Sep 3, 2019

A Gift of Hope for Sopheak

Sopheak
Sopheak

Meet Sopheak. Sopheak is from Nokor Krao Village, Kouk Chork Commune, Siem Reap District, Siem Reap Province. She lives with her family in a small house with palm leaves for walls and a roof made of tin. 

At 12 years old, she is the first daughter in the family of two children. She is studying in sixth grade, her younger sister is 6 and in first grade. Her father (36) works as temple construction worker and her mother (30) as a cleaner at a private company. Both parents are illiterate.

Sopheak's father can make around $4 a day for 22 days a month and her mother's salary is $75/month. With such meager income, it’s challenging for the family to get by. Their home is 3.5 km away from the nearest school and without the needed funds to buy Sopheak a bicycle, her only option is to walk to school everyday. 

"I always arrived to school late and didn't get to help my classmates clean the classroom and I feel bad about that," Sopheak explained. "Sometimes I would ask my friend for a lift and other times my parents took me to school; however, when my parents took me to school, they got to work late because the school and their workplace are in different directions."

Can you imagine how Sopheak felt when she received a new bicycle from Lotus Pedals? She was beside herself. She couldn't stop smiling! Now she makes it to school on time and, in addition to having access to education, she also gets to help her classmates clean the classroom. 

"I feel so good that I don't need to bother my friends any more," she shared. "My parents don't have to get to work late because of me. I can even give my younger sister a ride to school, as well!"

Sopheak wants to be an English teacher someday. She wants to help younger generations in her town learn English so they can find good jobs. 

She is grateful; for the bicycle and for the newfound hope in her future. And we are so excited to see her carry this gratitude forward as she pursues an education with the absolutely noble intention of helping others. 

Thank you for your donations. Thank you for your generosity. This work goes out like ripples in water, creating hope and a brighter future for generations to come!  

Sopheak and her mother at home
Sopheak and her mother at home
Sopheak receives a bicycle
Sopheak receives a bicycle

Links:

Aug 26, 2019

Building Leaders for a Better Future

Following the leader with eyes closed
Following the leader with eyes closed

In May, we took our CATALYST scholars on a study visit where they were given leadership training. One month before the trip, we asked all 44 CATALYST scholars who wished to be leaders during the study visit to nominate themselves for a vote. Nine ran for the election and seven students were elected to lead small groups of six members each. 

The group leaders were given a budget to take care of their member's food and transportation. Group members were from different provinces. They first had to come to Phnom Penh, the capital city, and then the following day, travel by bus from Phnom Penh to Mondulkiri Province.

The leaders had to keep receipts of their members' transportation costs and get each member to sign on a form whenever they were given money for food. Additionally, each group was tasked with a main responsibility:

  • Group 1: Prepare snacks for everyone for morning of the first day as we didn't have time to stop for breakfast on the way, and handing t-shirts & scarfs to year one students
  • Group 2: Make sure there's water for everyone
  • Group 3: Maintain hygiene and hand out study visit pass to everyone
  • Group 4: Count members when getting back on the bus
  • Group 5: Prepare study visit banner for group photo shoot and for tying to the front of the bus 
  • Group 6: Take care of the study materials to be given to primary school students
  • Group 7: Take care of materials for leadership training 

In the evening of the second day, all the CATALYSTAS were led to play some leadership games such as: 

  • Pass the Hoop:This game involves having a group stand in a circle and hold hands. One of the people in the circle has a hula hoop around their arm. The idea is to pass the hula hoop all the way around the circle. This strengthens teamwork and problem solving skills, crucial for any leader, as they’re not working in a vacuum. Most importantly it teaches communication, which might be the most fundamental skill for any successful leader.
  • Blind-lead v.s. Sight-lead: For this game, a leader or "head of the line" is chosen and the members all line up behind the leader. At first all the members are asked to close their eyes and follow the leader when she moves around. After that all the members follow the leader with their eyes open. The followers must decide whether or not to follow the leader when they can and cannot see. This activity involves leadership and building trust. 
  • Building the Highest, Strongest and Most Beautiful Building: Students are divided into three groups and are given five minutes to build the highest, strongest and most beautiful building out of whatever they can find at the spot. 

After playing these games, the students were asked to reflect on what they had learned.

Sophin gave her take on 'Pass the Hoop' game: "The game required us to work collaboratively to pass the hoop and to come up with creative problem-solving strategies to move the hoop around the group. It also trained us be quick but cautious."

Sarik reflected on Building the Highest, Strongest and Most Beautiful Building: "To achieve the goal, someone had to take the lead and assign tasks, including watching the time, to all the members. It required creativity, teamwork and good communication."   

Samnang expressed her feelings regarding the Blind Lead game: "I first found the game very difficult because I couldn't see, I didn't know where the leader led us to and I was worried that I would step on something or trip, so I didn't want to follow my leader. However, after a while I decided to put my trust in the leader and just followed her steps then I become less anxious and everything went well."

Another leader, Sreynich, interjected: "As a leader, we cannot just choose the smooth and easy roads; otherwise, there won't be improvement/development. We have to challenge our team so they become stronger and can deal with all sorts of obstacles, that's why after leading them through easy path for a while, I decided to take some rough roads."  

The trip wrapped up with electing the best leader among the seven. Gifts, as well as certificates of appreciation, were given to all the leaders. The girls found the training very useful and interesting and could not thank the program and all the donors enough for making it happen. They hope there will be more training opportunities in the future!

Following the leader with eyes closed
Following the leader with eyes closed
Pass the hoop
Pass the hoop
The team leaders
The team leaders

Links:

Jul 23, 2019

We've doubled our riders on Blossom Bus!

We are delighted to report that we’ve doubled the number of girls in our Blossom Bus program from 327 to more than 600 riders onboard during the first month of the academic session following the Indian school’s summer break.

The Blossom Bus fleet has increased from seven to eleven buses and we may need a few more busses should the tiny alleys and rough roads of rural Rajasthan and Haryana prove too difficult for the larger buses that are currently in service.

Putting another 300 girls on our buses was not at all problematic; in fact we had a waiting list of around 250 girls ready to board as soon as seats became available.

Availability of buses in these remote areas inhabited by minority communities of agrarian farmers is quickly changing local attitudes toward the importance of girl’s education and just what they are capable of. The fact that forty of our riders are enrolled in master’s programs has a deep impact on the collective mindset in villages where very few have completed school above grade eight. 

We have included a letter from the Education Department of the Government of Haryana to our local NGO in India, White Lotus. The letter praises our work and assures us support in the communities and schools we are planning to add to those currently being served.

All aboard the Blossom Bus!


Attachments:
 
WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.