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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!
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 The orphans were not at all shy and withdrawn which could be the case given they are living in an orphanage without parents; rather they were radiant and filled with bright joy.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.
Socheata
Socheata's modest home.

Living in a small, dilapidated cottage, 7th grader Socheata and her family make the most of what they have. Her family which includes her mother, father, and brother live in harsh conditions due to their economic situation. Socheata’s family does not have a stable income and are forced to be creative with the materials for their home. The side of their house came from an old fence of a nearby university. With no bathroom or bedroom, life in the house can be difficult. Socheata often sleeps with her grandmother in a different hut.

Socheata’s parents make their living by green water harvesting and working as motor drivers. A large debt from a medical expense in their past sets their family back $30 dollars every month.  

Socheata has attended school minimally; and without a bicycle, she has had to walk to school every day which takes her somewhere between 15-20 minutes. Sometime her friends kindly allow her to get on the back of their bicycles. “I always feel tired and don’t want to eat and drink after walking back home” she mentioned. The heat and the threat of danger along her walk have impacted her performance in school. 

After being admitted into AusCam Freedom Project (AFP), Socheata was provided with the tools to make sure she could go to school like the other children. She received the scholarship package which included lots of study materials, uniforms, and shoes that would last her a year. She now can attend extra classes while she receives assistance and coordination from AFP and the school director. Moreover, with the AFP’s partnership with Lotus Outreach Cambodia and Douglas A. Cambell Foundation, Socheata is now able to arrive at school safer and quicker. “I am very happy now as I can go to school by bicycle, I have enough study materials, attend in extra classes without paying the money and now my grade is better than before I attend in this program” said Socheata. This scholarship has made it easier for her family to save money because in the past they have sacrificed a lot to be able to send Socheata to school.

Cambodia lags in the realm of girl's education and the roads to school are long and full of hazards. These bicycles provide a powerful component to education programs and continue to make education accessible in these economically and socially destitute regions. A few hundered bicycles result in many more deserving girls in classrooms across Cambodia. 

Socheata wants to be an accountant in the future. Mathematics, English, and the Thai language are important to help her reach this goal and she said she will study hard to get there. Lotus Outreach is proud to be a part of her life and to be able assist her in reaching her educational goals. Thank you to the donors who contributed to our Lotus Pedals program and specifically, allowed Socheata the tools and support she needs to continue in school. 

Socheata and her new bike!
Socheata and her new bike!
bikes and more bikes!
bikes and more bikes!
Lotus Pedals recipients!
Lotus Pedals recipients!

Many years ago, Lotus Outreach visited the remote villages of Kampot with the hope to serve the communities eventually. We met families living too far from schools and health services that needed assistance. While talking with one group of women in the intense heat next to a dried-up pond, some of their children arrived barefoot after walking home on the blistering hot sandy roads from school.

There and then Lotus Outreach decided that we had to come back to provide support for these children and their communities.  Over the years, we have drilled deep bore wells across three districts of the province Kampot. Many of the villagers have come from other areas of Kampot looking for cheap land, hoping to settle down with their families.  

Last year we visited a freshly drilled well at Prey Peay village in the district of Chukk. The community told us that the children were walking anywhere from 3 to 5 kilometers to their primary school. We agreed to provide bicycles to the girls that needed them through the Lotus Pedals program and gave away 12 bikes at that time.

Since then, we have provided a total of 26 bikes for the children of this small village. Parents of these children work as laborers on nearby farms and go deep into the forest to search for bamboo and medical plants to eke out for their livelihood. The adults work many hours each day which makes it hard for them to ensure their children attend school. These bikes will make it much easier for the kids to get to school and we are confident that all of the Lotus Pedals recipients will continue to pursue their educations with the help of these heavy-terrain bicycles.

 

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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

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