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.