The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!

 
$91,079 $28,921
Raised Remaining

Dear Blossom Bus and Girl Effect fans,

We would like thank you for investing in the Blossom Bus project in rural India.  With your generous support, 150 girls will be returning to school – often escaping arranged marriages – at the start of the academic year next month.  Most if not all of these young women are the first Muslim girls in the history of their villages to ever reach high school—news worthy of celebration in a community where only 2% of women are literate.

The results of our victory in the Girl Effect challenge are likewise evident, as we received our first check of nearly $4,000 from the Girl Effect Fund for the month of January alone!  If the Girl Effect Fund were to maintain this pace throughout the year, we anticipate being able to more than double the project’s reach in 2013.

More exciting news: today is matching day!

Did you know that an additional donation to the Blossom Bus can be matched 30% today?!   GlobalGiving put up $50,000 in matching funds at 12:01 am EST, Wednesday March 14 to give your charitable contribution to our cause an extra boost. Check out how your donation today will grow:

$10 = $13
$50 = $66
$75 = $100
$150 = $200

What’s more, for this first Bonus Day of the year GlobalGiving is awarding $1,000 to the project that raises the most money and another $1,000 to the project with the most unique donors. This is exactly how you won GlobalGiving’s Girl Effect Challenge for our Blossom Bus project last October, and we know you can do it again!

But remember, once the $50,000 in matching funds runs out, the bonus boosts are over. So to make sure you snag that extra 30% AND put us in the running for the $1,000 bonus money, submit your donation now! 

Thanks again for your continued support!

Lots of love,
Lotus Outreach

Mausmin
Mausmin

Mausmin is a pretty lucky 14 year-old. She rides a bus every day to eighth grade, where she ranks 5th in her class of 40 students. “I don’t find it too difficult, especially since my brother, who is in year 9, helps me,” she says.

One of three children, Mausmin’s family is notably smaller than Mewat district’s average family size of eight. Her mother, Jubeda, lost three children in labor, a tragedy that is all too common in Mewat. Perhaps because they have less mouths to feed and bodies to clothe, Mausmin's parents are supportive of the children’s formal learning for the long term. “We will educate the boys as long as they wish to remain in school,” says Jubeda. “And Mausmin as long as she is safe.”

By “safe” Jubeda means on a bus. Mausmin’s school actually gave bicycles to children who lived several kilometers away, but this simply isn’t good enough for girls - there are empty fields and isolated outhouses on the path. “We cannot possibly ride to school on a cycle alone, even if it is less than 3 kilometers,” says Mausmin.

“We heard that a girl from a nearby village going to school on her bike was surrounded by a group of boys,” recounts Mausmin. “She only escaped because some villagers helped her. There’s no way my parents, or any others for that matter, agree to girls going to school by bicycle.”

Mausmin herself, in fact, didn’t expect to attend eighth grade. At the beginning of the school year, she was at home helping with chores. She had heard of the Blossom Bus and asked to be chosen, but had heard nothing back. Finally, after two weeks as a dropout, she got the news that the Bus was coming to her village.

“I was very happy to know that I could take the Blossom Bus,” she says. “Four of my girl cousins dropped out last year, and while I encourage them to go back there is little chance without a bus to take them,” laments Mausmin. “But I want to finish grade 12, and I feel that my fate will lead me to a good job.”

“Education is everything,” says Jubeda. “It’s the only way to get employment, become independent and teach girls to think for themselves.”

Mausmin, Jubeda and all of us at Lotus Outreach thank you, the Blossom Bus donors, for making sure this young woman, and dozens of others like her, have a chance to be the first in their villages to finish high school.

Mausmin and friend studying by kerosene lamplight
Mausmin and friend studying by kerosene lamplight
With her friends, siblings and mother
With her friends, siblings and mother

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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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We are the girl effect!
We are the girl effect!

The clock is ticking...
With your support, our Blossom Bus project has raised over $25,000 from 439 donors over the past month, ensuring dozens of adolescent girls in rural India can return to school next year.

Though our wildest expectations have been exceeded, we have unfortunately fallen out of the top six.  Whether or not we win this challenge depends on you, our most dedicated champions.

Here are three easy steps you can take to help us ensure victory:

1. Make a donation (or two).
One donation=one vote for the Blossom Bus project, and donating online at www.blossombus.org just takes a minute or two.  We are only asking for $10, the minimum donation allowed by GlobalGiving.

