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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!
Riding to school in Phnom Kravanh!
Riding to school in Phnom Kravanh!

Phnom Kravanh (meaning “Cardamom Mountain” in Khmer) is one of six districts in Cambodia’s Pursat province. This rural, mountainous region is sparsely populated and some parts remain heavily mined, as the district is a former fighting zone between the Cambodian government and Khmer Rouge insurgents. The Cardamom mountain range is considered one of the main biodiversity hotspots on the planet, with 16 distinct ecosystems and 14 globally endangered and threatened species. It is one of the last seven remaining elephant corridors in Southeast Asia and is the hunting range for the Pileated Gibbon, Asiatic Black Bear, Malaysian Sun Bear, Marbled Cat, Southern Serow, and half of Cambodia's bird species. Due to a lack of alternative livelihoods, indigenous people often resort to illegal logging, wildlife poaching, foraging, and slash-and-burn agriculture to ensure their survival. While many conservation efforts in this area are underway, few organizations are working with local populations to provide them with alternative economic opportunities.

Expanding education, economic opportunities and settled agriculture are recognized as the most effective strategies for combating both the human and environmental effects of poverty in this extraordinary region of the world. In partnership with the Cambodian Organization for Children and Development (COCD), Lotus Outreach has launched an integrated social development program which aims to improve the livelihoods of local people through the provision of microloans, farming toolkits and of course, educational scholarships!

As a part of the scholarship program in Phnom Kravanh, Lotus Outreach (empowered by YOU!) recently provided 19 impoverished minority girls with bicycles so they can get to school. Research shows that each extra year of schooling boosts a girl’s eventual wages by as much as 25%. Improving a girl’s life options will not only help her and her future children, but will decrease her dependence on activities that are harmful to the local environment.

Breaking News!!

Because Lotus Pedals has been such a tremendous success, we have decided to expand! Our local partners have indicated that the demand for bicycles greatly exceeds the supply, and there are countless children all over the country who are just a bicycle away from dropping out of school—or re-enrolling. You can help us help them by telling your friends and family about the Lotus Pedals project and encouraging their support: http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/lotuspedals/.

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Rina and her siblings at their house
Rina and her siblings at their house

Poverty places a great demand on a child’s time. Between keeping the house while parents work and working themselves, children in rural Cambodia struggle to attend school. Unfortunately, a scarcity of schools means that a commute of several kilometers to neighboring villages is commonplace, compounding the challenges to obtaining an education.

While scholarships provided by Lotus Outreach’s Girls’ Access To Education (GATE) program can nudge talented and ambitious girls into education, without a means of transportation many young women and girls forfeit their chance to attend school. Modeled on a UNICEF initiative in Ghana, Lotus Outreach (LO) began providing bicycles to promising girls in three districts of Cambodia who live more than 1.5 km from school. Today, more than 160 girls attend school thanks to this support.

Eighteen year-old Long Rina is an example of the type of ambitious young female Lotus Outreach seeks to support. Before qualifying for a GATE scholarship, Rina shared an old bicycle with a younger sister to reach the nearest secondary school - two kilometers away. The tedious daily journey (two girls on one bicycle!) was a testament to the drive of both girls to pursue their studies as far as possible. For Rina, in ninth grade, this was already far beyond the typical female in her community – but not nearly as high as she intended to reach. After losing her father because her family was unable to pay for a doctor, Rina was determined to become a doctor herself and devote her practice to the poor.

After receiving her scholarship, which included a new bike, Rina quickly established herself as a bright and remarkable young woman. Her vibrant spirit took in Program Director Raksmey Var, who hopes to help Rina achieve her dream of working as a healer for the destitute. She is so inspired by Rina’s passion and aptitude that she has offered her a place to stay with her family in Phnom Penh should she be accepted into a medical program at the university.

One of the lone pieces of furniture in Rina’s humble, one-room home is a small bookshelf lined with tattered textbooks, bearing witness to her mother’s dream of a proper education for her daughters. Now with GATE support and a safe, reliable means to reach the classroom, Rina and her four sisters can take great pride in bringing their mother’s greatest wish to fruition.

Rina shedding tears of gratitude
Rina shedding tears of gratitude
Rina on her Lotus Pedals bicycle
Rina on her Lotus Pedals bicycle
Rina's bike
Rina's bike
Rina with her mom (saying thanks) and GATE staff
Rina with her mom (saying thanks) and GATE staff
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Girls receiving their new bikes
Girls receiving their new bikes

Dear friends of Lotus Outreach,

With your generous support, Lotus Pedals provided 193 girls in rural Banteay Meanchey, Cambodia with heavy terrain bicycles in 2009. Not only were we able to extend the budget to support bicycles for an additional 30 young girls, but we still have enough of your funds remaining to provide an additional 50 bikes in 2010! That’s a total of 243 girls who will now be able to commute to school each day!

For a Cambodian girl living in a rural, sparsely populated area, a bicycle truly means the difference between whether or not she can attend school. All of the girls receiving bicycles through Lotus Pedals live at least 1 mile from the closest school house—with some traversing up to 9 miles of rugged terrain every day. Commuting these distances on foot not only increases the opportunity cost of attending school (i.e., the number of hours they are unable to help support their poor families), but greatly increases their risk of abuse in a region where sexual violence is rampant—and on the rise.

Lotus Outreach believes that equal access to education is a fundamental right, but we also believe that expanding girls’ education is one of the most effective methods for breaking the cycle of poverty in the developing world. On a global scale, even the most basic levels of education for girls has the power to ripple throughout future generations—transforming families, communities and even nations. Statistically speaking, children of educated women have improved survival rates, nutritional status and school attendance. Here are just a few examples of why education for girls matters so much:

• When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.

• An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25 percent.

• Research in developing countries has shown a consistent relationship between better infant and child health and higher levels of schooling among mothers.

• When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for men.

(source: http://www.girleffect.org/downloads/TheGirlEffect_FactSheet.pdf) With your help, 243 Cambodian girls can now pedal into the future. We thank you supporting this amazing project and look forward to sharing more good news over the coming months!

Warmest regards,

Erika Keaveney Executive Director Lotus Outreach International

PS – Lotus Pedals was recently featured in Kiki Magazine – be sure to take a look!

Thanking you for your support!
Thanking you for your support!

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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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