Lotus Pedals - Help Cambodian Girls Get to School!

by Lotus Outreach
Pheap and her mom with Pheap
Pheap and her mom with Pheap's bike!

Dear Lotus Pedads sponsors,

As you may know, Lotus Pedals gives the gift of education to girls in deep poverty, where public transportation is often nonexistent. It also gives these girl students a feeling of mobility and confidence as they pedal with speed down rural roads with friends to and from school. The following is a success story about Pheap, a student that has benifted greately from the Lotus Pedals program.

Pheap, is in 12th grade at Nimith high school. Pheap lives in Reaksmey Meanchey village in Banteay Meanchey. Her father Vann Sokear, 42, is a laborer and her mother Sin Sophea, 39, is housewife. Pheap has 3 female siblings and she is the oldest. All of her siblings are in school.

Pheap’s family is very poor and does not own any paddy fields to cultivate rice or vegetables. Their property is just large enough for their home. Her father works locally, along the Cambodia-Thailand boarder to support Pheap'sfamily. Often her family can’t afford rice to cook. Pheap has always helped her family with household chores and has frequently quit school so that she could work as laborer to support her family.

A teacher advised Pheap to enroll back in school, so she applied to the GATE scholarship program. Pheap was selected as one of the scholarship recipients. Since 2012 when Pheap was in 9th grade, she has been receiving support from Lotus Outreach through CWCC (Cambodian Women Crisis Center). Her family has been receiving special rice support of 50kgs per month since 2012. Both the educational scholarship and the rice support have been vital to her family over the past four years.

Before getting the scholarship, Pheap found ways to catch rides with friends on their bikes. Because of that, her attendance was very irregular and she often had to miss school. To ease her commute and ensure she didn’t have to miss school due to lack of transportation, the program provided her with a Lotus Pedals bicycle. She felt very happy to receive the bike and it really helped with her attendance. When she reached 10th grade, school was 20kms away from home, so Pheap was placed in the residential home near school. She rides her bike home every weekend to see her family and helps them with chores. She has been studying very hard and is one of the top ten students in her class of forty-five.

In late 2015, during a scholarship giveaway event, Pheap was given a new bike along with a pump to replace her old bike that was given since 2012. Her old bike has now been passed down to her younger sister. Pheap is very happy because now her sister can also bike to school.

Pheap is very grateful for all the supports, financially and spiritually. She is committed to her studies and hopes to peruse her education as long as she can. She wishes to become a secondary school teacher specializing in Khmer literature so she can help educate younger generation to be educated like her. 

Ratana and her friend with their bikes
Ratana and her friend with their bikes

The following project explores Ratanas’s long-term pursuit of her education. Ratana’s story starts within our CWCC program and traces her steps up to her Lotus Pedals bike!

Ratana, 24 years old, is originally from Muk Wat Village, Kompong Klang Commune, Sout Nikum District, Siem Reap Province. Her parents are farmers. She has 5 siblings—2 girls and 3 boys—and she is the oldest child. Unfortunately, when Ratana was young, there was domestic violence within her home. Ratana’s mother decided to seek intervention from the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center (CWCC) and spent several months staying in CWCC’s safe shelter.

Through her relationship with CWCC, when Ratana was in sixth grade, she was chosen to be a recipient of the Girls’ Access To Education (GATE) project implemented by CWCC with funding support from Lotus Outreach. When the program first found her, she was so discouraged and about to drop out due to both poverty and domestic violence. “When I was in primary school, my father always drank alcohol and came home beating my mother. I got so depressed and ashamed that I didn’t want to go to school any more”, Ratana said.

Having been in the GATE program, Ratana gained her aspiration and strive back for a better future. Ratana studied hard and eventually graduated from high school in 2011, which wouldn’t have happened without the support of the program. While she was so excited and eager to pursue her dreams, her heart fell and sank once again given that her family could not support her to pursue her study at university. She was thinking about giving up her dreams and looking for labor job to support her family. Luckily, Lotus Outreach decided to continue supporting GATE graduates to do tertiary education (under another project called GATEways) and Ratana qualified for it! “I thought that I had no fortune to attend university like other students since my family couldn’t afford it. Without the supporting from the program, I would surely be working in the farms right now”, she said.

Nowadays, Ratana is a third year student of midwifery at Regional Training Center of Battambang. With the supporting from GATEways program, Ratana has been receiving 15kg rice support every month, monthlystipend, accommodation, utility, English and French tuition, and computer course.

Living far from home is not easy for Ratana and without any transportation of her own, Ratana often walks many miles to school. Sometimes, she was late for her classes and couldn’t concentrate on her studies other times she had to walk through dangerous parts of town. Moreover, she was participating in an internship at one of the local hospital in Battambang province in mid August and was worried about how she would commute there. Ratana wished that she could have a bicycle that would take her to school and her internship. In responding to this simple wish of hers, Lotus Pedals, implemented by Lotus Outreach Cambodia, gave a bicycle to Ratana on August 8, 2015 in Battambang Province with facilitation from GATEways project officer. Ratana was extremely delighted and grateful to the program for always responding to her needs. “I am very thankful to donor for always supporting me, both with my study and my living. I am very happy and truly appreciate this kind and caring gesture toward me. This bike will help me a lot with my transportation to school and to work. I would like to wish all the people who have been making this possible for me to come this far with all the best of luck, health, wealth, success and prosperity.”, Ratana expressed her feeling.

Ratana and her Lotus Pedals
Ratana and her Lotus Pedals

The Lotus Pedals program provides transportation to girl students who live in rural communities, often without public transportation near by. By providing these girl students with bicycles, it gives them the mobility to go to school, and gives them the independence of getting themselves there on their own. The $62 bike opens many doors for these girl students who would not have had the chance to go to school otherwise. Only 11% of Cambodian girls attend secondary school. Lotus Pedals is working to improve that disheartening statistic.

