Nov 24, 2020

Chenda's Healing

International Women's Day celebration
International Women's Day celebration

Content Warning: Sexual Assault

Chenda* is 12 years old and lives in Banteay Meanchey Province. She was born into a low income family and has not been enrolled in school since she was much younger. Chenda is the 3rd child among 4 children in her family and she was always helpful around the house and kind to her siblings.

Chenda currently resides at the CWCC safe shelter for survivors of abuse and other trauma. Chenda came to the shelter after she was raped by her father 3 times when her mother was out of the house. Her father threatened to beat or kill her if she told anyone, especially her mother. Some time later, Chenda’s Uncle noticed that she was acting strangely and looked frightened and pale, so he asked what was wrong with her and why she was acting like this. At first, she didn’t want to tell her Uncle the truth and tried to avoid him, but her Uncle persisted and asked her again and again.

Chenda finally decided to tell the truth about what had happened to her. Her uncle immediately filed a complaint against Chenda’s father to the local authorities for intervention. Shortly thereafter, Chenda’s father was arrested by the police and sent to prison while Chenda was sent to CWCC safe shelter in Banteay Meanchey to await the trial.

When she first arrived at the safe shelter she was fearful and didn't get along smoothly with other people at the shelter. The counselor worked hard to build trust and confidence with Chenda. She encouraged her to take time for self-reflection and connected her to other girls in the shelter. After a while, Chenda felt more comfortable and started to find it easier to get along with other girls through group counseling and participating in shelter activities.

Currently, she’s still residing in the shelter where her healing and support are the priority. Her overall health is fine, both physically and emotionally. She is also attending vocational training inside the shelter, participating in sewing and fashion design classes. CWCC staff will continue to assist her and support her in her healing process in all the ways that they are able.

Thank you for supporting the wellbeing of survivors like Chenda. With the support of a safe and caring community, we hope that they may all heal and move forward into bright futures with confidence and determination. 

*Chenda is a name given by the writer to protect her privacy in according to child protection policy of CWCC.

Oct 19, 2020

Back in Action!

Having been on halt for many months due to Covid-19, finally Lotus Pedals is back in action! Although students are still doing distance learning and online study, they have been going to take handouts from teachers at school a few times a week. To ensure an easy and safe commute for those who live far from school, 157 bicycles were distributed in September! 77 bikes went to students of Girls' Education Initiative Project in partnership with KAPE in Kompong Cham Province & Tbong Khmum Provinces and another 80 bicycles were awarded to scholarship students of Girls' Access To Education in partnership with CWCC in Siem Reap Province. 

After the distribution, we randomly visited several recipients at their home and Lida was one of them. When we arrived at her home, we saw the new bicycle standing beneath the house and her mother weaving a mat. She told us that Lida had gone to look for a red thread to tie around her wrist as a blessing for getting a new bicycle. This symbolic action alone tells us how much the bicycle means to her. A short while later, Lida came back with the red thread and we were able to talk with her about her family, school, challenges and dreams.

Lida is 15 years old, studying in 7th grade at Angkor Thom Lower Secondary School in Siem Reap Province. She is the youngest of 9 siblings. Only 3 of the siblings have received some level of education, Lida and one other are the only ones in school currently. The rest of the siblings and her parents have received no education at all. 

Lida and her family live 2 kms from school, a commute she has made by foot since she was in 1st grade. She is very happy and excited to have received a bicycle for the first time! Lida said, "With this bicycle, I will get to school on time and won't be afraid any more. Before, I had to take a shortcut through a rice field which is very quiet and I was always afraid that someone would hurt me. When it rained, the rice field became very muddy and slippery. I had to keep my school uniform and books in a plastic bag to prevent them from getting dirty and I changed when I arrived at school." 

Lida is inspired by her father, a former soldier. She also wants to become a soldier because she wants to protect people, their properties and Khmer territory. However, her mother doesn't want her to do that because it is dangerous. She wants Lida to be a teacher or a doctor. Considering her mother's wish, Lida has a second career option which is a doctor. When asked about her hopes for Lida, her mother replied, "I want her to have higher education because those who are well-educated get good jobs. For example, the relatives on my husband's side, they are all well-educated and now they are school principals, teachers, working for NGO etc., while my older children, who have no education, are doing seasonal labor work."


We are so happy to have this crucial program up and running once again and to see first hand girls like Lida riding towards their dreams. Thank you so much for your generous support for this project. 

Oct 18, 2020

CATALYST update: Stress Management Workshop

We continue to support CATALYST scholars in staying on track and engaged with their studies, online or in person. The continued commitment of our staff in Cambodia is crucial and we are happy to support these girls even through such challenging and uncertain times. 

On August 9th, CATALYST invited a former Project Officer of Lotus Outreach, Mrs. SEM Sokhorn, to give a workshop to 21 CATALYST scholars in Phnom Penh. Mrs. Sokhorn earned her Master's Degree in Clinical Psychology from Vietnam and has 5 years of experience in Psychology.

The workshop covered these points:

  •   What is Stress?
  •   Types of Stress
  •   Causes of Stress
  •   Signs of Stress
  •   Real Practices with assessment tool
  •   Stress Management
  •   Relaxation Techniques

The participants were asked to fill in an assessment form which asked if they were stressed and how much. They were also asked to reflect on what made them stress, how they react to stress, how they had been dealing with their stress and if it worked. Mrs. Sockorn also shared some stress management techniques with the participants, which they were invited to try out. These techniques included meditation and using the breath to find calmness. 

The workshop was very interactive and students were excited to participate throughout. They asked many questions and engaged in group discussion about signs of stress, sharing ideas and thoughts with one another. They were very brave and confident to present what they had discussed. The following are some reflections on the workshop from participants: 

Rous: "After I have joined the Stress Management workshop, it helps reduce the pressure I am experiencing.  I think it is very useful. I came to realize there are ways to make the problems become simpler, which is to think positive. I am very happy to have joined this workshop. The trainer is very good in explaining the lessons."

Sarik:"After I have learned about Stress Management, I think stress is a disease that we need to know and care about because if we are stressed but we don't have any solutions to reduce it, it will make us become a depressed person and can even make some people commit suicide. I got a lot of knowledge from this workshop. I have learned two types of stress such as Eustress and Distress and three types of stress signs such as emotional, physical and attitude. Teacher is very good because she explained so well that made it easy to understand and didn't make me feel sleepy. Many solutions that I should use when I am stressed are meditation, breathing exercise, and doing some activities that make me happy."

SreyMom: "This lesson is a very new and good experience for me. I got some techniques to control stress and trauma. The points that I will apply in life and keep in mind are: everyone makes mistakes but they are in the past, so in the present we should not think too much and think positive, need to live with present life, don’t let the past haunt us. Thank you so much Lotus Outreach and the donors for always providing training to us. I hope to have more trainings in the future." 

Overall, the Stress Management workshop was a great success, allowing participants to reflect on their relationship to stress and learn some simple stress management techniques. Through this awareness, the hope is that scholars will be better prepared to take on the day to day stress that can build up and ultimately be harmful to our health and wellbeing. 

Thank you today and every day for your support. We couldn't do it without you! 

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