With your support in 2010, Lotus Outreach started a new Non-Formal Education and Life Skills course for 30 sex workers, entertainers and their children in the Kroul Kor area of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
The story of one recent addition to the program at Kroul Kor, Som Keo Morakath, indicates how difficult it is for an underprivileged woman to sustain safe and secure employment in Phnom Penh. The youngest of six children, Morakath was able to complete grade 9 before the financial burden grew too great for her widowed mother to bear. She helped an aunt sell food, but earning only $5 a month she soon turned to a karaoke bar for income.
Morakath’s finances improved drastically - her $45 monthly salary was supplemented by as much as $200 in tips. But this came at a cost: the bar was little more than a front for prostitution, and most of the girls who worked there entertained clients after hours. She saw a number of young girls sell their virginity for as much as $1,000. Although Morakath had a boyfriend who kept close watch over her, during working hours she was regularly subjected to sexual advances, groping and kissing.
Finally, she married her boyfriend and for the next few years was supported by him. Yet by the time of her mother’s death in November of 2009, their relationship had degraded and they separated. Again in need of her own income and this time with a son to feed, Morakath found a job as a beer promotion girl at Goats Head Soup 888, the location of our new NFE course.
Once again, the bulk of her earnings came on top of her salary, which was only $30 a month. Selling beer, tips, and entertaining clients after hours brought in the livable wage, along with degrading treatment and personal compromises. The arrival of NFE and a new relationship helped Morakath leave beer sales behind.
Today, Morakath takes advantage of all NFE has to offer, improving her math skills, learning to raise pigs, cooking and sewing. She shares what she learns with anyone who stands to benefit - teaching math to her niece, new recipes to her sister-in-law and helping other NFE students with their Khmer literature. An outstanding student, Morakath even attends workshops run by our local partner, Khemara, who would like to hire her should a position become available. In the meantime, Morakath is soaking up all she can at NFE so that one day she can open her own beauty salon - and the girls that work for her won’t need to earn their pay after hours.
With your generous support, 130 women and children in Cambodia’s red light areas are acquiring the skills they need to escape the brothels and karaoke bars once and for all. Thank you for helping to make this vision a reality!
EXCITING NEWS: now you can ‘give the gift of hope’ to our beneficiaries and your loved ones this holiday season!
It’s not easy to find original gifts for everyone on your holiday list – until now. GlobalGiving is introducing the Tribute Card this holiday season. When you dedicate a donation to someone, they’ll receive a Tribute Card detailing the difference that’s been made in their name. It’s fast, easy, and perfect for anyone who likes to help the less fortunate. To donate to Lotus Outreach and cover your holiday shopping, follow these steps:
Tribute Card shipping is free now through December 31, and cards purchased by December 20 will still be shipped in time for Christmas. Cards may also be printed directly from the site – perfect for gift exchanges and other last minute shopping!
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