Lotus Pedals - Help Cambodian Girls Get to School!

by Lotus Outreach
Lotus Pedals - Help Cambodian Girls Get to School!
Lotus Pedals - Help Cambodian Girls Get to School!
Lotus Pedals - Help Cambodian Girls Get to School!
Lotus Pedals - Help Cambodian Girls Get to School!
Lotus Pedals - Help Cambodian Girls Get to School!
Lotus Pedals - Help Cambodian Girls Get to School!
Lotus Pedals - Help Cambodian Girls Get to School!
Lotus Pedals - Help Cambodian Girls Get to School!
Lotus Pedals - Help Cambodian Girls Get to School!
Lotus Pedals - Help Cambodian Girls Get to School!
Lotus Pedals - Help Cambodian Girls Get to School!
Lotus Pedals - Help Cambodian Girls Get to School!
Lotus Pedals - Help Cambodian Girls Get to School!
Lotus Pedals - Help Cambodian Girls Get to School!
Lotus Pedals - Help Cambodian Girls Get to School!
Lotus Pedals - Help Cambodian Girls Get to School!
Lotus Pedals - Help Cambodian Girls Get to School!
Lotus Pedals - Help Cambodian Girls Get to School!
Sokleap and family
Sokleap and family

In 2022, we plan to award 311 bicycle scholarships. So far, 278 have been distributed; 48 were given to beneficiaries of our partner Bayon Pastry and Primary School in Siem Reap and 42 to our long-term partner Passerelles Numériques Cambodia (PNC). 60 were given in Kampot Province, 50 in Pursat Province, 60 in Kondal Province and 18 to a new partner in Phnom Penh—Enfants d'Asie Cambodge. 

The latest giveaway was in Takeo Province in May of 2022. 60 bicycles were given to students from 3 schools in very remote locations. The main source of income for people living in these areas is cutting bamboo to sell or weaving grass roof tiles for sale otherwise, many people migrate to the capital city in search of labor work. During the bike giveaway ceremony, we told the recipients about our CATALYST program that gives scholarships to girls to pursue their university degrees. We hoped to inspire them to stay in school through year 12 even through the daily challenges that they face in such a remote region. We could see many of the girls excited by the idea of attending college. 

After the bike giveaway ceremonies, we followed a few students home to see their living condition and travel the long roads they take to and from school each day. 

Sokleap is 13 years old, studying in 6th grade. She has 2 younger brothers. Her father works in Phnom Penh driving a sand dredger, and her mother cuts bamboo to sell. Sokleap used to walk to school which took her 40 minutes. When it rained, she couldn't go because all of her belongings would get soaked. With a bicycle, Sokleap can get to school quickly and on time. "With this bicycle, I won't be late for school anymore, and even when it rains, I still can pedal to school. I am very delighted!” She says she aspires to be a primary school teacher! 

Sokleap’s school only goes through the sixth grade, after which the distance to the nearest secondary school is 10 kilometers. With the bicycle, we hope that Sokleap has the option to continue past 6th grade as well. 

 

Sreythorn is 14 years old, studying in 6th grade. She is the youngest daughter of 4 children. She doesn't have a father and her mother weaves grass roof tiles to sell. Her elder siblings all dropped out at 9th grade to help their mother earn a living. Sreythorn used to walk to school alone. She said: "I feel scared, so scared that someone would abuse me on the way. I don't know how long it takes me to get to school, but I just know that it takes very very long. I have to pack lunch from home to eat at school because my house is too far from school to come back for lunch; I only come home in the evening. Thank you very much for giving me a bicycle. It helps me to travel faster and feel safe. I am excited!” How far are you going to stay in school? She replied with a big smile on her face, "I am aspired to be a doctor, so I will finish high school and apply for scholarship from your organization to study at university." With her determined look, we believe that she will make it, especially since she's already planned to stay at her aunt's house when she has to go to study at 7th grade at the nearest lower secondary school which is more than 10 kms from home. 

We couldn't have made this possible without your generous and ongoing support. We believe that together we can make a difference in many girls' lives, not just through high school but into college and professional life. Thank you so much!

