The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!

by Lotus Outreach
Play Video
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
The Blossom Bus: Help Rural Girls Get To School!
Principal Satender Pal in Class!
Principal Satender Pal in Class!

The Blossom Bus program has been operating in Mewat since 2008. Currently, the program supports 300 girls attending middle school and high school to continue their studies. This report serves to highlight the success and impact of the program from a unique vantage point— that of a school principal!

Lotus Outreach’s team met the principal of Girls High School Ahervan, where Blossom Bus safely and consistently transports many disadvantaged girls to and from school. In Ahervan, there are girls studying in grades 6 through 10 coming from a total of eight different rural villages. Out team came to Ahervan to talk with Mr. Satender Pal, the school’s principal, to hear his views on these girls’ education.

Mr. Satender Pal joined the high school in March 2014 and has improved the infrastructure substantially. The old and damaged rooms were repaired with support from the villagers, as the government does not give sufficient funds towards school repairs. Two new rooms are currently being constructed so that students can sit properly and fully engage in the their studies.

Mr. Satender Pal is passionate towards the education of girls and sensitive to the many negative stereotypes regarding their education. He mentioned during informal interactions that he was reluctant to join duty at this school in Mewat, fearing little cooperation and support from the local villagers. Mewat ranks among the most regressive districts in terms of girls’ education in all of India. The scarcity of schools combined with conservative local attitudes toward female mobility creates terrible obstacles to girls’ education.

After further conversations with Mr. Satender Pal, our team discovered he was very happy to discover transportation through Blossom Bus that supports these girl students coming from distant villages. Likewise, he made clear that he was very pleased the girls were traveling safely and were very happy.

He went to explain that it was very encouraging to see the generosity of people who are living thousands of miles away from these villages, but are still willing to support girl’s education. In fact, this gave him so much encouragement he said, that he worked the entire month of his summer vacation to build and further repair rooms for these girls with help from other staff and villagers.

Mr. Satender Pal thanks Lotus Outreach on behalf of girls traveling on Blossom Bus and the staff of Girls High School Aharvan and wishes our supporters a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Satender Pal, Teacher, and many Blossom Bus Riders
Satender Pal, Teacher, and many Blossom Bus Riders

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Zeba in her science lab at college
Zeba in her science lab at college

The Blossom Bus program has been operating in Mewat since 2008. Currently, the program supports 300 girls attending middle school and high school to continue their studies. This August, Blossom Bus has arrived at a new benchmark: transporting 15 high school graduates to college. Moving forward to pursue a tertiary degree of their choice is an accomplishment previously undreamed of. We are deeply honored to be part of their incredible story of triumph.

One of the 15 graduates traveling to college is Zeba. Zeba lives with her parents Akbar and Asmeena, and four siblings in Mamolaka village. Akbar and Asmeena recognize the value of education and all of Zeba’s siblings, one a younger sister, are attending school. But Zeba shares, “I never thought I would be able to go to college. No girl from our village had attended any college till date. The reason is that parents are not comfortable with the hostile environment around the villages and in college.” It is a dream come true for Zeba and her cousin Sanam, who is also a Blossom Bus rider to college.

Zeba and Sanam graduated high school riding on the Blossom Bus. They were disheartened at the prospect of having to suspend their studies, since their parents would never allow them to travel the 20 km from their village to the college town of Palwal. They asked the Blossom Bus operator if there was any possibility of extending the transport facility, and their request was relayed to us.

We at Lotus Outreach were inspired to answer the graduates’ request and to be able to continue supporting their academic aspirations. To ensure the parents were on board with their daughters pursuing a college education, we selected a women’s-only college 4 km further away, as the parents would not be supportive of a co-education institution.

Once the logistics to expand the program were sorted out, we relayed to the 15 graduates accepted into college that a Blossom Bus would be available to them. The young women were astounded and extremely relieved that their parents were supportive of them joining the women’s-only college. Students and parents were very happy that the Blossom Bus had been expanded to provide them transportation to college.

On August 25, Mr. Glenn Fawcett, our Director of Field Operations, met these young students while traveling on the Blossom Bus en route to college. He talked to them about their experience of being in college. All students expressed they were delighted to pursue a tertiary education.

Zeba and a few other students communicated with Glenn in English and were astounded at their gained ability to communicate clearly to an Australian man in his own language. Zeba said, “I never imagined that one day I would be talking to a foreigner in his own language.” Zeba’s parents and friends also recognize what a remarkable accomplishment this is.

