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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!
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.

Tae, the Lotus Pedals recipient.
Tae, the Lotus Pedals recipient.

Our Lotus Pedals program follows up with beneficiaries through home visits. Below is a story about young women named Tae. Tae, despite life obstacles, remains committed to her education and a brighter future.

Tae is 17 and currently the seventh grade. She started school when she was nine years old. Tae lives with he brother and her sister-in-law. During a recent visit, Tae’s sister-in-law, Narain, stated that “Tae was very tiny as a child so her parents didn’t enroll her till she became big enough.”

In 5th grade, Tae’s mother passed away. This was very difficult for her family and consequently she missed so much school that she had to repeat the 5th grade. Not much later she was orphaned. Her father re-married and left town her younger brother, leaving Tae on her own. Fortunately, Tae was able to live with her older brother and his wife where she has remained these past 8 years.  

Tae’s brother is a construction worker in Phnom Penh. He comes home every few weeks bringing some $50 or so to support them. They have no other means of support as Narain is taking care of a new child. During the visit, Narain reflected on her own experience of education, “My parents were very poor I was forced to leave school when in grade nine. That was a great disappointment to me then and I continue to feel very disappointed with my life. I don’t want that to happen to Tae so I don’t ask her to do any work that will interrupt her studies. I will do whatever I can to keep my own children in school as long as possible.”

Two years back Tae received a bike from Lotus Pedals which after much use is completely worn out and unusable by now. Further, she is now in lower secondary school about three kilometres from home and it takes her about thirty minutes to get there.

Tae would not be able to remain in school without external assistance so she has received a scholarship that has provided her with a school uniform, study materials, and a small monthly stipend. She cannot afford extra tuition. “Other children pay for tuition and are doing better than me. I have asked my older brother to support my tuition but we cannot afford it right now. I am able to keep myself around 14th of 50 in my class at the moment. My favorite subject is Khmer literature and I want to become a primary school teacher.

Narain is a fierce advocate for Tae’s continued study so in that sense Tae is very lucky. For now we have left her with a brand new bike to make it that much easier for her to get off to school every day.

Thank you for supporting students like Tae! 

Tae with her sister in law, Narain.
Tae with her sister in law, Narain.
Tae with her brother
Tae with her brother's family.
Tae with her bike!
Tae with her bike!
Meas working at her part time job.
Meas working at her part time job.

Lotus pedals continues to serve girl students of all ages and education levels. Because many of the Lotus Pedals recipients graduate middle school and high school, their hopes and dreams carry them on to pursue their studies at the collegiate level. The need for transportation is just as important for these college students as it is for the younger students. In concurrent with the Lotus Pedals Program, many of the recipients receive scholarships through our Girls Access to Education Program(GATE/GATEways). The story below, written by a Lotus Pedals beneficiary, describes the pursuit of her education and just how important the Lotus Pedals Program is to her journey.

A story written by a Lotus Pedals beneficiary, Meas:

My name is Meas. I was born on October 26, 1994 at Kampong Kdey II village, Kompong Kdey commune, Chikreng district and Siem Reap province. I have one younger brother. He quit school in 11th grade and is now working at a garage near my home. My father’s name is Norng, he is a farmer. My mother’s name is Soy, she sells Khmer noodle in the village. When I was young, my family faced a lot of struggles because my mother had a serious illness in her back bone. My family spent lots of money to cure her illness and never had enough money to support us all. Since my family spent a lot of money on medical treatments, they did not have enough money for my studies. I missed class very often because my family needed money and I had to help my mom sell Khmer noodle in the village. I was thinking about fully dropping out of school, but my parents encouraged me to keep studying because they wanted me to have a promising future. However, it was hard for me to concentrate on my study while thinking about my ailing mom and my family’s situation.

