The profile of 20 year-old Mealea is typical of the hundreds of girls we support through Lotus Pedals in Cambodia, and her inspiring story underscores the extent to which a bicycle can alter the course of a girl’s life.
Survivors of the Khmer Rouge genocide, Mealea’s illiterate parents were forced by poverty and high-interest debt to migrate illegally to Thailand in search of work, leaving Mealea and her five siblings—all under the age of 13—alone to fend for themselves. Though Mealea struggled to help feed and care for her siblings, she always placed a high value on her education. “When I was in the fourth grade, I started to work making rice wine and feeding pigs,” she shares. “I often got to school late because of those chores and the long distance from home to school. However, my school performance was not bad; I was always among the top 10 in my class.” Recognizing both her aptitude and her precarious situation, Lotus Outreach began providing Mealea with a scholarship—including a Lotus Pedals bike—in junior high school to prevent her from dropping out. This scholarship not only covered Mealea’s school fees, supplies, healthcare, books, uniforms, bicycle, and lunch money, but provided her with a large bag of rice each month to ensure her young siblings wouldn’t go hungry if Mealea continued going to school instead of work. We shared Mealea’s pride when she passed her rigorous exams to graduate high school in 2010, and was admitted on a full tuition scholarship to the Vanda Institute of Accounting in the capital. Mealea continues to receive support from Lotus Outreach for her living expenses, food, travel, and school supplies through our GATEways university program, and looks forward to graduating next year. In the meantime, she continues to excel in her studies and has expressed a deep and passionate commitment to helping other children in Cambodia. In addition to studying full-time, working part-time to help pay down her parents’ debt, and learning English on the weekends, Mealea volunteers at her school as well as with the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center. “I feel very deep gratitude to the donors for supporting me,” shares Mealea. “When I was sick, you cared for me. When my bicycle broke and I couldn’t get to school, you helped me fix it. You educated me and offered me every opportunity you could. You have been like my parents, and I will not be satisfied until I have been able to repay your generosity by helping others!”
We thank you for clearing the path for hundreds of girls like Mealea to pursue education and contribute to the development of their families, their villages, and their country. To learn more about Lotus Pedals and pledge additional support, please visit http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/lotuspedals.
Despite inclement weather, spirits were high on June 4th when Lotus Pedals distributed 40 new bicycles to young girls at a giveaway ceremony in the Kampot province of Cambodia. The giveaway was sponsored by the World Bank Independent Evaluation Group in Washington DC, which raised funds among its staff in observance of International Women’s Day on March 8.
“This has been a much appreciated initiative by both school girls and their parents,” shared World Bank field representative Alassane, who attended the ceremony on behalf of IEG. “These students walk some 2-8 km to get to school. Some say they will no longer be late coming to school, others say they could now afford the time to take additional private tutoring.”
Lotus Pedals was also recently awarded a grant of $25,000 from Impact Giving, a women’s giving circle based in Orange County, California. This grant, combined with the generous financial support of our donors on GlobalGiving, will mean at least 600 more girls will receive bicycles this year.
On behalf of all of us at Lotus Outreach, thank you for giving these girls the opportunity to get to school safely!
Starting at 9:00 am EDT on June 12, donations made to Lotus Outreach projects will be matched 50% by GlobalGiving. We are using this rare opportunity to help us complete our sponsorship campaign for poor university girls in Cambodia at http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/gateways/.
The GATE Women and Youth Scholarship (GATEways) project will allow Lotus Outreach to send 100 impoverished Cambodian girls to university, enabling them to rank among the 2% of women in their country to possess tertiary education. By supporting women's higher education, GATEways is working to rebuild the intellectual class in Cambodia which was tragically purged during the Khmer Rouge genocide.
Click here to donate now and your gift will be matched 50%!
The fine print:
Follow our progress on the Bonus Day Leaderboard, which will go live Wednesday morning.
Questions? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888.831.9990.