Sreythorn with her mother
Sreythorn with her mother
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In 2021 we didn't expect to be able to give away any bicycles as schools were again closed at the beginning of March due to a Covid outbreak. Students at all levels were doing distance learning until mid-September when the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports announced that with an 88% vaccination rate, schools should begin reopening.

With this new development, Lotus Pedals was able to resume activities. By December of 2021, we had given away 69 bicycles, pumps, locks and helmets to female students who live at least 1 mile from school and were identified as being most in need of a bicycle. 

In 2022, we plan to give away 311 bicycle sets. In January, we were able to distribute 90 bicycles, locks, helmets and pumps, of which 48 sets were given to beneficiaries of our partner Bayon Pastry and Primary School in Siem Reap and 42 to our long-term partner in Phnom Penh Passerelles Numériques Cambodia (PNC). 

Tith Sopheameta, studying IT at Passerelles Numériques Cambodia (PNC) was very happy to receive the bicycle. "I am so delighted having received the bicycle. It is very beneficial to me. I can get to school fast and on time. My school also has sport activities outdoors and far from school, so it is pretty convenient that I have my ride to get there. Besides, when I am stressed, biking helps me feel better. I am very grateful for this precious gift."

Thank you for your generous and ongoing support. None of what we do would possible without you! Thank you. 

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At the beginning of the new academic year (February 2021), Lotus Pedals provided bicycles to 12 of our CATALYST university students. Bicycles help scholars get back and forth to college and extra curricular acitvities and are a safe, independent and enjoyable means of transportation. We are so happy to be able to continue to gift bikes to beneficiaries, who relish the freedom these simple vehicles provide. 

Manavy is a first-year student in English Literature. She lives with her father on a plot of rented land in Siem Reap. When Manavy was in primary school, she had to walk, or catch a ride to school because her parents couldn't afford to buy her a bicycle. Her mother sold deep fried bananas on the street, while her father cleared weeds and grass on people's farms and properties, earning on average $1.25 per day. They worked hard because they wanted Manavy to have education, but their combined income was not enough to even buy rice to eat, let alone afford study materials and school uniforms for her, so they had to borrow money to keep her in school. Manavy still remembers her mother telling her: "life is very difficult without education, so you have to have some knowledge because only education can help you get out of poverty in the future and I cannot take care of you forever." She says it is her mother's words that inspire her to pursue her studies and never give up, regardless of how challenging her family situation is. 

In high school, Manavy got a scholarship which allowed her to complete her studies and graduate. Unfortunately, around this time, her mother fell very sick and they had to borrow money from a relative to treat her condition, but even after treatments, her mother continued to detiorate and passed away in March of 2020. With her mother gone, her father was coping with his loss and also worried about the debt they had accumulated, it was an incredibly challening time for their family and they worried about making ends meet. After some time, her father found a salaried job as a gardener, earning $125 each month. With this salary, they are able to pay for rent, food, medicine and other daily expenses.

Manavy found out about CATALYST scholarship from her friend who saw the announcement on Facebook. She applied, passed the social audit and was admitted into the program in February 2021. She was given a bicycle to commute to university, in addition to routine CATALYST support which includes monthly allowance, school fees, accommodation, computer & English tuition fee, textbook money and 15kg rice per month.

Manavy is very grateful for the support. She said, " Lotus Outreach is like my second family who always cares and makes sure I have all the means to acquire education. My father used to drop me at school before going to work, and I used to ask for a lift from friends to get back home, but now I have the bike so that I can pedal 3kms to college, 4kms to study English and practice using computer at CATALYST residential home, exercise with my friends, go to the market and library etc. With the bicycle, I can roam freely which is pretty convenient, unlike before when I couldn't go anywhere due to not having a means of transportation."         

Manavy would like to thank to Lotus Outreach and donors for supporting her. In the future, she wants to teach tourism at local and international universities. Thank you so much for your ongoing support and for building better futures for young women like Manavy. 

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Thang is a first year student studying Business Management at Build Bright University in Phnom Penh with the support of our CATALYST program. She is the sixth child in a family of 7 children and the only child who is fortunate enough to have come this far in her education. Her siblings either have no education at all or have reached the 2nd or 3rd grade at most.