After I graduated high school with the Girls Access to Education Program(GATE) I was lucky enough to be able to continue on to college with the support of GATEways. I was overjoyed when I found out that I could continue on to college. I moved to Phnom Penh and attended the Royal University of Agriculture. When I started college I decided to rent a house which is around 3km from university. When I first came here, it was really hard for me to go to school because I didn’t have my own transportation. I had to walk to school and sometimes and I had to spend money for a motor taxi. One of my friends who lives near my renting house offered me a ride to school because she has her own motorbike, but not often because we had different school schedules. In 2015, Lotus Pedals program provided me with a bicycle in order to help me with my commute to school. Since then, I am able to go get to university on my own which reduces my expenses and saves time. I also ride my bicycle to the market which is around 2km away from my renting home. I don’t have to borrow my friends’ bicycle or wait for my friend to pick me up anymore. The bicycle is very helpful for my studies and allows me to travel to school whenever I need to study. 

I would like to show my deepest gratitude to the donors for supporting me with the bicycle. The bicycle is so important to me because I am required to go to university very often in order to meet with professor and discuss my final thesis as well as attend regular classes. The bicycle has helped me go to school as needed and meet with my professors on time. With the help of the bike I am committed to graduate with good grades. With good grades I will be able to find a job and be able to support my family.  Thank you. 

Meas receiving her bicycle.
Meas receiving her bicycle.
Lotus Pedals bicycles galore!
Lotus Pedals bicycles galore!
Daa
Daa

Daa, an 18-year-old in 12th grade is a recipient of our GATE, Lotus Pedals and Rice support programs.

We met 18-year-old Daa at her grandmother’s house, a three-walled wood and thatch hut on low stilts with the front totally open to the elements (and whoever would like to walk in at night) on the front side.

As with many Cambodians living with poverty, Daa was left with her grandma as a baby at two years of age in order to free her parents to migrate to Thailand as laborers. Daa said, “my parents home is very far from here, in the opposite direction of my school so I hardly ever see my parents even when they are at home”.

While her family issues may have had a profound impact on Daa’s self esteem, it is clear from her responses to our questions the infact she is doing so well in her class work. She is committed, resilient, and highly disciplined. Daa is now in her 3rd year under support from the Girls Access to Education Program and she tells us, “The GATE program provides me two sets of uniforms, shoes, books, hat, raincoat and a monthly stipend of $25. I spend almost all the stipend on extra tuition classes and occasionally, a snack at school.”

“The bicycle is provided by Lotus Pedals program and without which I couldn’t possibly cover distance of 15kms to school and back every day.  I’m at school from 7am till 6pm everyday and with tuition classes in between so I have to take a packed lunch.” Daa told us she that before getting the new bike she used her grandma’s wobbly and often broken old bike to get to school. Since the beginning of the 2015-16 academic year Daa has had a brand new heavy duty Lotus Pedals bicycle of her own!

During the 9-month school year, Daa also gets 50kgs of rice from the GATE program, as they are considered poorest of the poor. The Grandma’s children send some money from their income as labor in Thailand, otherwise there is no income for this household that includes 3 small children that are Daa’s cousins, children of another daughter, left with Grandma, for a total of 4 kids in her care.

Daa very proudly tells us, “I enjoy study and get 2nd highest marks in my class of 39 students on a monthly basis. My Grandmother gives me all the time I need to study. My only household chore is to gather wood for cooking and I sometimes look after the small children here and there.” We ask what she will do after year 12 and while she is not sure, she feels teaching will be a good option for her. We are all very impressed by Daa’s strength and resolve as she tells us, “Even if I get no further support for my studies, there is no doubt in my mind I will continue to University after I finish year 12 this year!

Daa is a precious, highly capable human resource living in extreme poverty as a lotus lives in the mud. Daa’s story is one of many that convince us our investment in providing these women and children access to education is absolutely and unreservedly worthwhile!!

Daa and her grandmother.
Daa and her grandmother.
Daa and her family
Daa and her family
Daa and her bicycle
Daa and her bicycle
Daa with her grandmother and sibling.
Daa with her grandmother and sibling.
Daa in front of her home.
Daa in front of her home.
 

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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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