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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!
Pisey our Project Officer with recipients
Pisey our Project Officer with recipients

Lotus Pedals (LP) aims to increase access to education for economically vulnerable girls especially where distances between their places of residence and the nearest primary or secondary school causes a severe hindrance to their school attendance. The program seeks to improve attendance, academic performance and increase transition rates from primary to lower secondary school for girl children by providing them with a bicycle and repair kit. The bicycle sets are awarded based on selection criteria developed by Lotus Outreach Cambodia (LOCAM) in collaboration with various partners to ensure the neediest girls are prioritized.

On June 5, 2018 Lotus Pedals was able to give away 100 bicycles to underprivileged female students who are from 8 communes (No Rea, Krang Snay, Beung Nimol, Tromaeng, Chres, Baniev, Krang Sbov, and Tor Tung) of 3 districts (Chhouk, Chum Kiri, and Dang Tong) in Kampot Province. The event took place at Chhouk District Education Office with presence of 100 recipients and their parent/guardian, their school teachers, and the Executive Director of Lotus Outreach International.

Each recipient received a bicycle, a pump, a lock, a set of repair kit consisting of a set of double open-ended spanners (5 pieces), a hex key, a screwdriver and a set of puncture repair kit.

While recipients were leaving the event, I noticed one of the recipients standing outside the gate in the sun holding on to her bike, so I approached her and asked what she was doing there all by herself. She said she was waiting for her grandmother. And then she started to show me her feet and explained, ‘look at my feet! I’ve been walking to school since I was in 1stgrade.’ The girl’s name is Oun, 16 years old and in grade 6. She lives with her grandmother about 3kms from school.

When being asked if she has siblings and about her parents, Oun sadly replied, ‘I have two siblings but they are living with my mom in Kompong Som Province. I live with my grandmother in Kampot Province because I couldn’t stand the torture my step father did to me.’ Oun showed her fingers and continued, ‘he broke my fingers.’

Living with her grandmother is not easy because she is old and doesn’t have anything to do to support their livelihood beside rice farming, so Oun needs to help her grandmother growing rice when she is off from school. Despites how hard life is, she is doing pretty well at school. She ranks 5th in the class.

Thank YOU for making these Lotus Pedals bike scholarships possible!

Oun with her bicycle
Oun with her bicycle
More new bike owners
More new bike owners
A Lotus Pedals beneficiary and her family
A Lotus Pedals beneficiary and her family
Thrilled to have a bike!
Thrilled to have a bike!

In comparison to the broader developing world, Cambodia is falling behind in the realm of girls' education. Only 11% of Cambodian girls attend secondary school compared to 43% in the developing world more broadly. One of the key barriers to girls' education in Cambodia is lack of transportation. As a part of a comprehensive scholarship initiative, Lotus Outreach is raising funds to purchase bicycles and repair kits to ensure hundreds of girls can get to school each day.

By providing bicycles and repair kits to girls who live over 1.5 kilometers from the nearest public schoolhouse and monitor the attendance and academic performance of girls by providing early intervention to ensure they do not drop out of school. These bicycle scholarships are transforming the lives of these young women, and our advocacy efforts in households and communities is shifting limiting social narratives. The girls are beacons of hope for other young women in their communities.

Lotus Outreach Cambodia implemented a Lotus Pedals Program bike giveaway in Pursat Province on May 17th at the Education Office of Kravanh District. 50 bikes were given to girl students from Samrong and Pteah Rong Communes. 

The bikes were presented to the most in need students from families living in poverty so that their children can reach school regularly and on time. Departments of Education and community welfare officers assisted the program in identifying the most in need children living in poverty.

Thank you for providing access to education to these driven young girls! 

Bright and shining orphan girls on their bikes.
Bright and shining orphan girls on their bikes.

We assembled at Prey Chhlak Pagoda which is the home of the Buddhist social development organization, Santi Sena, one of Lotus Outreach Cambodia long term partners, to deliver 50 bicycles to children of the poorest of poor families that were identified by the department of social affairs and organized with assistance local school authorities in the target villages.

On this occasion there were also several orphans present who gave us the biggest waves and smiles of appreciation of any of the children receiving bikes on that day and which gave pause for a melting heart in my case. The orphans were not at all shy and withdrawn which could be the case given they are living in an orphanage without parents; rather they were radiant and filled with bright joy.

According to reports, poverty in Cambodia has been reduced considerably in the past 10 years, unfortunately 90% of Cambodia’s poor remain in the rural areas and even small children have to travel great distances to primary school.

Getting to lower secondary schools is much tougher and only 36% of all girls enrolling at all and with a 20% drop out rate from classes 6-8. [1]

Although economic reasons are the top three reasons for school dropout, 75% said they needed to supplement income through household chores or domestic work. 33% of dropouts and parents/guardians cited school-related expenses as the main reason to drop out while 10% felt that distance was the main issue.