 

Cheng, a Cambodian 16 year-old girl, has benefited from the Lotus Pedals program immensely. She is in secondary school in the Phnom Kravanh district. Before Cheng received the Lotus Pedals bike, she commuted 3 kilometers a day to school and back. After completing her studies in grade school, she then transferred to a high school. Unfortunately her new high school was 7 kilometers away from her home which made the journey much more difficult.

 

Cheng’s family owned two old bikes that had to be shared with her two other sisters. Both Cheng and her sister study together at the same high school but are in different grades and have different schedules. They were forced to coordinate with each other, which often made both Cheng and her sister late and absent from their classes. On top of it all, the bike that they were sharing began to have many problems. With the difficulties of bike repairs and coordinating with her sister, Cheng began to fall behind in her education and felt she needed to drop out of her classes.

 

Once Cheng received her Lotus Pedals bike, she was delighted to have access to school again. Her attendance and timeliness at school since receiving the bike has been perfect, without missing a single day of class. She has shown improvement in her education, and doesn’t have to worry about sharing a bike with her sister, or having endless bike repairs.

 

Cheng says that she has goals to pursue her education and attend university with her friends. She then hopes to have a successful career. Overall, she wants both her and her sister to keep on perusing their education to eventually provide for their family and create a better life for them all.

 

The Cambodian Organization for Children and Development (COCD) enabled Chang to continue her education by gifting her this bicycle. Cheng would like to thank all of those involved and wish them success in all tasks.

Nita at School
Nita at School

Nita is 14 years old and studies in the 6th grade at Kdey Chas Primary School in Kdey Chas Village in the Chroy Chongva District of Phnom Penh City.

Nita is from a very difficult background. Since her birth she has never seen her parents. Nita’s mother gave her to her elder sister Davy and her brother-in-law Soeun to take care of her where she has grown up in extreme poverty. When Soeun died, Davy gave Nita to her son Eang Vadna, 32 years old and a motor taxi driver, and her daughter-in-law, 31 years old and a garment factory worker, who already had 2 children.

Living in a family of 5 members whose income came from running a motor taxi and factory work, their livelihood was very difficult, especially when it came to Nita’s education. She lacked study materials and the means of transportation to get to school, which resulted in frequent tardiness and low performance.

Thankfully, Nita was identified by Lotus Outreach’s local partner and granted a set of a Lotus Pedals; a new bicycle for safe transportation to and from school. In return, Nita exclaimed:

“After getting a bicycle from Lotus Pedals, I am extremely delighted, because I now have a bicycle to pedal to school like others. I no longer walk, and I arrive at school on time and regularly. I also have time to help with household chores. On top of that, I have become a member of Village Child Club gaining new knowledge and taking part in group activities to educate the villagers on special occasions such as International Children’s Day, the Anti-Human Trafficking Campaign, and the Children Forum, along with others.”

When asked about her future plan, Nita replied:

“My dream is to finish high school and look for a job while continuing to university, so that I can support myself and help to support this family to repay them for raising me like their own child without complaining regardless of all the difficulties they face.”

She added, “I would like to request to all parents to please not abandon their children no matter how poor they are. I am very disappointed that my parents abandoned me while other parents who are also poor struggle to raise all their children. I am lucky in a sense, anyway, that this family has mercy on me; otherwise, I don’t know what my life would be. I will study hard to turn this sad situation into a bright future.

I would like to pay gratitude to the program for the support. I wish everyone success and prosperity so you can continue to help other children!

Nita with her new bike
Nita with her new bike

Links:

Dory receiving her bike with fellow students!
Dory receiving her bike with fellow students!

Lotus Pedals gives the gift of education to girls in deep poverty, where public transportation is often nonexistent. It gives these girl students a feeling of mobility and confidence as they pedal with speed down rural roads with friends to and from school. For just $62 a girl receives a new bicycle and a repair kit to ensure her education, and also a sense of independence seldom offered in such rural conditions. Support this movement!

Take Dory Seyva for example. Dory, 12 years old, lives in the Cambodian village Chub Pring within the Thmey commune located in the Kampong Rou district. She currently studies in grade 7 at Thmey secondary school and has 3 siblings. She is the oldest in her family along with two younger sisters. They all live in a small hourse without a latrine or nearby well. Her father, In Sam Ol, and her mother, Koem Savourn, work as laborers in a nearby farm to just barely make ends meet. As a result of such poverty, Dory often suffers from malnutrition and lacks the basic study materials needed to complete her studies.

Before Dory got a bicycle from Lotus Outreach through Lotus Pedals, she always relied on asking a friend for a lift to school. Quite often her friend was absent and thus, she had to frequently skip school. Her home is 6 kilometers away from school and her family could not afford to buy her a bicycle.

Lotus Outreach was able to sponsor Dory and purchase her a bicycle and repair kit. Dory said that she is extremely happy to have a bicycle like some of her other friends. She no longer has to worry about asking her friend for a lift to school. She can now attend school regularly and does not need to rely on anyone, but herself. Up till now, her bike is still completely new because she always looks after it and cleans it after each use whether it is a trip to school or a ride with friends.

In the future, Dory dreams to be a great teacher at the state school near her home village and she is committed to studying hard to reach this goal. Last but not least, she would like to thank Lotus Outreach very much for providing a great bike to her to allow her to study harder and pursue her dream. She promises that she will continue her studies and looks forward to graduating from high school!

Dory second from the left riding her new bike!
Dory second from the left riding her new bike!

Links:

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Organization Information

Lotus Outreach

Location: Aptos, California - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.lotusoutreach.org
Project Leader:
Elise De Grande
Executive Director
Sacramento, CA United States