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.
Oct 12, 2015

Ratana and her Lotus Pedals

Ratana and her friend with their bikes
Ratana and her friend with their bikes

The following project explores Ratanas’s long-term pursuit of her education. Ratana’s story starts within our CWCC program and traces her steps up to her Lotus Pedals bike!

Ratana, 24 years old, is originally from Muk Wat Village, Kompong Klang Commune, Sout Nikum District, Siem Reap Province. Her parents are farmers. She has 5 siblings—2 girls and 3 boys—and she is the oldest child. Unfortunately, when Ratana was young, there was domestic violence within her home. Ratana’s mother decided to seek intervention from the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center (CWCC) and spent several months staying in CWCC’s safe shelter.

Through her relationship with CWCC, when Ratana was in sixth grade, she was chosen to be a recipient of the Girls’ Access To Education (GATE) project implemented by CWCC with funding support from Lotus Outreach. When the program first found her, she was so discouraged and about to drop out due to both poverty and domestic violence. “When I was in primary school, my father always drank alcohol and came home beating my mother. I got so depressed and ashamed that I didn’t want to go to school any more”, Ratana said.

Having been in the GATE program, Ratana gained her aspiration and strive back for a better future. Ratana studied hard and eventually graduated from high school in 2011, which wouldn’t have happened without the support of the program. While she was so excited and eager to pursue her dreams, her heart fell and sank once again given that her family could not support her to pursue her study at university. She was thinking about giving up her dreams and looking for labor job to support her family. Luckily, Lotus Outreach decided to continue supporting GATE graduates to do tertiary education (under another project called GATEways) and Ratana qualified for it! “I thought that I had no fortune to attend university like other students since my family couldn’t afford it. Without the supporting from the program, I would surely be working in the farms right now”, she said.

Nowadays, Ratana is a third year student of midwifery at Regional Training Center of Battambang. With the supporting from GATEways program, Ratana has been receiving 15kg rice support every month, monthlystipend, accommodation, utility, English and French tuition, and computer course.

Living far from home is not easy for Ratana and without any transportation of her own, Ratana often walks many miles to school. Sometimes, she was late for her classes and couldn’t concentrate on her studies other times she had to walk through dangerous parts of town. Moreover, she was participating in an internship at one of the local hospital in Battambang province in mid August and was worried about how she would commute there. Ratana wished that she could have a bicycle that would take her to school and her internship. In responding to this simple wish of hers, Lotus Pedals, implemented by Lotus Outreach Cambodia, gave a bicycle to Ratana on August 8, 2015 in Battambang Province with facilitation from GATEways project officer. Ratana was extremely delighted and grateful to the program for always responding to her needs. “I am very thankful to donor for always supporting me, both with my study and my living. I am very happy and truly appreciate this kind and caring gesture toward me. This bike will help me a lot with my transportation to school and to work. I would like to wish all the people who have been making this possible for me to come this far with all the best of luck, health, wealth, success and prosperity.”, Ratana expressed her feeling.

Ratana and her Lotus Pedals
Ratana and her Lotus Pedals
Oct 5, 2015

Since second grade.

Kanha receives monthly rice from the program
Kanha receives monthly rice from the program

The beneficiaries of our GATEway program are thriving in their studies and making plans for their professional futures. Many of them have studied with us through gradeschool up to university. The following explores Kanha’s story, a recipient who has been supported through out programs since she was in second grade.

Kanha, 21 years old, lives in Bitmeas village, Somroeng Commune, Sout Nikum district, Siem Reap province. She has 4 siblings and is the second child. When Kahna was young, her parents went through a challenging separation. Since then, her father has passed away and she now lives with her sick mother. In response to being diagnosed with a serious illness, Kahna’s mother was forced to sell all of their families farming land to help pay for her medical expenses. This has put a lot of economic pressure on her family and the whole family now relies on the eldest sisters income who works in Siem Reap Province. All of her siblings are attending school, so the money from her sister can hardly support the whole family. Kanha has had a hard time staying in school. With a single mother who is ill at home, and no father, she has had to overcome many obstacles.

In 2008, Kanha was selected to be a scholarship recipient of Girls’ Access To Education (GATE) program in Siem Reap province with funding support from Lotus Outreach in partnership with Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center (CWCC). The scholarship was a great help to her family and enabled Kahna to stay in school and continue her studies.