We travelled three hours south from Phnom Penh to Svey Rieng near the Vietnam border for a recent Lotus Pedals bicycle giveaway. Svey Rieng is one of the poorest provinces in Cambodia, primarily due to poor soil quality and insufficient rainfall which greatly inhibit agricultural output. Only half of Svay Rieng’s children will receive primary school education, with poverty driving the other half to work to contribute to the family purse. There are many reports of parents selling or “leasing” their children to begging syndicates working across the border in Vietnam, and girl children are particularly vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation.When we arrived at the community hall, we were amicably greeted by the Assistant District Governor (ADC) of Chantrea and the families of the 25 young girls about to receive their first bicycles. While addressing the families, the ADC remarked there are no other organizations working on education in the three communes of his district despite the tremendous need. Even though these poor families had travelled a long way in the heat of the day, their mood was upbeat during a serious yet humorous meeting.Primary schools are generally available within a few kilometers of people’s homes, but lower secondary schools average 5-10 kilometers or more in this district. Without a bicycle, a girl is given little choice but to drop out when she finishes her primary education. Lotus Pedals is designed to ensure these vulnerable girls will not be forced to drop out due to something as tragically simple as a not having a ride to school.It was truly delightful to see the joy and hope in the eyes of these children as they answered questions about their studies, plans, and dreams. A bicycle seems such a small thing to us but to these families its often the difference between whether or not their daughter will have a future. We are deeply grateful to GlobalGiving donors for supporting Lotus Pedals and the 1,000 girls we will have distributed bicycles to by the end of 2013.To watch a video of the giveaway in Svay Rieng, please click here.
With your generous support, 364 impoverished girls in rural Cambodia received new bicycles, pumps and locks in 2012, clearing the single greatest obstacle to their continued education. In this update, we will offer you an inside look at how the project picks beneficiaries and monitors their progress.Because demand for the bicycles far exceeds supply, Lotus Pedals has established the following selection criteria to ensure the bikes reach those most in need. In addition to requiring that girls live at least 1.5 kilometers from the nearest school, priority is given to:
To ensure the long-term impact of the bicycle, recipients and their families also sign a contract pledging to do the following:
Lotus Pedals bicycles are delivered in partnership with several well-established indigenous NGOs throughout Cambodia, including in the provinces of Mondulkiri, Banteay Meanchey, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Pursat and Svay Rieng. Because our partners are already operating programs in the target villages, the project has a built-in network for monitoring progress, and our partners agree to track the progress of the girls for a minimum of two years. This model allows us to devote 100% of every dollar you contribute directly toward the purchase of bicycles, while still maintaining our capacity to track project performance.We thank you again for your contribution, and look forward to keeping you posted on the girls’ academic success in the months and years ahead. We also invite you to consider supporting the education of other girls by making another donation at http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/lotuspedals/ (and encouraging your friends on Facebook to do the same!).
As a result of your generous support, 107 impoverished young girls in the Russey Keo district of Phnom Penh, Cambodia received refurbished bicycles and repair kits this month, allowing them to celebrate Back to School season in style.In rural Cambodia, the road to school is long and full of hazards. In addition to the time and opportunity costs of traversing lengthy distances to school by foot, rural Cambodian girls face a high incidence of sexual violence in their communities, and walking alone increases their risk. By supplying heavy-terrain bicycles to the poorest girls living over one mile from the nearest schoolhouse, Lotus Pedals is helping hundreds of adolescent Cambodian girls safely return to school.The giveaway ceremony, held at Bun Rany Hun Sen Koh Dach High School on October 8, was attended by nearly 1,000 people, including the district officer, commune council, village chief, school director, teachers, local authorities and 700 school children and parents. Speaking to the crowd, the Deputy Governor stressed that a bicycle means a lot to poor family that would otherwise have to save for a very long time in order to afford a bike for their daughter. Student council representatives also declared that with a bike, the girls can now come to school both regularly and on time. Recipients thanked the donors and promised to study hard and take good care of their new bikes.Susan B. Anthony once said "I think [the bicycle] has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. The moment she takes her seat she knows she can't get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood."These words – spoken by a 19th century American feminist – could not be truer in present-day rural Cambodia, where – for a young woman – a bicycle can mean the difference between reaching her full potential and a life of oppression. We offer our deepest gratitude to each and every one of you for entrusting us to help these young Cambodian girls get back to school, and for investing in the healing of a nation.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.