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.
Jan 6, 2015

Namthorng Leaps Far Beyond Social Norms!

Namthorng at the Royal University of Phnom Penh
Namthorng at the Royal University of Phnom Penh

The following report is a true testament to the huge success of this program and its sister high school program GATE (Girls’ Access to Education). It demonstrates the strong will these girl scholars have to learn and succeed, if only given the basic support necessary. It is a tragedy that less than 2% of women in Cambodia possess education beyond high school. Help us change this destructive trend!

Twenty-two-year-old Namthorng originally from the Banteay Meanchey Province of Cambodia, entered Lotus Outreach’s program as an extremely poor student. Through her hard work she was able to receive a tertiary scholarship to enter university, and is now a highly sought after computer systems network administrator working in Phnom Penh. We were able to meet with Namthorng and interview her at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, where many GATEways scholars currently study.

The sense of growth in these girls between high school where they’re too shy to speak English and the tertiary level where they know enough English and have the confidence to use what they have, is extremely encouraging. This growth from high school to college is so large as these girls are now picking between multiple job offers, earning really good money and operating with confidence in a 21st century context. It shows the true strength of this program.

We never could have known how successful this program now going into it’s tenth year would be. This is real social development, not only in the girls themselves, but also in the impact on their families and rural communities. These scholars are simply showing that girls can succeed and achieve like boys in school and also in finding well-paid jobs. It is turning social norms on their head and helping erase cultural boundaries for the better.

Namthorng tells us, “I was supported by Lotus Outreach for 2 years in the GATE program before being assisted again by LO to win a position at PNC for a two year education course in IT.”

“After graduating I applied for a job at Cloud Net Cambodia where I work as a Sales Executive selling website design and finding clients to buy their product. I actually applied as a network administrator to set up computer systems, which is what I am trained for, but I decided to do this work as it is giving me experience that I don’t have. Many companies called me to interview so I have a lot of options and while I am now earning an OK salary of $200 a month, I’ve been offered $300 and could easily get $500 after a short time doing this kind of work.”

We asked Namthorng, “Did you ever think while living in Kob this would ever happen for you?”

She replied, “In my dream I always hoped that I could get a high salary but could not imagine that I would ever be able to study in such a good university and get such great qualifications. English is very important for getting a good job and I could not have got that without the PNC training where we focused on English 20 hours per week.

Namthorng continued, “When I go home I always tell my neighbors they should convince their children and grandchildren to try hard to study and get educated and don’t look down on others or listen to those giving negative opinions...When I was studying IT at PNC I lived in a shared house with 20 other girls. I was house leader and set ground rules to ensure we could live together peacefully such as a 10 pm curfew, no walking alone in the street at night, sharing housework and being honest with each other.”

We could never have hoped for such tremendous outcomes ten years earlier when we began supporting girls from poor Cambodian families and advocating for education as a tool to reduce violence against women, which has brought profound and definite change. The success of great young women like Namthorng emerging as leaders and role models in their communities definitely makes it all worthwhile! Help us sponsor more scholars and future leaders like Namthorng! Thank you!

GATEways Scholars Jump in Joy!
GATEways Scholars Jump in Joy!

Links:

Jan 2, 2015

Chantha's Confidence and Stitching Skills

Chantha Learns to Sew!
Chantha Learns to Sew!

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. Take a look at Chantha's story:

Chantha, 29 years old, is the first of 7 siblings. She had to drop out of school in sixth grade in 1999 to work in Phnom Penh to help support her family. To make matters more difficult, her father died of Malaria in 2000, pushing her family into severe debt and deeper into poverty.

When Chantha arrived in Phnom Penh alone in 1999, she worked in 2 garment factories for over 10 years for a very small salary. Her health deteriorated as she became weak and got sick quite often. She then became a hostess at a beer garden working long hours, hoping to restore her health. Once she learned about NFE classes and sewing training at the beginning of this year, she decided to change her workplace to another beer garden so that she could attend class from 8am to 4pm during the week in addition to working her new job.

She decided to take the NFE classes in part to improve her skills so she could read menus, write orders and communicate properly with others at work. In addition, before joining NFE, she was at a fourth grade literacy level, but now after just one year in the program her level is as high as 10th grade. In addition, she is now able to do advanced multiplication and division whereas before she could only multiply numbers with 1 digit and she was unable to divide.

Chantha is very happy and proud of herself now that she can stand on her own feet with confidence. She exclaimed, “Before, I normally just followed others. I didn’t have my own thoughts or decisions… I can [now] plan for my future. I have my own ideas and thoughts. I don’t have to follow what others tell me to do anymore.”

Chantha also gets support from the program on health issues and often consults with the project officer on any concerns she has. Moreover, with ongoing encouragement and training from the program, she also started to save (for the first time ever) in order to run a tailoring business in the future. By the end of this winter, she is going to buy a sewing machine for roughly $200 in order to sew at home in her free time to earn extra money. Actually, she is already making additional money from sewing as people have asked her to make clothes for them after seeing the dress she made for herself.

Chantha requests the program to continue supporting other women in crisis like her, because without education and only minor skills, they cannot do anything to truly help themselves. Last but not least, she would like to sincerely thank the program and donors for giving her this precious opportunity to build invaluable skills and self-confidence!

Chantha Finishes Her Own Dress
Chantha Finishes Her Own Dress
Chantha (Left) Wears New Dress!
Chantha (Left) Wears New Dress!

Links:

Dec 23, 2014

Paying the Gift of Education Forward!

Thaeg smiles at her new job!
Thaeg smiles at her new job!

The Phnong Education Initiative (PEI) provides scholarships to children in profound need in Cambodia, which include housing assistance so they can live closer to school and complete their studies. Furthermore, PEI supports training for Phnong-speaking teachers so they can return to their home villages and pay forward the gift of education by helping other linguistic minorities succeed in the public school system.

This past fall, Thaeg, aged 18, completed her 2-year PEI training program and passed her final examination with funding provided by Lotus Outreach. After her completion of high school and teacher training, Thaeg became a teacher at Sre Iy primary school this past November.

Thaeg commented on her difficulties in school as a young, minority child and her dream of becoming a teacher in order to help other minorities like herself succeed.

“Teaching is my favorite job and [was] my dream when I studied at primary school because my ex-primary school teacher, Ms. Sophea, had encouraged me... She is friendly to students and is a very supportive teacher. She is always in my heart and I would like to say thank you to her. When I was in grade 1, I was not able to communicate well in the Khmer national language while it was taught in the classroom, as I am a Phnong speaking child. I could not understand and learn quickly, because I was often absent from school because I felt I made too many mistakes when I talked to my teacher in the Khmer language. Because of this, I had to repeat the first grade.

I understood the situation and I am now a primary teacher who can speak two languages—Khmer and Phnong– and it is very easy for me to teach students, especially Phnong children in early grades, to learn and communicate well in Khmer. I am excited to meet new teachers, students and communities in my new school. I hope to see many Phnong minority youth [obtain] jobs in the government sector. In 2 years, I would like to be a secondary school teacher...”

Help others like Thaeg receive education and give back to their communities. Access to education is a universal right that we at Lotus Outreach believe all should receive. Support us in taking further steps in this hugely impactful direction!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

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