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 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!

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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

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Sep 15, 2011

Getting by with a little help from her friends

NFE students at a sewing skills class in Svey Pak
NFE students at a sewing skills class in Svey Pak

The totals are in for the first half of 2011! We currently have 108 students in our Non-Formal Education classes, with 94 women, 80 former or current entertainment workers and 31 vulnerable children. The story of 22 year-old Korn Srey Neat demonstrates the type of outcome we hope to achieve for each and every one of them.

Born in Tra village of Prey Veng province, Srey Neat is the second of five children. Her mother, a widower, is employed as a cleaner in a factory but makes only a meager wage. Srey Neat quit her garment factory job in January 2010 to earn more money at Srey Sros karaoke bar, where she began attending our NFE class.

Srey Neat proved to be a strong student, and passed the final exam in January of 2011. In March, she attended sewing training with our local partner, Khemara, where she learned about tailoring training opportunity another NGO that specializes in rehabilitating victims of trafficking. LO and Khemara collaborate with AFESIP to refer NFE students to tailoring apprenticeships, and Srey Neat showed keen interest in the program. 

She set her sights on entering the course in June, yet she would need money to live on during her apprenticeship at AFESIP’s training center. To save enough would require a great deal of discipline and sacrifice, and she questioned whether this was the right move for her. She called upon her friends and clients for advice.

Almost universally they encouraged her to take the opportunity, reminding her that karaoke work held no future or promise. Quite the opposite, they said, it was an unhealthy atmosphere where she was and always would be expected to drink in excess while entertaining karaoke clients.

So Srey Neat opened a bank account and spent the first half of this year saving her money, even convincing two of her younger friends to do the same. With the support of peers, she felt confident enough to leave Srey Sros.

Unfortunately her boss, the owner of the karaoke bar, held a different point of view. He forbid her to go and told NFE program staff not to help his employees find other work. It took some doing, but our officers discretely continued to help Srey Neat get accepted to the AFESIP apprenticeship.

That’s where she is today, thanks to the encouragement and faith of so many people – including you! The NFE program would not be possible without the support of our donors, so on behalf of Srey Neat and 108 new students just like her, we thank you sincerely. 

Beauty day school at Srey Sros karaoke bar
Beauty day school at Srey Sros karaoke bar
Our local partner Khemara
Our local partner Khemara's dedicated staff

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