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.
Aug 21, 2012

"I never dreamed that I would go to school again"

Sangita, with her proud grandmother
Sangita, with her proud grandmother

My name is Sangita and I belong to a lower-caste family in Bhanguri village. After I passed grade eight in 2011 from Aharvan School, my father and grandmother asked me to stop going to school as it was not safe to walk three kilometers through the village of upper-caste people, as they generally do not like girls from lower-caste families going to school because it challenges their supremacy. I had no option as I could not object to my parents' wishes. I felt very bad when I saw girls from upper-caste families going to private schools in buses hired by their parents.

I had to stay home for a whole academic year until one day, my friend from school told me that one NGO is providing transport to the girls from Muslim families attending Aharvan School. I had no idea how to approach that NGO and I am not Muslim too. My friends at school helped me and one day I met the representative of Lotus Outreach, who was providing transport. I was very happy to know that the NGO was going to add more girls to the bus and I requested them to add me to the list.

Lotus Outreach was going door-to-door to identify girls who were supposed to drop out after grade five, as our village has only one primary school and so the girls must drop out once they reach grade six because parents won’t let 11 and 12 year-old girls walk alone to a distant school. Lotus Outreach found 40 girls in our village who either dropped out last year or were scheduled to drop out this year after passing grade five.

I was lucky to get a seat on the Blossom Bus and was enrolled again and returned to school. My grandmother initially felt uncomfortable, but when she was informed that over 150 girls are travelling on the Blossom Bus which has been running for three years, she not only agreed but also handed out sweets to the girls on the bus! My grandmother was even happier than I was, as her sons could never study much because of non-availability of resources, but now her granddaughter can study and become a model for the lower-caste families living in the village.

I am happy to be in school, enjoy the bus ride and enjoy my studies. I hope that I can one day graduate high school and get a good job. I want to study not only for my own development, but I want to help motivate parents of all girls from lower-caste families to go to school too.

Thank you Blossom Bus!!!

Three of 46 girls to recently return to school
Three of 46 girls to recently return to school

Links:

Jul 25, 2012

"Thank you!" from Chea and friends

Chea tries out her new bike and pump
Chea tries out her new bike and pump

On July 12, Lotus Pedals delivered brand new bicycles and pumps to five promising young women enrolled in our Girls’ Access to Education (GATE) scholarship program in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to ensure they could get to school safely.

In urban environments like Phnom Penh, girls often face harassment and abuse while walking to school alone, and their risk increases as they reach adolescence, both as a result of their age and the longer commute to secondary school.

We interviewed one of the new Lotus Pedals recipients, Chea Daraty, who describes the danger she faced before receiving the bicycle.  Watch her short interview by clicking the link below.

Thank you again for helping us pave a way to school for hundreds of Cambodian girls each year.  To learn more about this project or pledge additional support, please visit http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/lotuspedals/

Happy girls!
Happy girls!

Links:

Jul 16, 2012

A New Life for Srey Leak

This month our team visited NFE graduate Srey Leak ("lee-ack") at her new job as a beautician in Phnom Penh’s riverside Old Market. Formerly a karoke bar worker, Leak completed NFE in 2010 and in 2011 was one of five graduates to receive additional beauty skills training from the program. LO Director of Field Operations Glenn Fawcett describes the observable change in Leak’s appearance:

“I remembered Leak’s apparent sadness and lack of energy on the many occasions we met during our visits to the karaoke bar where she lived, and could hardly believe how happy and easy going she is now,” says Glenn. “Her happiness to be away from her former life, where she was prone to abuse and exploitation, and to now be among good friends that nurture and love her is so apparent - the transformation is extreme.” 

During the visit Leak laughed often with her co-workers, and her boss, Pov described the atmosphere: “We all love each other very much.” There is little reason to doubt her sincerity – in addition to full-time work and a living wage, Pov provides Leak with free training in nail design.  

What’s more, Pov has invested heavily in a training course in Hong Kong, and is saving to open up her own training school. It’s clear that Leak has landed in a positive, future-focused environment where she will have room to thrive, living on her own terms.  

“I will continue to add to my skills,” says Leak. “I plan to open my own small business in this market, maybe on this very spot when Pov opens her training school.”

While Pov partially hired Leak out of pity for an orphaned young woman trying to make a better life for herself, Leak wouldn’t have been a viable candidate without the training in hair, nails and make-up she received from NFE.

Bridging the small gap in education and training to make these women marketable in their communities is precisely what NFE is designed to do, and it makes us incredibly happy to see this come to fruition in a case like Leak’s. Thank you so much for making these happy endings possible!

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