Zeba and Sanam are trailblazers in their family and community. Sanam’s two elder sisters were already married at the age of 14 and 15, and sadly never attended a day of school. Zeba and Sanam’s fathers, who are siblings, get by through working odd jobs and farming on a small piece of land that doesn’t even provide enough grains for the family’s own consumption. Young women of their background achieving a college education will have a profound impact on this family and the entire village. Zeba and Sanam are leading the way as the first women to pursue a tertiary education in a community where tragically many are not able to complete more than five years of primary school. We salute these young women’s striking determination and commitment. And we salute you, Blossom Bus’s generous donors, for your support of this project. Blossom Bus’s accomplishments is the direct fruit of your generosity!

Blossom Bus girls boarding at Durga village
Blossom Bus girls boarding at Durga village
Blossom Bus girls arriving at college
Blossom Bus girls arriving at college
Blossom Bus girls on their way to college!
Blossom Bus girls on their way to college!

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Madhu & Manju (far right) pose with their father
Madhu & Manju (far right) pose with their father

For this Blossom Bus report, we asked our splendid India Project Manager, Mr. Suraj Kumar, to interview two of our 300 Blossom Bus girls. Suraj, very sweetly, chose Manju and Manju! Manju from Dhamaka village and Manju from Bhatt Ki village.

Dhamaka’s Manju very joyfully shared:

"I graduated middle school two years ago. With no high school in my village, I had to drop out. My parents didn't allow me to travel to another village to school.

After a year, I heard about a bus for girls to travel to school. My father was hesitant since he is poor and couldn't afford bus fares. After realizing the bus was free, he allowed me to ride it to school.

My sister Madhu and I now ride the Blossom Bus to school. My father would have married us off by now if we weren't attending school.

We both want to graduate high school, and we'll continue to college if we can."

We do hope both Manju and Madhu are able to continue their education into college, and we are committed to continuing providing them safe transportation to and from college.  

Bhatt Ki’s Manju gave us a glimpse of truly what a great accomplishment it is for a girl in rural Mewat to graduate high school:

"I am the eldest of five siblings. Two of my brothers are in high school. One of my sisters is in 6th grade, and the youngest is in 2nd grade.

When I finished elementary school, I got enrolled in a middle school 5 km away from my village. The school gave me a bicycle, but my parents were always worried about my safety. They wanted me to stop studying after middle school.

I heard about the Blossom Bus. After I was able to get a seat on the bus I started attending high school and now I'm about to graduate. I'm the first girl in my extended family to reach high school, since we belong to a lower caste.

My father is so happy. He wants me to join the police force after I graduate. He's already preparing me to become a police officer by taking me on a 3 km run every morning."

It's extraordinary how a simple intervention like Blossom Bus can foster such life opportunities to the young women reached by the program, while also bearing an enormous potential to transform the cultural mindset towards female education and the role of women in society. With the recent heartbreaking news of the sisters abused and killed in Uttar Pradesh, it's becoming increasignly evident that the situation Indian women are facing is of universal concern and it demands action. We at Lotus Outreach are deeply grateful for your support of young Indian women through the Blossom Bus sponsorship.

Now, nothing better than hearing these extraordinary young women tell their stories themselves!

To watch the interview with Manju from Dhamaka, go to: https://vimeo.com/96960633

To watch the interview with Manju from Bhatt Ki, go to: https://vimeo.com/96946382

Manju (center, blue scarf) with her mom & siblings
Manju (center, blue scarf) with her mom & siblings

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Renu (left) and Priyanka with their fathers
Renu (left) and Priyanka with their fathers

It is now March, and in Haryana, India winter is thawing, festivals are beginning, and spring is coming to blossom. In India, this is the time when students take final exams and move on to the next grade. And so it is that Lotus Outreach’s own spring blossoms are blooming—the Blossom Bus girls are graduating high school!

In the next month, the very first group of Blossom Bus riders is finishing the twelfth grade. Many of the 34 young women who are finishing this spring are the very first women in their families to complete high school!

Two such young graduates are Priyanka and Renu. Although they are excited for their achievement of graduating high school, they feel disheartened that their parents will probably soon ask them to marry after they have completed school examinations. For many girls in this area of India, marriage is common as early as age 14, but these young adults still yearn for independence and further learning.