However, life has proved to be difficult for Kahna. After she graduated from high school, and with the goal to continue on to university, she was met with an even greater hurdle; paying for college. Her sister would not have enough money to support Kahna while still supporting her younger siblings. Kanha was very hopeless and discouraged. She did not want to continue her studies and wanted to find labor work to do to support her family. Luckily, Lotus Outreach wanted to continue supporting GATE graduates to do tertiary education (under another project called GATEways). Ratana qualified for it and was admitted to GATEways program in 2012. Kanha and her family were very happy as the program provides her with a monthly stipend, accommodation, food, English and French classes, tuition and computer course as well as rice support of 15kgs every month. This brought Kanha so much hope for future. With the rice that she gets she often sends some to her family as they have trouble getting food because of the loss if their farming land. Even though attending university has been a great feat for Kahna, she still worries about her family. “Every time I visit my mother and see her living condition, I always think about quitting my study to find a job to help her. However, with on-going encouragement and consulting from the program, I gained my aspiration back and get more confident to continue my study and strive for a better future,” she said.

Currently Kanha is studying nursing in year II at Chenla University in Phnom Penh. She is renting a house that is far from her university but less expensive. She faces a lot of problems with traveling to school. Transportation in Phnom Penh city is expensive, which she can’t afford to pay for it every day. In order to go to school everyday, she goes with her friend who has motorbike and is studying at the same university. However, depending on her friend for rides is very difficult with different university schedules. She often missed her classes or arrives late. To ease her commute to school and to respond to her need, the program provided her with a bicycle, which helps her to get to school.

Kanha is very grateful with all the support spiritually and financially. GATE and GATEways has supported her since she was in secondary school until now. She would like to thank donors and the program that have never left her alone and have always cared for her. Kahnu expressed “I would like to sincerely thank donors and the program for supporting my study since I was in secondary school until now. Without your help, I would not be able to attend university and I would have migrated to do labor work in Thailand.”

 

Kanha receives a bike through the program
Kanha receives a bike through the program
Sep 30, 2015

NFE: Muon's path

Lotus Outreach’s Non-Formal Education (NFE) program serves over 100 young women working to escape sex-work and harsh labor by learning basic skills like literacy and numeracy, in addition to skills like sewing, food service and cosmetology. Beyond skills and education, these girls and young women gain a new found self-confidence. Here is Muon's Story:

Muon is 24 years old. She was born in Prey Lich Village, Ahcha Leak Commune, Steung Sen District, Kompong Thom Province. She is the youngest among her 5 siblings (2 girls and 3 boys). When Muon was young, her parents got divorced. Her father eventually remarried and her mom passed away when she was in 8th grade. Muon has lived with her Uncle on her mom’s side who has four children. Muon’s uncle was very poor so she worked on the weekends to save money to buy her school uniform and materials. She often helped her uncle farm after school.

Once she had lived with her uncle for 4 years, she was sent back to live with her father because her uncle could no longer afford to feed her. While living with her father she had to sell vegetables at market to earn the means to support her education.

With all the struggle and difficulties Muon had been through, she successfully graduated high school in 2013. Without support and guidance after graduating, Muon ended up working in a beer garden as a hostess in Phnom Penh. She was told by a neighbor who had worked in the beer garden that she could earn $100 + tips. Women who work in Beer gardens make a good salary but are also pressured to make arrangements with men. Muon said that before working in the beer garden, she didn’t know the nature of the work. Muon just wanted to be able to make enough money to support herself.

When Muon first started the work, she was very shocked that she was made to sit and drink with customers to entertain. She was approached for sex often, but always refused. Still, she was physically and verbaly harassed everyday. Although Muon disliked her job, she didn’t know that she had other options. She continued to stay in the business until one day her friend (NFE graduate) told her about NFE program. Muon was told that it was not just about learning to read and write (something that didn’t interested her because she already graduated high school) but also about health issues, life skills, setting goals, skill training such as tailoring, beauty skill and cooking etc. Having heard that, she decided to enroll in NFE program in April 2015. Muon started taking classes and she found out that she really enjoys both literacy and sewing classes.

Eventhough she graduated high school, she still finds the NFE program very useful and interesting. The subjects are much more relevant and more practical than what are being taught in the curriculum of formal education. Muon lives 2kms from her NFE/sewing class so the program has provided her with a bicycle so that she can continue to study and do skill training.

Since she joined the program, Moun has been studying very hard. She is only working one shift at the beer garden now and dedicates the rest of her time to learning literacy and doing tailoring skill training. She hopes to have her own tailoring business in the future so that she doesn’t have to continue working at the beer garden. She wishes to recontrsuct her life so that she never has to face the men at the beer garden who take advantage of her.

She is very happy having joined the program as she has been receiving great mentoring from the programs officers and teachers. She feels the warmth and care the program staff and is very happy to be in a positive environment. Most importantly, Muon is starting to form a plan for her future and how she will achieve it. She would like to express her gratitude to the program staff and the donors, without whom she wouldn’t see light of her life and future.

Muon with her bike provided by LO
Muon with her bike provided by LO
Muon on the left with her NFE friends
Muon on the left with her NFE friends
 

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