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.
Jan 9, 2012

Prosecuting a rapist

Channery
Channery's art therapy

The daughter of farm laborers, 14 year-old Suy Channery* left the public school system in grade three to help out with adult responsibilities. Her voice became soft when we asked about her education. “I dropped out of school a long time ago,” she says. “When I was 10 years old I worked in Thailand for a year making leather shoes. It wasn’t hard, as I was there with my two older sisters and a neighbor. The working day was 7-12 hours, and we each made $60 per month.”

Last year, a friend from a neighboring farm asked Channery to stay with her while her parents were away. The young woman’s 18 year-old brother came in to where Channery was sleeping that night and raped her, covering her mouth to stifle her cries. "I tried to make him stop, but he was too strong,” she says.

Channery told her mother what had happened, the police were called and the young man was arrested in June 2010. We met Channery when the two families were unable to come to an agreement on compensation, and in September asked our local partner (the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center) for legal advice. They referred Channery to our safe shelter in nearby Sisophon.

Our counselor, Sokny, reports that Channery displayed symptoms of depression and withdrawal similar to that of many trauma victims: she didn’t bathe, she isolated herself from others, cried frequently, and discussed feelings of hopelessness and anger.  “I felt ashamed of myself and felt my reputation was destroyed,” Channery recalls. “I thought my neighbors, being the only people I knew, would think badly of me.”

With nine months of nurturing through shelter activities and individual and group counseling, Channery’s outlook improved markedly. She began communicating more naturally, made friends among the other patients, and reported feeling less ashamed.

When her court hearing arrived Channery gathered all her courage to tell her story in its entirety to a room full of strangers - and her attacker. Once the terrifying experience was over, she was filled with relief. She had braved public humiliation and survived – and found a strength she didn’t know she’d had.

While we hoped that the defendant would be sentenced to 15 years for sexually assaulting a minor, in the court considered the act to be consensual since the perpetrator's sister was not woken up by her cries. He received four years for having sex with a minor and was ordered to pay $10,000 in compensation. 

Re-entering the school system will be difficult for someone as far behind as Channery. She took tailoring training at the shelter, and was reintegrated with a $50 life start-up gift in August. 

*name has been changed

A happy thought
A happy thought

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Dec 13, 2011

Literacy: the ultimate confidence booster

Sok Khea cooking with her daughter
Sok Khea cooking with her daughter

One of 13 children, You Sok Khea never had the chance to attend school in her native Kampong Cham province. Having spent her childhood helping her mother raise her siblings, her first taste of independence came after she moved to Phnom Penh as an adult and found restaurant work.

A few years later as a wife and mother of four,  Sok Khea assumed reading and writing were opportunities that had long since passed her by. Yet her hopes sprang back to life in March when we opened up our NFE class in Tuol Song Kae, not far from her home. She enrolled at the first chance and has excelled, currently ranking fifth in a class of 21 students.

The course and its teachers have exposed Sok Khea to thoughts and ideas that felt well out of reach just a few months ago, quickly raising the bar beyond the basic skills of primary education. One lesson that got her wheels turning was on a cassette called “Keys to Success and Leadership”. Inspired, she enlisted the help and guidance of her teachers to open a small grocery. Today, she runs a successful business out of her house and continues to attend NFE, eager for all it has to offer.

“Before I didn’t know how to calculate so people could cheat me easily,” remembers Sok Khea. “But I’m different now! I can not only read, write and do math, but I can think, analyze and even run a business. I owe a great deal to the program – I don’t know how to thank you enough."

We couldn't have said it better ourselves. On behalf of Sok Khea and all of our NFE students, we thank you for your support and wish you a happy and safe holiday season!

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Nov 22, 2011

Congratulations, YOU did it!!!

It
It's official: WE ARE THE GIRL EFFECT!

You won the first ever Girl Effect Challenge for our Blossom Bus riders! In the month from October 15 to November 15, 574 unique donations were made to this project - pushing us into sixth place and across the finish line with five other finalists! Thanks to you, the Blossom Bus will be featured on the Girl Effect Fund’s project page for a full year, earning Lotus Outreach an incredible new partnership and unprecedented exposure.

You responded immediately with donations (each of which counted as a vote) when we told you about this contest last month, quickly propelling us into first place. However, since each donor can only “vote” once, things looked precarious when the Blossom Bus fell out of the top six in the final week. But we asked you to rally, and you got your friends and family to donate as well. We know for a fact that the personal appeals you made on our behalf were instrumental in the success of this campaign; we edged out the competition by a mere 53 votes!

What’s more, you donated generously. The Blossom Bus raised more money during the Challenge than any other project - $29,562. That’s enough to run 16 buses for an entire academic year.  With each bus making multiple trips each morning, we can now help hundreds of young women in Mewat, India finish high school and delay arranged marriages.

In addition to the incredible boon this contest has been for these dedicated girls and their families, we can’t thank you enough for the opportunity this has given us as an organization. The Girl Effect has become a powerful force in the philanthropic community; their video has been viewed more than three million times on YouTube, their Facebook page has 270,000 “likes” and the Girl Effect Fund has raised more than $700,000 from nearly 11,000 donors on GlobalGiving alone.

And now, it’s official: Lotus Outreach and the Blossom Bus ARE the Girl Effect.

We have a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. On behalf of the Blossom Bus riders, our beneficiaries in India and Cambodia, and all of us here at Lotus Outreach, thank you.

We look forward to keeping you up-to-date on the continued success of this program through regular project reports, but we also encourage you to subscribe to our monthly newsletter by clicking here

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