With no interest in marriage, Priyanka and Renu asked us to approach their fathers about continuing their education at the women’s university 20 kilometers away.

Twenty years ago in Mewat, only two percent of women belonging to the minority Muslim “Meo” population even attained literacy, but now Priyanka and Renu women want to continue to forgo marriage so that they can go to college – a level of education even their fathers have not seen.

The local women’s college is 20 km away from the Durgapur village, and given the dangerous conditions for women travelling alone, as it is for the other Blossom Bus riders, it is too dangerous for young women to be riding public buses alone.

The two young women hesitate to ask their fathers if they should be allowed to take this almost unprecedented first step towards a post-secondary education. Priyanka’s older sister was married after she had completed high school at age 18, an exceptional enough achievement in a young Meo woman’s life, but Priyanka doubted that her father would allow her to remain unwed and in school. She and Renu both asked us to speak to their fathers on their behalf.

Speaking together with the two young women and their fathers, we proposed that should the girls be allowed to attend college, the Blossom Bus program would assure their safe transport to and from the college. Without any hesitation, both fathers nodded in agreement!

Our surprise at the fathers’ answer must have been obvious, because the fathers explained that they enthusiastically support the education of girls, but they had only been concerned for their daughters’ safety in transit. Their progressive mentality is part of a cultural shift that might not ever have happened in this area if not for Lotus Outreach’s Blossom Bus!

Lotus Outreach is beginning to move the Blossom Bus program forward, providing college transportation to as many of the 34 Blossom Bus graduates as possible.

You can support these girls in shattering the glass ceiling by donating to support the program! Just $10 can cover the transportation costs of one of these girls for her first month of college!

Thank you for everything you do to support Lotus Outreach and women’s education! 

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Pooja (center) is back in school thanks to you!
Pooja (center) is back in school thanks to you!

Thanks to donors like you through our partner Global Giving, Lotus Outreach’s Blossom Bus is bigger than ever! We just expanded our bus services to 50 new girls from 8 villages in the state of Rajasthan, India. The girls are located four to eight kilometers from the school in rural areas where it is dangerous for a young girl to walk alone. Combined with the 250 girls already using Blossom Bus in the neighboring state of Haryana, the total number of Blossom Bus riders is now 300!

When we reached out to school teachers in the Senior Secondary School of Kaman Block in Bharatpur, they pointed us to a number of students in need of transportation. Among the many students they directed us to was young Pooja.

They told us Pooja was an ideal, hardworking student. She had studied hard to reach eleventh grade but suddenly disappeared from class. It is all too common for girls in this area not to even make it eleventh grade, because they are married away at ages as young as fourteen. Lotus Outreach went to investigate Pooja’s mysterious dropout.

We approached Pooja’s family, and they told us the whole story. Pooja lived with her mother and younger siblings quite far from the school – nearly eight kilometers away – but had been traversing the distance on her bike before harassment by some village boys made it too unsafe.

Biking alone can be hazardous for Meo Muslim girls in this area, as groups of young men lay in wait for them and then attack and sexually assault them. Rather than risk a horrible attack, Pooja reluctantly withdrew from school.

We told Pooja and her mother about the availability of safe transportation through Blossom Bus, and they were ecstatic! Pooja’s dream had been to complete her studies and work professionally so she can support her family in the absence of her father. With the consent of her mother, reassured by the presence of 49 other Rajasthan girls on the bus, Pooja’s dream was revived and now she is back in school!

When women have so much to offer their communities, it is tragic to see their potential unrealized simply because they lack transportation to school. The cost to provide transportation assistance to a young scholar is only $150 for an entire year!

Lotus Outreach is striving to make sure as many girls as possible can get an education. Still, hundreds of girls we have identified are waiting to get on the Blossom Bus. Donate today and help a girl realize her dreams and actualize her fullest potential!

The newest group of Blossom Bus riders!
The newest group of Blossom Bus riders!
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
 

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Lotus Outreach

Location: Ojai, California - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @lotusoutreach
Project Leader:
Alexandra Land
Ojai, CA United States
$163,407 raised of $200,000 goal
 
2,913 donations
$36,593 to go
Donate Now
lock
Donating through GlobalGiving is safe, secure, and easy with many payment options to choose from. View other ways to donate

Lotus Outreach has earned this recognition on GlobalGiving:
Add Project to Favorites

Help raise money!

Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.