial situation, she let him in. The difference now, however, is that the physical abuse has ended. “I control the money in the family now,” Mouey tells us.

Thank you for helping dozens of families like Mouey’s get back on their feet this year through shelter assistance, start-up financial support, vocational training and small business grants.

Empowering produce!
Empowering produce!

Links:

Sep 30, 2011

The Blossom Bus: In demand across Mewat!

Mankaki village head (standing) and "Uncle" Suraj
Mankaki village head (standing) and "Uncle" Suraj

This September 4 we met with our 58 Blossom Bus riders, their parents and the heads of five villages at Mankaki school in Hathin block, Mewat for a community Sports Day to celebrate the impact of education. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate and the sports activities were rained out, but those present took the opportunity to gather and discuss the wonderful benefit of the Blossom Bus project and their hopes for the future of girls’ education in Mewat.

The families told us that the Blossom Bus is now well known throughout Mewat, and it would easily be filled by girls from every village if we could meet the demand. The village head of Mankaki shared his gratitude for what he called a “trend-setter service” which he believes will change the face of Mewat. (Mankaki is the home of our beneficiary Anjum, who wrote a stunning manifesto of women’s rights a few months ago.)

Parents and village heads alike spoke about how important the project is for girls who never thought they would go to school past grade 8, since parents consider it unsafe for their daughters to walk four to five kilometers to neighboring villages where the only secondary schools are available. Project Manager Suraj Kumar (affectionately called “Uncle” in the villages) acknowledged the support of all the villagers, and thanked them for the tremendous faith and trust they showed in our staff.

Suraj also took the opportunity to discuss more broadly the Right to Education Act of 2009, effective April 1, 2010, which guarantees free quality education for all Indian children up to grade 8. He asked those present to raise demand for school transport, which should rightly be provided by the government to girls so that their right to education can be realized.

This fall, we will be expanding to provide bus transportation to 100 young women on five buses to attend secondary school. The villagers and Blossom Bus riders agreed that girls now studying in grade 9 and 10 are the first in their villages to reach these grades – and that prior to the project they could not have achieved this dream in a district which posted a 2 percent female literacy rate in India's 2001 census.

The 58 Blossom Bus riders were given school bags and uniforms, as were 40 other girls from Mankaki village for encouragement. All children present were given sweets, a rare treat, as a token of appreciation for their participation. Our warmest and sincerest thanks to each and every one of you, who have helped bring this remarkable project to life. 

Arastun, a rider featured in our July report
Arastun, a rider featured in our July report
The first girls in grade 10 wanted their own photo
The first girls in grade 10 wanted their own photo

Links:

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