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.
Dec 16, 2013

Dany's Fight for Reconciliation and Justice

Lotus Outreach’s Consoling through Counseling client Dany* has a story not for the faint of heart.

Born the fourth of seven children to a seasonal laborer and her now deceased husband, Dany lived with her younger siblings in an orphanage in Battambang province. Her mother would travel to find work, while Dany studied at the local high school. Her family is so poor that she lived at the orphanage until she was 20 years old, just so she could survive and go to school.

In September of 2012, her older sister who was already married pulled Dany out of the orphanage so she could work as a gardener in the border town of Poipet. She lived with her uncle nearby until a terrible thing happened in January 2013.

Dany’s brother in law called her and asked her to come over to his house to talk. Her sister was not there, but their young daughter was, so Dany was not concerned. But everything changed once she stepped in the door:

“When I arrived there, my brother in-law took my hand and dragged me into his room and threatened me. He then forced me to have sex with him and threatened to kill me if I told anyone about it.”

At first, Dany did not share what had happened with anyone. She was too terrified to break her silence until her brother in law asked for the phone numbers of her younger sisters. Even more concerned for her sisters’ well-being than for her own, Dany decided to tell her older sister what her husband had done.

Fortunately for Dany and her sisters, Dany’s older sister believed her, and she took Dany to the police and to Lotus Outreach’s partner the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center (CWCC) in Poipet.

To keep herself safe, Dany decided to stay at CWCC’s shelter in Banteay Meanchey to wait for her case to be processed and to receive social and psychological support. By the time she arrived there, Dany had sunk into depression. Conselors noticed she spoke and walked slowly. She distanced herself from the other women at the shelter. She was sad, thin, pale, exhausted and hopeless.

Recognizing her psychological symptoms, Dany’s counselor listened to her carefully. Over the course of months, her counselor built a bridge across Dany’s isolation and taught Dany exercises to deal with her trauma. Small group therapy and breathing exercises are now helping Dany cope with what happened to her. Dany is learning to recognize her strengths and reflect on her own thoughts so she can be motivated to think about good things and move forward.

It is still hard for Dany, but things are getting better.

She feels better from time to time, and she is bonding with the other shelter clients. Lotus’s Consoling through Counseling program is providing her with legal representation through CWCC so she can prosecute her assailant, and her court case is being processed.

Consoling through Counseling is currently providing services to 26 women. In the last quarter, eight survivors were reintegrated into their home communities, and staff conducted follow-up visits to thirty-three already reintegrated women.

The program doesn’t just help women find reconciliation, but it also helps them find justice by prosecuting the perpetrators of the violent crimes against them. So far, the program has aided in the convictions of eight rapists.

Recovering from trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is not easy. But you can help these women to overcome and move forward with healthy, productive lives. Just US$100.00 can provide therapeutic counseling for these survivors for a full year. The program also connects them to economic opportunities to make sure they have the things they need to succeed.

Hands can give and hands can take away. Thank you for giving to support the recovery of these beautiful and powerful women.

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

Small group counseling helps women to recover.
Small group counseling helps women to recover.
Dec 11, 2013

You helped get Sross on the road to be a lawyer!

Sross is a student at Hun Sen Prek Pra Lower Secondary School, a school named for Cambodia’s longtime dictator, Hun Sen. Living just outside of the country’s largest city, Phnom Penh, Sross’s family subsists on just a few dollars per day of income. She has three sisters and two brothers, but only she and one of her brothers have not quit school.

“My three elder sisters all work in the garment factory,” she tells us. “Some get $70 or $80 per month, but if they work overtime, they can get $100 per month.”

Life working in a garment factory is not easy, and even though the pay is not high, the modest wages are highly sought after by men and women throughout Cambodia.

Young Sross though, has higher aspirations: “As for me, I am not working in the garment factory. I am studying.” She explains, “In the future, I want to work using my intellect. I don’t want to do manual labor.” 

