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.
Sep 16, 2014

Nana Returns Home Thanks to You!

A survivor is reunited with her community!
A survivor is reunited with her community!

Gender-based violence is rampant throughout Cambodia. Women are expected to remain chaste until marriage and are generally held in lower regard than men.  Widespread sex trafficking and rape present Cambodian women with a painful irony: in addition to the trauma of sexual assault and abuse, survivors are often blamed for what has happened to them.  Ostracized and shouldering a burden of guilt for having shamed their families, many girls have no one to turn to.

Nana,* only 14 years old, is the youngest of five siblings. Her parents are landless farmers, seasonal laborers. Because of her family’s station, she has never attended school. Chasing after whatever work they could find, Nana’s parents took her and her siblings to areas near the Thai border.

Just $100 pays for the trauma therapy for a girl for an entire year! Donate today to support this important work.

One night while Nana’s Aunt and her siblings were away at a neighbor’s house, a rapist broke into the home and assaulted Nana while she slept. Nana was too ashamed to tell her parents directly, but she was able to tell her friends, who told Nana’s parents. Her mother reported it to the commune police, and it fortunately resulted in the arrest of the assailant!

Nana voluntarily stayed at CWCC's shelter to wait for her court case and receive services from CWCC. At the shelter, Nana met the counselors who provided her with counseling to reduce her stress and heal her trauma. At first she had a mental block on the memory and an overwhelming hatred of males. She was fearful, she talked to counselors and shelter staff with a loud voice and she was angry with other clients.

After receiving counseling for a full year, Nana worked with CWCC's reintegration staff to plan for her return home. The reintegration team conducted family tracing and assessments on 22ndJanuary 2014 before reintegrating her into her community.

On 24th January 2014, Nana was reintegrated back home with life start-up support. This included sleeping materials, kitchen utensils, and groceries.

The case of the perpetrator is still pending a verdict, but CWCC’s legal aid staff have worked to ensure that the violent criminal is kept away from Nana and the village. In the last year 22 perpetrators of rape, domestic violence and human trafficking were arrested with encouragement and assistance from our legal prosecution staff. 4 have been convicted, and 18 cases are still pending.

Your support has helped make Nana’s recovery, reintegration and justice possible. Thank you for donating to support Nana and other survivors like her.

*Nana’s name has been changed to protect her identity. 

One-on-one counseling helps survivors to heal.
One-on-one counseling helps survivors to heal.

Links:

Sep 16, 2014

Nita's New Bike and 784 Thank You's!

Nita rides her bike to school!
Nita rides her bike to school!

In Kampong Cham Province, outside of the Cambodian capital city of Phnom Penh, lives a young girl named Nita. Nita is in the 5th grade and is the oldest of 3 children. Her mother is a single parent who works as a paid laborer in the rice fields and struggles to provide for her children’s future.

Like many students before they received a bicycle from Lotus Pedals, Nita had difficulty getting to school on time, because there are no school buses to take her. Sometimes she would sit on the handlebars of her friend’s bike to get to school. Otherwise she had to walk over a mile through streets which are very dangerous for a girl as young as Nita. She missed many days of school and her education was starting to slip away.

All of that changed when she received her very own bicycle from Lotus Pedals. The ride to school became much shorter and safer, and now Nita is in the top quartile of students in her class (eighth of thirty-five students).

Just $62 can provide a girl with an all-terrain bicycle and a repair kit to keep her bike in perfect working condition! Transportation is essential to making education possible.

Education is one of the greatest things that can happen for a girl in Cambodia. According to the World Bank, when a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children; an extra year of secondary school boosts her eventual wages 15 to 25 percent. Increased wages enhance a woman’s bargaining power in the household and consequently her ability to meet the needs of her children.

Despite these truths, 70 percent of the world’s out-of-school children are girls.

Your generosity helped Lotus Outreach deliver 784 bikes in the last year! By helping Lotus Outreach perform this vital service, you are making sure that young girls like Nita have a chance to break the cycle of poverty and advance to greater things.

Thank you for supporting Lotus Outreach and Lotus Pedals!

Nita, in 5th grade, demonstrates her reading.
Nita, in 5th grade, demonstrates her reading.
Sep 9, 2014

Blossom Bus Now Ferrying Young Women to College

Zeba in her science lab at college
Zeba in her science lab at college

The Blossom Bus program has been operating in Mewat since 2008. Currently, the program supports 300 girls attending middle school and high school to continue their studies. This August, Blossom Bus has arrived at a new benchmark: transporting 15 high school graduates to college. Moving forward to pursue a tertiary degree of their choice is an accomplishment previously undreamed of. We are deeply honored to be part of their incredible story of triumph.

One of the 15 graduates traveling to college is Zeba. Zeba lives with her parents Akbar and Asmeena, and four siblings in Mamolaka village. Akbar and Asmeena recognize the value of education and all of Zeba’s siblings, one a younger sister, are attending school. But Zeba shares, “I never thought I would be able to go to college. No girl from our village had attended any college till date. The reason is that parents are not comfortable with the hostile environment around the villages and in college.” It is a dream come true for Zeba and her cousin Sanam, who is also a Blossom Bus rider to college.

Zeba and Sanam graduated high school riding on the Blossom Bus. They were disheartened at the prospect of having to suspend their studies, since their parents would never allow them to travel the 20 km from their village to the college town of Palwal. They asked the Blossom Bus operator if there was any possibility of extending the transport facility, and their request was relayed to us.

We at Lotus Outreach were inspired to answer the graduates’ request and to be able to continue supporting their academic aspirations. To ensure the parents were on board with their daughters pursuing a college education, we selected a women’s-only college 4 km further away, as the parents would not be supportive of a co-education institution.

Once the logistics to expand the program were sorted out, we relayed to the 15 graduates accepted into college that a Blossom Bus would be available to them. The young women were astounded and extremely relieved that their parents were supportive of them joining the women’s-only college. Students and parents were very happy that the Blossom Bus had been expanded to provide them transportation to college.

On August 25, Mr. Glenn Fawcett, our Director of Field Operations, met these young students while traveling on the Blossom Bus en route to college. He talked to them about their experience of being in college. All students expressed they were delighted to pursue a tertiary education.

Zeba and a few other students communicated with Glenn in English and were astounded at their gained ability to communicate clearly to an Australian man in his own language. Zeba said, “I never imagined that one day I would be talking to a foreigner in his own language.” Zeba’s parents and friends also recognize what a remarkable accomplishment this is.

Zeba and Sanam are trailblazers in their family and community. Sanam’s two elder sisters were already married at the age of 14 and 15, and sadly never attended a day of school. Zeba and Sanam’s fathers, who are siblings, get by through working odd jobs and farming on a small piece of land that doesn’t even provide enough grains for the family’s own consumption. Young women of their background achieving a college education will have a profound impact on this family and the entire village. Zeba and Sanam are leading the way as the first women to pursue a tertiary education in a community where tragically many are not able to complete more than five years of primary school. We salute these young women’s striking determination and commitment. And we salute you, Blossom Bus’s generous donors, for your support of this project. Blossom Bus’s accomplishments is the direct fruit of your generosity!

Blossom Bus girls boarding at Durga village
Blossom Bus girls boarding at Durga village
Blossom Bus girls arriving at college
Blossom Bus girls arriving at college
Blossom Bus girls on their way to college!
Blossom Bus girls on their way to college!

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