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 6, 2015

Sushil Declares the Importance of Education

Sushil Expresses His Views on Education
Sushil Expresses His Views on Education

Since the beginning of the 2014 academic year, 30 students have been coming from their homes surrounding the brick kilns and traveling on transport provided by Lotus Outreach to school in the Bhanguri village in Hathin block. This past December our program manager Suraj delivered supplies to these students as he also heard from Sushil, one brilliant young student with a high view of education--

On December 16th with temperatures on an early winter day dipping way below average, these children of itinerant migrant laborers were very happy to receive winter sweaters, school bags and stationery. Amongst them were some very young children that braved the biting cold to attend school in the morning, but as always, were willing to come as they enjoy their days at school so much.

Among them was 12 years old Sushil, who has been attending school on Brick Kilns Buses regularly for the last four years. Sushil is very intelligent and serious about education. His teacher asked him to tell us his views about education and his future plans.

Sushil very enthusiastically told us, “I would have been making bricks today instead of coming to school if the transport was not available to children from brick kilns like myself.”

He also opined, “Education is very important for children as they are like animals without it.”

He further said, “Through my devoted teachers, along with formal education I am learning good manners and moral values at school.” He also told us in great detail about the road safety measures he has learned in the school during a campaign started by the Police Department in the State.

There are hundreds of parents of children in our program who have praised the efforts of Lotus Outreach. This program has made an indelible mark on the lives of hundreds of students vulnerable to child labor in the absence of the opportunities we have given them. Please keep supporting bright students like Sushil and give the gift of education!!

Sushil Receives Supplies
Sushil Receives Supplies
Other Students Line Up for Supplies!
Other Students Line Up for Supplies!

Links:

Jan 6, 2015

Namthorng Leaps Far Beyond Social Norms!

Namthorng at the Royal University of Phnom Penh
Namthorng at the Royal University of Phnom Penh

The following report is a true testament to the huge success of this program and its sister high school program GATE (Girls’ Access to Education). It demonstrates the strong will these girl scholars have to learn and succeed, if only given the basic support necessary. It is a tragedy that less than 2% of women in Cambodia possess education beyond high school. Help us change this destructive trend!

Twenty-two-year-old Namthorng originally from the Banteay Meanchey Province of Cambodia, entered Lotus Outreach’s program as an extremely poor student. Through her hard work she was able to receive a tertiary scholarship to enter university, and is now a highly sought after computer systems network administrator working in Phnom Penh. We were able to meet with Namthorng and interview her at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, where many GATEways scholars currently study.

The sense of growth in these girls between high school where they’re too shy to speak English and the tertiary level where they know enough English and have the confidence to use what they have, is extremely encouraging. This growth from high school to college is so large as these girls are now picking between multiple job offers, earning really good money and operating with confidence in a 21st century context. It shows the true strength of this program.

We never could have known how successful this program now going into it’s tenth year would be. This is real social development, not only in the girls themselves, but also in the impact on their families and rural communities. These scholars are simply showing that girls can succeed and achieve like boys in school and also in finding well-paid jobs. It is turning social norms on their head and helping erase cultural boundaries for the better.

Namthorng tells us, “I was supported by Lotus Outreach for 2 years in the GATE program before being assisted again by LO to win a position at PNC for a two year education course in IT.”

“After graduating I applied for a job at Cloud Net Cambodia where I work as a Sales Executive selling website design and finding clients to buy their product. I actually applied as a network administrator to set up computer systems, which is what I am trained for, but I decided to do this work as it is giving me experience that I don’t have. Many companies called me to interview so I have a lot of options and while I am now earning an OK salary of $200 a month, I’ve been offered $300 and could easily get $500 after a short time doing this kind of work.”

We asked Namthorng, “Did you ever think while living in Kob this would ever happen for you?”

She replied, “In my dream I always hoped that I could get a high salary but could not imagine that I would ever be able to study in such a good university and get such great qualifications. English is very important for getting a good job and I could not have got that without the PNC training where we focused on English 20 hours per week.

Namthorng continued, “When I go home I always tell my neighbors they should convince their children and grandchildren to try hard to study and get educated and don’t look down on others or listen to those giving negative opinions...When I was studying IT at PNC I lived in a shared house with 20 other girls. I was house leader and set ground rules to ensure we could live together peacefully such as a 10 pm curfew, no walking alone in the street at night, sharing housework and being honest with each other.”

We could never have hoped for such tremendous outcomes ten years earlier when we began supporting girls from poor Cambodian families and advocating for education as a tool to reduce violence against women, which has brought profound and definite change. The success of great young women like Namthorng emerging as leaders and role models in their communities definitely makes it all worthwhile! Help us sponsor more scholars and future leaders like Namthorng! Thank you!

GATEways Scholars Jump in Joy!
GATEways Scholars Jump in Joy!

Links:

Jan 2, 2015

Chantha's Confidence and Stitching Skills

Chantha Learns to Sew!
Chantha Learns to Sew!

Lotus Outreach’s Non-Formal Education (NFE) program serves over 100 young women working to escape sex-work and harsh labor by learning basic skills like literacy and numeracy, in addition to skills like sewing, food service and cosmetology. Beyond skills and education, these girls and young women gain a new found self-confidence. Take a look at Chantha's story:

Chantha, 29 years old, is the first of 7 siblings. She had to drop out of school in sixth grade in 1999 to work in Phnom Penh to help support her family. To make matters more difficult, her father died of Malaria in 2000, pushing her family into severe debt and deeper into poverty.

When Chantha arrived in Phnom Penh alone in 1999, she worked in 2 garment factories for over 10 years for a very small salary. Her health deteriorated as she became weak and got sick quite often. She then became a hostess at a beer garden working long hours, hoping to restore her health. Once she learned about NFE classes and sewing training at the beginning of this year, she decided to change her workplace to another beer garden so that she could attend class from 8am to 4pm during the week in addition to working her new job.

She decided to take the NFE classes in part to improve her skills so she could read menus, write orders and communicate properly with others at work. In addition, before joining NFE, she was at a fourth grade literacy level, but now after just one year in the program her level is as high as 10th grade. In addition, she is now able to do advanced multiplication and division whereas before she could only multiply numbers with 1 digit and she was unable to divide.

Chantha is very happy and proud of herself now that she can stand on her own feet with confidence. She exclaimed, “Before, I normally just followed others. I didn’t have my own thoughts or decisions… I can [now] plan for my future. I have my own ideas and thoughts. I don’t have to follow what others tell me to do anymore.”

Chantha also gets support from the program on health issues and often consults with the project officer on any concerns she has. Moreover, with ongoing encouragement and training from the program, she also started to save (for the first time ever) in order to run a tailoring business in the future. By the end of this winter, she is going to buy a sewing machine for roughly $200 in order to sew at home in her free time to earn extra money. Actually, she is already making additional money from sewing as people have asked her to make clothes for them after seeing the dress she made for herself.

Chantha requests the program to continue supporting other women in crisis like her, because without education and only minor skills, they cannot do anything to truly help themselves. Last but not least, she would like to sincerely thank the program and donors for giving her this precious opportunity to build invaluable skills and self-confidence!

Chantha Finishes Her Own Dress
Chantha Finishes Her Own Dress
Chantha (Left) Wears New Dress!
Chantha (Left) Wears New Dress!

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