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.
Mar 13, 2012

Out of the woods, and today's bonus matching funds

Sokny and Kumni in session with Thuk, on left
Sokny and Kumni in session with Thuk, on left

When 11 year-old Thuk came to our shelter her behavior was described as that of a caged animal. Frustrated by confinement, she tried to run away time and again; her hair was unkempt, her skin was dirty and covered with scars. She trusted no one, and if she got angry she ran outside and hid in the bushes.

Running away was Thuk’s coping mechanism at home, too. It was her only escape from the abuse of her parents, both of whom beat her severely. She’d never been to school. Last May, she was found hiding in a forest near her home and was brought to our after-care center in Sisophon, Cambodia.

Thuk’s arrival was disruptive to life at the shelter. When she disappeared, which was often, everyone dropped what they were doing to look for her. For weeks she wouldn’t talk to anyone except the monitoring officer that referred her to us; it wasn’t until her third month that she even began coming to her counseling sessions. Everyone was careful with her, and she got very angry if not given attention when she sought it.

Thuk finally began meeting with her therapist in August but showed up irregularly and often late. Even then, she still refused to speak. Kumni had her mold clay into simple figures – things she liked, things she didn’t like, things she was afraid of.

Slowly, Thuk began to share her thoughts in words, although her early voice was barely audible. Moreover, she oddly referred to herself always by a different name. Kumni asked her to draw pictures of her experiences, and at first Thuk only drew from positive memories. Kumni taught her how to make flowers and jewelry, slowly gaining her trust and establishing a safe space. One day while drawing, Thuk opened up and told Kumni her story in her own words.

Over the course of her therapy, Thuk’s behavior changed drastically. She now comes to her appointments when they are scheduled and she is much more cooperative in doing what she is asked. She is attentive to her appearance and personal cleanliness, washing regularly and combing her hair.

Thuk has been enrolled in school and wants to be a teacher. She worries about succeeding because she has missed so much, and she doesn’t want to go home. Her mother gambles, both her parents travel to work in Thailand and she has no reason to think they will stop beating her. Our local partner is looking at options for long-term care so Thuk can continue to grow and study in a supportive environment.   

Outcomes like these bear testament to the patience, love and hundreds of hours our counselors put into their patients. Their work is transformative on the minds, hearts and souls of the women and children that find themselves here. But it is your support that makes it possible for us to provide girls like Thuk with this sanctuary while they recover. Thank you for helping Thuk make her final escape – literally out of the woods, and into a life of nurturing.

BONUS DAY - TODAY ONLY!

Your donation can be matched 30% TODAY! GlobalGiving put up $50,000 in matching funds at 12:01 am EST, Wednesday March 14 to give your charitable contribution to our cause an extra boost. Check out how your donation today will grow:

$10 = $13

$50 = $66

$75 = $100

$150 = $200

What’s more, for this first Bonus Day of the year GlobalGiving is awarding $1,000 to the project that raises the most money and another $1,000 to the project with the most unique donors. This is exactly how you won GlobalGiving’s Girl Effect Challenge for our Blossom Bus project last October, and we know you can do it again!

But remember, once the $50,000 in matching funds runs out, the contest and bonus boosts are over. So to make sure you snag that extra 30% AND put us in the running for the $1,000 bonus money, submit your donation now! 

Thuk displays her hand-made jewelry
Thuk displays her hand-made jewelry

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Feb 23, 2012

Buses, not bikes, in Mewat

Mausmin
Mausmin

Mausmin is a pretty lucky 14 year-old. She rides a bus every day to eighth grade, where she ranks 5th in her class of 40 students. “I don’t find it too difficult, especially since my brother, who is in year 9, helps me,” she says.

One of three children, Mausmin’s family is notably smaller than Mewat district’s average family size of eight. Her mother, Jubeda, lost three children in labor, a tragedy that is all too common in Mewat. Perhaps because they have less mouths to feed and bodies to clothe, Mausmin's parents are supportive of the children’s formal learning for the long term. “We will educate the boys as long as they wish to remain in school,” says Jubeda. “And Mausmin as long as she is safe.”

By “safe” Jubeda means on a bus. Mausmin’s school actually gave bicycles to children who lived several kilometers away, but this simply isn’t good enough for girls - there are empty fields and isolated outhouses on the path. “We cannot possibly ride to school on a cycle alone, even if it is less than 3 kilometers,” says Mausmin.

“We heard that a girl from a nearby village going to school on her bike was surrounded by a group of boys,” recounts Mausmin. “She only escaped because some villagers helped her. There’s no way my parents, or any others for that matter, agree to girls going to school by bicycle.”

Mausmin herself, in fact, didn’t expect to attend eighth grade. At the beginning of the school year, she was at home helping with chores. She had heard of the Blossom Bus and asked to be chosen, but had heard nothing back. Finally, after two weeks as a dropout, she got the news that the Bus was coming to her village.

“I was very happy to know that I could take the Blossom Bus,” she says. “Four of my girl cousins dropped out last year, and while I encourage them to go back there is little chance without a bus to take them,” laments Mausmin. “But I want to finish grade 12, and I feel that my fate will lead me to a good job.”

“Education is everything,” says Jubeda. “It’s the only way to get employment, become independent and teach girls to think for themselves.”

Mausmin, Jubeda and all of us at Lotus Outreach thank you, the Blossom Bus donors, for making sure this young woman, and dozens of others like her, have a chance to be the first in their villages to finish high school.

Mausmin and friend studying by kerosene lamplight
Mausmin and friend studying by kerosene lamplight
With her friends, siblings and mother
With her friends, siblings and mother

Links:

Feb 2, 2012

Pheung Sopheavy thanks YOU

Sopheavy receives her bike and scholarship package
Sopheavy receives her bike and scholarship package

This month we bring you a personal thank you from a recent bike recipient, Pheung Sopheavy. She is also supported by our Girls' Access to Education scholarship program. 

I am now in 12th grade at Dom Dek High School and I am the only child of the family who can stay in school this far. All of my siblings dropped out at primary school level to help earn income to support the family. I have been in scholarship program since I was in 8th grade and I would have dropped out just like my brothers and sisters if I didn’t get scholarship from the program.

None of my family members has a regular job; they all do seasonal labor work on other people’s farm and can earn from $2 to $2.50 per day. I also work like them during school vacation. This seasonal income is not enough to support the big family, let alone supporting my education which gets more and more expensive the higher grade I reach. I am very grateful to the program for covering all these expenses for my family by providing me with school uniforms, study materials, monthly stipend, tuition money, and a bicycle on September 27, 2011 when I passed from 11th to 12th grade.

When I was in 11th grade, I studied at Popel Upper Secondary School near home, but the school has only up to 11th grade, so I had to move to Dom Dek High School which is about 15km or 20km away from home to continue 12th grade, the last grade of high school. Normally for students who stay from 8km up from school are illegible to stay in residential home near school rented by the program, but since I need to help with household chores when other family members go to look for work, I asked the program not to stay in residential home and commute to school daily on the bike provided by the program. Without this bike, I would have difficulty balancing schooling and household chores, so my family and I are very appreciative for the bike and we promise to take very good care of it.

I would like to sincerely thank the program for the right intervention and all the advocacies as well as encouragement given to my family that helps my mother see the value of education and allow me stay in school this far. With financial support and spiritual support from the program and my family, I can see a significant improvement in my study from year to year. Last year I ranked between 7th to 10th in the class, and this year I get second and third place every month out of 50 students. I commit to continue to study hard to return your favor and to be able to support my own family in the future as well as to help develop my country.

Graduation is just around the corner!
Graduation is just around the corner!

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