Already donated?  THANK YOU!  The great news is that you can cast a second vote by via text-to-donate.  Simply text "GIVE 5307" to 80088 to donate $10 to The Blossom Bus.  Charges will appear on your wireless bill and message and data rates may apply (only works for US mobile phones).

2. Send a personalized email.
Sending a personalized email to your contacts is the single most effective method for increasing our number of votes.  Taking a few minutes to explain the challenge and why it matters to you will go a long way in encouraging participation.  People care about what you care about, and they want to support YOU.  You can view/copy a sample letter by clicking here.  Be sure to let your contacts know that it takes just $10 and a few minutes of their time!

3. Spread the word online.
Share info on this challenge with your social networks.  We have created a few sample posts for Facebook and Twitter which can be downloaded here.  We also encourage you to watch and share a short video the girls helped us put together specifically for this challenge.

Thank you for your support, and for helping us unleash the power of the Girl Effect!  You can follow our progress on the Girl Effect Leaderboard over the next 30 hours.  With your help, we will soon be celebrating victory!

Warmly,

Lotus Outreach

Links:

LO
LO's Rachel Curtis with Blossom Bus Riders

It was a huge pleasure for me to finally meet some of the girls in our Blossom Bus project this October 19 after having seen so many pictures and recounted so many of their stories here on GlobalGiving. Our project manager Suraj Kumar asked the girls to gather at the house of one beneficiary, Anjum, so as to avoid the scrutiny and spectacle that staff sometimes encounter when visiting them at school. 

Our visit was a big event in the village - seeing westerners in a far corner of Mewat is about as rare as seeing cows wandering freely in the streets of an American city. We gathered with a dozen bus riders in Anjum's back yard, and village boys perched on walls around the courtyard to get a glimpse of what was going on. In contrast, the girls we were there to see were very shy, hiding their smiles behind their scarves. Yet they were clearly excited about our visit, and we told them the same news we are sharing with you below - that their project was selected to participate in the first ever Girl Effect Challenge, hosted by GlobalGiving and the Girl Effect Fund.

Truly, the 140 young women in Mewat who will be riding our Blossom Bus this year ARE the Girl Effect. Most are the first females in their villages to reach grades 9 and 10, and with each new academic year they believe even more that they can, and should, complete yet another. Girls who were slated to marry at age 12 or 13 are now setting their sites on a university education. And we know that regardless of what level they reach, they are now much more likely to see that their children are also properly educated, and to make sure their daughters get the same treatment as their sons. 

GUESS WHAT? WE HAVE EXCITING NEWS!

The Blossom Bus has been selected to participate in the first ever Girl Effect Challenge! Through November 15, we are competing with approximately 50 other organizations around the world to become one of six beneficiaries of the Girl Effect Fund, a collective giving pool that has raised nearly $700,000 to date.

By becoming a Girl Effect partner, we will not only receive significant financial support for our Blossom Bus project in 2012, but we will also get critical exposure to Girl Effect fans around the world.  Need proof that this will make a difference?  The Girl Effect has 17,500 followers on Twitter, 260,000 "likes" on Facebook and nearly 1,000,000 views on YouTube!  And it isn't hard to see why the Girl Effect is so popular: watch this video to learn why.

WE CAN’T WIN WITHOUT YOUR HELP

Between now and November 15, our Blossom Bus project must recruit as many unique donors as possible.  We are asking all of our supporters to give just $10 during this time period to help us win the competition.  Every donation raised during this period will not only bring us one step closer to our dream of partnering with Girl Effect, but will ensure adolescent girls in Mewat, India can safely return to school.  By providing bus transportation, we will help many of these girls escape childhood marriage and become the first girls to reach high school in the history of their villages!

You can make your $10 donation today at http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/the-blossom-bus/  (and be sure to check out our new video of the girls!)


HELP US GO GUERRILLA

We know we can do this!  You helped Lotus Outreach win a similar challenge in 2009.  But we also know how important it is to get our supporters mobilized and engaged.  The projects leading the Challenge tend to have the most Facebook shares, so please tell your friends, family and colleagues about this competition on Facebook and ask them to pledge their support. Every donation counts, so please help us spread the word far and wide through email and Twitter as well!

Questions?  Please contact info@lotusoutreach.org

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About Project Reports

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.

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Organization

Lotus Outreach

Aptos, California, United States
http://www.lotusoutreach.org

Project Leader

Alexandra Land

Sacramento, CA United States

Where is this project located?

Map of The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!