Their family struggled financially throughout her entire life. Her mother grew vegetables on a small scale and Thang helped make a living by selling vegetables on the street since the time she was in 2nd grade. From grades 1 to grade 9 she walked 3 kms to school every day. Thang said " It was very difficult having no means of transportation to get to school; sometimes I wanted to drop out, but because I love studying, I was willing to walk to school."

Her family couldn't afford a bicycle because they were poor and in debt. Due to the economic hardship and having to walk a long distance to school, Thang did not do well academically. She told us, "I got very poor grades because I did not study hard, I only thought of earning money to help my mother. I thought of dropping out again when I was in grade 10 and 11 because my mother was very sick and our debt grew bigger. But my mother would not let me do so and encouraged me to stay in school regardless of how poor we became." 

Because of her mother, Thang committed to finishing high school. Finally in grade 12, the last year of high school, she qualified for scholarship support from LO in partnership with Cambodian Women's Crisis Center. With this support, Thang became more motivated. She said, "After receiving the scholarship, my family and I were very happy. The program provided me with materials for study, money for tuition classes, mental support, and good experiences. It made a difference in my study. I got good grades and successfully passed the grade 12 high school exam!" 

Unfortunately, Thang’s mother died in 2020 while Thang was pursuing her Bachelor Degree with support from Lotus Outreach's CATALYST Project. Her father is unable to work but Thang was committed to her own success as a way to help her family. In February 2021, Thang received a bicycle through Lotus Pedals to travel to her university which is 6 km from CATALYST's residential home. In March 2021, she got a job as a baker with a decent monthly salary. She is very grateful for having received the bicycle which allows her to  commute as needed to classes and work. "The bicycle is very useful for me. It takes me to school and also to work, to the market and places that I want to go. It has given me the freedom of mobility and serves as a bridge to a better future.", said Thang. "I would not be able to afford it by myself because my salary is to support my father back home who is old and cannot work and my widowed sister as well as to pay back our debt. If I didn't get the support from Lotus Outreach, I would have been doing labor work in Thailand now.Thank you so much for helping make my dreams come true. I am committed to study hard and I will not let you down," Thang expressed her gratitude.    

Thank you so much for your ongoing support to help many girls like Thang realize their dreams. Programs like Lotus Pedals address the multi layered causes of poverty that prevent girls like Thang from getting an education. With cross cutting programs and a strong system of support, we at LO hope to break the cycle of poverty from the ground up. 

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The new academic year in Cambodia finally kicked off on January 11th, 2021 after being interrupted by COVID-19 since mid-March 2020. The effects of COVID-19 have been felt at every level, from interruptions in travel, trade and investment as well as day to day happenings. The pandemic has had a particularly devastating effect on low income families whose financial hardship has been only exacerbated even as prices for goods increase. This makes our mission to ensure that girls have a way to get to school even more crucial. 

We often say: educate a girl, transform her community. By giving a girl a bicycle, we ensure she reaches school safely so that she may gain the skills she needs to succeed. When she succeeds, so too does her family and community. We see this first hand every day, and are astounded at the determination of these girls when they are given the tools they need to reach their full potential. 

Since the start of the new academic year, Lotus Pedals has gifted 82 bicycles to female students in Phnom Penh Capital and Siem Reap Province. Votey is one of the recipients. She is in 7th grade at the Hun Sen Siem Reap Lower Secondary School.

Votey is 13 years old, and is the third child of six siblings. Her parents have a cart from which they sell fruits in the Angkor Wat area, together they earn around $150 a month which is all they have to support their eight member family. When she was in primary school, Votey would share a ride to school on her sister’s bicycle. But the Secondary School is much further from her home and in a different direction than her sister's school. As her family could not afford another bicycle during the pandemic and with no other means of transportation, Votey was at risk of having to drop out. Luckily, through Lotus Pedals, Votey now has a new bicycle of her own. She said, "I will take good care of the bicycle and will study hard to finish school and become a teacher. Thank you for your kindness.”

We are so happy to be able to support girls like Votey in breaking barriers in their families and communities. A huge thank you to all who make our work possible. 

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Organization Information

Lotus Outreach

Location: Ojai, California - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @lotusoutreach
Project Leader:
Maya Norbu
Ojai, CA United States
$100,649 raised of $140,000 goal
 
1,474 donations
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