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.
Jun 9, 2014

Manju & Manju Video Report

Madhu & Manju (far right) pose with their father
Madhu & Manju (far right) pose with their father

For this Blossom Bus report, we asked our splendid India Project Manager, Mr. Suraj Kumar, to interview two of our 300 Blossom Bus girls. Suraj, very sweetly, chose Manju and Manju! Manju from Dhamaka village and Manju from Bhatt Ki village.

Dhamaka’s Manju very joyfully shared:

"I graduated middle school two years ago. With no high school in my village, I had to drop out. My parents didn't allow me to travel to another village to school.

After a year, I heard about a bus for girls to travel to school. My father was hesitant since he is poor and couldn't afford bus fares. After realizing the bus was free, he allowed me to ride it to school.

My sister Madhu and I now ride the Blossom Bus to school. My father would have married us off by now if we weren't attending school.

We both want to graduate high school, and we'll continue to college if we can."

We do hope both Manju and Madhu are able to continue their education into college, and we are committed to continuing providing them safe transportation to and from college.  

Bhatt Ki’s Manju gave us a glimpse of truly what a great accomplishment it is for a girl in rural Mewat to graduate high school:

"I am the eldest of five siblings. Two of my brothers are in high school. One of my sisters is in 6th grade, and the youngest is in 2nd grade.

When I finished elementary school, I got enrolled in a middle school 5 km away from my village. The school gave me a bicycle, but my parents were always worried about my safety. They wanted me to stop studying after middle school.

I heard about the Blossom Bus. After I was able to get a seat on the bus I started attending high school and now I'm about to graduate. I'm the first girl in my extended family to reach high school, since we belong to a lower caste.

My father is so happy. He wants me to join the police force after I graduate. He's already preparing me to become a police officer by taking me on a 3 km run every morning."

It's extraordinary how a simple intervention like Blossom Bus can foster such life opportunities to the young women reached by the program, while also bearing an enormous potential to transform the cultural mindset towards female education and the role of women in society. With the recent heartbreaking news of the sisters abused and killed in Uttar Pradesh, it's becoming increasignly evident that the situation Indian women are facing is of universal concern and it demands action. We at Lotus Outreach are deeply grateful for your support of young Indian women through the Blossom Bus sponsorship.

Now, nothing better than hearing these extraordinary young women tell their stories themselves!

To watch the interview with Manju from Dhamaka, go to: https://vimeo.com/96960633

To watch the interview with Manju from Bhatt Ki, go to: https://vimeo.com/96946382

Manju (center, blue scarf) with her mom & siblings
Manju (center, blue scarf) with her mom & siblings

Links:

Apr 7, 2014

Education is Liberation for the Next Generation

IN THE SWELTERING HEAT OF THE INDIAN SUN, brick kiln workers stand ragged, knee-deep in water, bent over and hacking out clay bricks from wet mud. Nearby, kindergarten-age children break apart coal lumps to be loaded into impossibly hot clay kilns. None of the conditions are legal, but they are the status quo for millions of workers indentured to labor almost as slaves.

Kamlesh is the mother of eight children working at such a facility in Hathin, Haryana. Living and working at a brick kiln has not afforded Kamlesh’s family the ability to send their children to school. As a result, her oldest children are mostly uneducated, and will likely repeat the same path of servitude which their parents were forced to pursue. Such is the cycle of poverty.

Lotus Outreach is working to break the cycle of poverty by facilitating the education of hundreds of children of laborers each year! Our students receive a free school uniform, school bags, books, stationery, a free lunch, and safe bus transportation to their local school.  

Transportation, Kamlesh tells us, was the main reason why her eldest children were unable to continue in education. Living at the brick kiln in a shack, the family was much too far from the district school, and the roads on which children must walk to get to school are full of peril. Huge trucks tear down the dirt roads, killing dozens of pedestrians each year. One crash last year killed 30 brick kiln workers, 12 of which were children, when the truck tore into the 2 minivans into which they were packed.

Kamlesh’s own first born son was killed in a road accident. Even if just transportation were not an issue, education would still be far out of reach. The cost of uniforms, materials, food, and the opportunity-cost of losing the pittance of income generated by their children’s labor makes so many families choose not to continue their children in school.

The supportive services of Lotus Outreach are changing all of that! Kamlesh’s three youngest children, two daughters and a son are now enrolled in primary school. She says, “I hope that my son can become a clerk and that my daughters will marry into a decent family, and not have to work from dawn until midnight at the kiln.”

Your donation can emancipate these children from a lifetime of hard labor! Just $40 covers the cost of safe, bus transportation for a student for the entire year!  

So far in this year we have 100 students enrolled and receiving scholarships and support. Some 30 families have already committed to stay in the area through the monsoon season, forgoing the meager temptation of more work in the south so that their children can remain consistently in school and receive the full benefit of the program. This choice would be impossible without the support this vital program.

In 2013 we provided services to 250 brick kiln kids, busing them to the schools, supporting them with materials and even extra tutoring, and persuading their migrant families to remain in one place so their children can pursue education. Escape from poverty without literacy, without basic numeracy is all but impossible. With your support we are paving the way for the next generation to succeed.

Links:

Apr 3, 2014

Knowledge is Contagious! GATEways Grad Luen Becomes a Teacher

Luen is paying forward the gift of education!
Luen is paying forward the gift of education!

When Luen graduated from high school as one of Lotus Outreach’s GATE scholarship students, she wished to continue her education by becoming a teacher in a two-year government program. We were of course proud to continue her progress as one of our GATEways post-secondary scholars!

The road to Luen’s success, however, was not an easy one. Luen’s father abandoned her family when she was only in grade nine, and her mother passed away when she was still finishing high school in grade 12. She went to live with her grandmother, but her grandmother too passed away that same year before Luen had finished the 12th grade. Fortunately, the residential homes at GATE Banteay Meanchey were there to accept her.

Lotus Outreach’s GATEways provides tuition, room and board to impoverished students so they can attain post-secondary education, all for just $1,200 per year! Your contribution of $20 can pay for food support for two students for an entire month!

Luen graduated from high school despite these significant setbacks, and she moved forward into teacher training school in Sisophon. Working hard through the year, she graduated number three in her teaching class, and due to her good grades, had the choice to teach anywhere she wanted. A testament to the tremendous community impact of educating women, Luen chose to return to the rural Row Lueh Commune in the district of Svey Check, right next to her home village!

When we went to visit Luen’s class, 14 of her 17 third grade class were in attendance. Luen tells us that rural life makes high demands of children, and work on their parents’ farms precludes many children from attending school regularly. She says, “Some of the students have to stay home to help their parents process the cassava crop.”

Luen knows the people of her hometown area, and she’s proud to return having completed her education:

“I am so happy to be working in my home village. Here, I can be a role model and will help the children and families here to value education and stay in school as long as they can.”

Luen’s story has a fairytale ending. Luen met a young man while in pedagogy school, and they are now engaged to be married. Her fiancée is teaching at another nearby school.

Just several years ago, this kind of story would have been very unlikely in a country like Cambodia. Thanks to your support, more women like Luen are attending school, and they are paying it forward to the next generation.

"I know the answer!!"
"I know the answer!!"

Links:

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