Sross is one of the hundreds of Cambodian girls who have received bicycles from Lotus Outreach’s Lotus Pedals this year. Since January of 2013, Lotus Outreach has ensured that 302 young riders can get to school to attain their dreams. The program has identified 381 additional students who may qualify to receive a bicycle, and still thousands of girls across the country want to attend school, but have no means of transportation.

Before she received a bike through Lotus Pedals, Sross either had to get a ride with friends, or walk 4 km to school by herself. Her eyes well up with tears talking about the difficulty of getting to school. Walking long distances is not just inconvenient; it can be dangerous because of violent crime or very difficult and muddy in the rainy season. 

To overcome the difficulty of a long commute, even in rainy weather and muddy roads, Lotus Pedals provides its young scholars with heavy-terrain bicycles. The bikes come equipped with a basket for carrying supplies, all-terrain wheels, and a back wheel cover to shield the rider from mud and rain thrown by the wheels. 

“Now that I have the bike, I can go to class and even attend additional sessions on some days. I never miss school!” 

Less than 24 percent of Cambodians finish secondary school, and the percentage of girls who graduate college is in the single-digits. Nonetheless, Sross is determined to be the first in her family to complete college and become a lawyer. She says she wants to serve the falsely accused and the poor who cannot afford representation. 

So many girls are determined to do great things if we just give them the opportunity that an education affords! Just US$80.00 provides a girl with a fully equipped bike, a repair kit and a pump. This small expense is affordable for so many but out of reach for these young women seeking to improve themselves and their community. 

With tears in her eyes, Sross tells us, “I am very thankful to the donors for providing me with this bike.”

Thank you so much for supporting Lotus Outreach and making the dreams of girls like Sross possible!

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Dec 11, 2013

Blossom Bus reaches 300 riders! Many still remain!

Pooja (center) is back in school thanks to you!
Pooja (center) is back in school thanks to you!

Thanks to donors like you through our partner Global Giving, Lotus Outreach’s Blossom Bus is bigger than ever! We just expanded our bus services to 50 new girls from 8 villages in the state of Rajasthan, India. The girls are located four to eight kilometers from the school in rural areas where it is dangerous for a young girl to walk alone. Combined with the 250 girls already using Blossom Bus in the neighboring state of Haryana, the total number of Blossom Bus riders is now 300!

When we reached out to school teachers in the Senior Secondary School of Kaman Block in Bharatpur, they pointed us to a number of students in need of transportation. Among the many students they directed us to was young Pooja.

They told us Pooja was an ideal, hardworking student. She had studied hard to reach eleventh grade but suddenly disappeared from class. It is all too common for girls in this area not to even make it eleventh grade, because they are married away at ages as young as fourteen. Lotus Outreach went to investigate Pooja’s mysterious dropout.

We approached Pooja’s family, and they told us the whole story. Pooja lived with her mother and younger siblings quite far from the school – nearly eight kilometers away – but had been traversing the distance on her bike before harassment by some village boys made it too unsafe.

Biking alone can be hazardous for Meo Muslim girls in this area, as groups of young men lay in wait for them and then attack and sexually assault them. Rather than risk a horrible attack, Pooja reluctantly withdrew from school.

We told Pooja and her mother about the availability of safe transportation through Blossom Bus, and they were ecstatic! Pooja’s dream had been to complete her studies and work professionally so she can support her family in the absence of her father. With the consent of her mother, reassured by the presence of 49 other Rajasthan girls on the bus, Pooja’s dream was revived and now she is back in school!

When women have so much to offer their communities, it is tragic to see their potential unrealized simply because they lack transportation to school. The cost to provide transportation assistance to a young scholar is only $150 for an entire year!

Lotus Outreach is striving to make sure as many girls as possible can get an education. Still, hundreds of girls we have identified are waiting to get on the Blossom Bus. Donate today and help a girl realize her dreams and actualize her fullest potential!

The newest group of Blossom Bus riders!
The newest group of Blossom Bus riders!
 
   

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