While the double-edged sword of needing to earn income to support family and the expense of schooling in Cambodia, Lotus Pedals has made it possible for more than 2500 children of these poor families to own a bicycle and which verifiably makes a huge difference to their attendance and ability to remain in school.

[1] https://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/cambodia_statistics.html

Children of poor families often share their bikes!
Children of poor families often share their bikes!
Girl scholars at Prey Chhlak Pagoda.
Girl scholars at Prey Chhlak Pagoda.
Radha arriving home on her new bike.
Radha arriving home on her new bike.

As 2017 comes to a close Lotus Pedals has distributed another 150 bikes in two tranches providing access to education for the most in need Cambodian girls in two remote Provinces of Cambodia, Svey Rieng and T'bung K’mom.

The ceremony at Tbung K'mom where we provided 100 bikes, was attended by many VIPs including her excellency Leng Sokha, Deputy Provincial Governor, Mr. Ken Bunna, Tbung K’mom District Governor, Mr. En Pov Sambath, Head of the District Department of Education, Youth and Sport, school principals, teachers. The bikes were given to poorest of poor families identified from 17 different schools across the small and economically underdeveloped Cambodian Province.

The participation of Principals, teachers and important dignatories from various Ministries and departments ensures the gender balancing impact of providing bikes to girls from most in need families will be maximised across governance and in the broader society.

These tranches bring the total of Lotus Pedals to 251 for 2017 and a grand total of 2316 bikes provided by the Program so far!!

Following are responses from two of the girls we met at their homes just after the bike giveaway ceremony.

13 years old Radha (pictured) from an extremely poor family at T'bung K’mom told us through her tears, “I am very happy and so thankful for my new bike! Normally I have to depend on friends for a lift on the back of their bikes and it’s around 8kms to my school. It’s my dream be educated and teach Khmer literature so I can stay with and help my mother.

12 years old Cheah (pictured) told us that she loves her new bike, which is the first bike she has ever owned. She lives 8 kms from her primary school and normally borrows and old bike and rides 30 minutes to get there. She likes studying even more than seeing her friends at school and her dream is to become to be an English teacher.  

Thank you to all that continue to support students like Radha and Cheah. 

Radha was so thankful!
Radha was so thankful!
Van Neah with her mum in front of their home.
Van Neah with her mum in front of their home.
Van Neah wants to become an English Teacher.
Van Neah wants to become an English Teacher.
Theara on her Lotus Pedals bike
Theara on her Lotus Pedals bike

At this moment we have over 330 Lotus Pedals students benefiting from your generousity. This number will be growing as we expand to India! This story below illustrates the importance of your support and how you are empowering girls and women in the developing world.

Theara, a 16-year-old, is living in Trapeng Smach Village in the Svay Rieng province of Cambodia. Her family has 4 members—her mother, an older brother and an older sister. Without a father, her mother is the head of house. With a meager wage at the garment factory, her family is fallen into debt. Because of this such difficult situation, Theara’s mother sent her to live with her uncle in a wooden house with tin roof and no proper walls. In her free time, she helps her uncle cook, do housework and look after buffalos.

Currently she is studying in the 9th grade at Trapeang Banteay high in the Romeas Hek district. Her school is around 6 kms from her uncle’s house. Before receiving a bike from the Lotus Pedals Program she usually rode tandem on a friends bike. Sometimes she had to miss school when her friend didn’t come to pick her up. Because of her circumstance, she hasn’t  been able to attend school regularly. Unfortunately, her school performance dropped. Given that she couldn’t keep up with the class, she wanted to drop out. 

In collaboration with the Scholarship Committee of Lotus Outreach’s partner Santi Sena Organization, Theara was identified as a qualified recipient for Lotus Pedals. She loves studying and told us during the interview that “I want to study at higher grade, but it is hard for me to continue to stay in school because my mother doesn’t have enough money to support my education, nor can she afford to buy me a bicycle.”

After receiving a bicycle from Lotus Pedals in March 2017, she has been able to attend school regularly and her school performance has improved as well. She now feels more confident and shows high commitment in staying in school. “I dream to be a doctor in the future in order to help other people,” said Theara.

Theara is very much grateful for the bicycle and would like to deeply thank the program as well as the donors for providing her with a precious means of conveyance through Santi Sena Organization to access to and acquire more education.

Another photo of Theara and her new bike!
Another photo of Theara and her new bike!
Theara in her classroom with classmates.
Theara in her classroom with classmates.
 

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Organization Information

Lotus Outreach

Location: Ojai, California - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @lotusoutreach
Project Leader:
Alexandra Land
Ojai, CA United States
* This project is competing for bonus prizes
through the Year End Campaign 2019. Terms and conditions apply.

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