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 15, 2015

Stories from Blossom Bus

Lotus Outreach’s Blossom Bus service, unique in the State of Haryana, was recently featured by Gov’t of Haryana at a presentation of best practices in Education to the Indian Ministry of Human Resources and Development (MHRD). The program addresses lack of safe forms of transport to school for girls. Lack of transportation is one of the root causes of poor attendance and drop outs for girls across India. 

In this quarter we continue to carry 254 girls to all levels of secondary schooling as well as 20 young Blossom Bus women, now in their 20s that have graduated high school and are now attending Colleges some 10 kms from their homes. These girls are from poor villages and many are the first in their family to be achieving a secondary and/or college education. 

Here below are stories from three Blosson Bus community role models and one story from a father of two Blossom Bus girls.

I am Ritu, resident of village Bhanguri in Hathin block and I am studying in Saraswati Mahila College Palwal. I was travelling to college by Auto rickshaw and was facing problem like harassment by boys. It was not safe to walk to college as it is too far from my village and I was not able to reach college on time. Due to this problem villagers hesitate to send their daughters to college and the girls have to leave studies after school. The girls have two options in these situations, either face the harassment if you want to go to college or drop out. Now with Blossom Bus made available, we do not have to wait for Auto and we reach college on time and we are all very happy.

My name is Sapna, daughter of Sukhbir. The Blossom Bus being provided by Lotus Outreach is very useful for us. We are able to save a lot of time which was wasted earlier waiting for Autos which is not a regular feature and we were not able to reach college on time. This time we can utilize for our studies. We used to reach college late without the Bus and the teachers refused to mark our attendance, this problem is now solved because of the Bus. Our parents also were worried when we used to come home late due to no public transportation. Now our parents are also happy and feel comfortable because of the Blossom Bus. We are able to continue our studies due to Blossom Bus and request that the service be continued in the interest of girls who are prone to drop out in absence of a safe transport.

My name is Sarita, daughter of Birbal, resident of village Bhanguri. I passed grade 12 three years ago and could not go to college as there was no safe public transport available from the village. The buses between Bhanguri and Palwal were badly crowded and arrived at irregular times. My parents were not satisfied with the situation and I was forced to sit at home though I wanted to go to college.

Last year after my younger sister Babita passed her grade 12 exam, we came to know that there is a safe bus being made available by Lotus Outreach to transport girls to college for free. We both then enrolled in Saraswati Girls College in Palwal and now we both are studying in 2nd year graduation course. 

 The Blossom Bus is a blessing for us, we hope to complete our graduation with this facility and we are hoping to study further also. Therefore, we request that this facility may be continued and even enhanced to accommodate more girls as there are many more girls who have dropped out after passing school and are willing to attend college for further studies but are sitting at home as there is no bus facility available to cater to the demand.

My name is Birbal, resident of Bhanguri and father of Sarita. I am a poor man and earn my livelihood through working as laborer doing odd jobs in village in Palwal. I feel happy because both my daughters are now studying in college. I could not have sent my daughters to college because of meager earnings and my elder daughter dropped out after passing school. She could enroll in the college after losing one year only because the Blossom Bus.

Blossom Bus encouraged me to get both my daughters enrolled in the college and they are now studying together and are happy. I would like to allow my daughters to even study for Masters Degree if the Blossom Bus will be available to them in future also. Thank you.

From these sincere stories we can be sure that Blossom Bus is providing hope and safety to the lives of girls in India. Thank you to all that support this important cause. With your partnership we continue to make a different in these young girls lives.

From left to right, Sarita, Babit, Sapna and Ritu
From left to right, Sarita, Babit, Sapna and Ritu
Blossom Bus riders jump for joy!
Blossom Bus riders jump for joy!
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
 
   

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