As a result of your generous support, 107 impoverished young girls in the Russey Keo district of Phnom Penh, Cambodia received refurbished bicycles and repair kits this month, allowing them to celebrate Back to School season in style.
In rural Cambodia, the road to school is long and full of hazards. In addition to the time and opportunity costs of traversing lengthy distances to school by foot, rural Cambodian girls face a high incidence of sexual violence in their communities, and walking alone increases their risk. By supplying heavy-terrain bicycles to the poorest girls living over one mile from the nearest schoolhouse, Lotus Pedals is helping hundreds of adolescent Cambodian girls safely return to school.
The giveaway ceremony, held at Bun Rany Hun Sen Koh Dach High School on October 8, was attended by nearly 1,000 people, including the district officer, commune council, village chief, school director, teachers, local authorities and 700 school children and parents. Speaking to the crowd, the Deputy Governor stressed that a bicycle means a lot to poor family that would otherwise have to save for a very long time in order to afford a bike for their daughter. Student council representatives also declared that with a bike, the girls can now come to school both regularly and on time. Recipients thanked the donors and promised to study hard and take good care of their new bikes.
Susan B. Anthony once said "I think [the bicycle] has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. The moment she takes her seat she knows she can't get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood."
These words – spoken by a 19th century American feminist – could not be truer in present-day rural Cambodia, where – for a young woman – a bicycle can mean the difference between reaching her full potential and a life of oppression. We offer our deepest gratitude to each and every one of you for entrusting us to help these young Cambodian girls get back to school, and for investing in the healing of a nation.
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