Having been on halt for many months due to Covid-19, finally Lotus Pedals is back in action! Although students are still doing distance learning and online study, they have been going to take handouts from teachers at school a few times a week. To ensure an easy and safe commute for those who live far from school, 157 bicycles were distributed in September! 77 bikes went to students of Girls' Education Initiative Project in partnership with KAPE in Kompong Cham Province & Tbong Khmum Provinces and another 80 bicycles were awarded to scholarship students of Girls' Access To Education in partnership with CWCC in Siem Reap Province.
After the distribution, we randomly visited several recipients at their home and Lida was one of them. When we arrived at her home, we saw the new bicycle standing beneath the house and her mother weaving a mat. She told us that Lida had gone to look for a red thread to tie around her wrist as a blessing for getting a new bicycle. This symbolic action alone tells us how much the bicycle means to her. A short while later, Lida came back with the red thread and we were able to talk with her about her family, school, challenges and dreams.
Lida is 15 years old, studying in 7th grade at Angkor Thom Lower Secondary School in Siem Reap Province. She is the youngest of 9 siblings. Only 3 of the siblings have received some level of education, Lida and one other are the only ones in school currently. The rest of the siblings and her parents have received no education at all.
Lida and her family live 2 kms from school, a commute she has made by foot since she was in 1st grade. She is very happy and excited to have received a bicycle for the first time! Lida said, "With this bicycle, I will get to school on time and won't be afraid any more. Before, I had to take a shortcut through a rice field which is very quiet and I was always afraid that someone would hurt me. When it rained, the rice field became very muddy and slippery. I had to keep my school uniform and books in a plastic bag to prevent them from getting dirty and I changed when I arrived at school."
Lida is inspired by her father, a former soldier. She also wants to become a soldier because she wants to protect people, their properties and Khmer territory. However, her mother doesn't want her to do that because it is dangerous. She wants Lida to be a teacher or a doctor. Considering her mother's wish, Lida has a second career option which is a doctor. When asked about her hopes for Lida, her mother replied, "I want her to have higher education because those who are well-educated get good jobs. For example, the relatives on my husband's side, they are all well-educated and now they are school principals, teachers, working for NGO etc., while my older children, who have no education, are doing seasonal labor work."
We are so happy to have this crucial program up and running once again and to see first hand girls like Lida riding towards their dreams. Thank you so much for your generous support for this project.