This is a not-for-profit organization committed to ensuring the health, safety and education of vulnerable children and women in Cambodia. Lotus Outreach Australia works in Cambodia together with local partners, to stop young girls from ending up in child trafficking and labour by offering them with healthcare and Girls Access to Education (GATE) scholarships.
Lotus supports families that are in dire poverty so that they don't end up putting their girls into child labour in efforts at feeding the family. They initiate projects to assist families to become self-supporting.
With their local partners they raise awareness about the brutality of trafficking, and promote the advancement of human rights, effectiveness and value of girls and women plus their education.
The GATE program
LOA is currently offering scholarships to one hundred and fifty Cambodian girls, which come along with school uniforms, a pair of shoes and assorted school supplies. The lack of these critical items makes most of the children not being allowed to attend school.
Besides getting health checks, the girls in need coming from very poor families also get 30 kilograms of rice from the Rice Support Program each month. This means that parents will now be in a position of letting their girls remain at school rather than having them working in efforts to add to the family income.
Lotus Outreach Australia is working jointly with CWCC who in turn are collaborating with the various Local Education Working Groups towards identifying young girls who are at most girls in the various target communities and working to aid in in keeping them at school. Regularly monitoring and having meetings with the girl students plus their families will mean that they are without fail able to attend school and attain their school grades.
Working with Community
This approach is hinged upon helping in the operation of sessions on Community Education that touch on a diversity of issues dealing with Human Rights issues; family value, importance of educating the girl child: and the implications of human trafficking, domestic violence and on the rights of the child.
Outcomes that are positive and real
Today, girls coming from uneducated families are getting to be the very first ones to get educated and graduate from high school in such families. Being empowered to own a bike and has witnessed a big reduction in incidences of assaults on the girl child. The travel time to and from school is now been greatly cut down so the girls are now able to have more time devoted to studying.
Lack of transport stops lots of girls being able to get to school. Some of the girls walk almost 8kms to school in the early morning, or even after it gets dark, with a very real risk of getting assaulted or worse being kidnapped. Supplying girls with a riding bike plus repair kit cuts down on travel time giving the more time to do their studying. Lotus Pedals project is paid 100 per cent from Donor Funding.
English Language Program (ELP)
Being disadvantage means the girls who are probably coming from families that live in a tiny 1-room hut, having no books, zero help with their school homework with no electricity leave alone having a computer or even the internet. These girls lack anything similar to the advantages enjoyed by girls from affluent or even middle class families. Nevertheless they still are going to be competing with such advantaged students to get a tertiary training or university place.
Lotus Outreach Australia has recognized the necessity of providing the 150 girls in the GATE initiative with the best achievable opportunity of further training and education after school in order to secure quality jobs, economic opportunity and meaningful lives. Because universities largely expect a certain proficiency English Language level just as they do lots of other post high school training and vocation opportunities, LOA in 2011 introduced free daily classes for English language for the girls based at their own local schools. Lotus Outreach Australia is extremely appreciative that first funding for the English Language Program has been received come from AusAID via AFAP.
Several of the girls in LOA GATE program have since graduated from high school. Two girls did graduate in 2010 with three 3 entering university in 2011, and many more joining vocational training or entering the workplace.
Lotus Outreach Australia is in search of ways of finding additional funding to cover GATEways in the coming immediate future. As soon as these girls are placed in high-quality well paying jobs, they might be in positions of not just helping their own families, but possibly help the other smaller girls in their communities who are in need of help to remain at school.
The Wells Project
According to UNICEF, just 35 per cent of the rural population in has access to safer and improved sources of drinking water. Frequently poor Cambodians have to pay money for water or have to spend precious working hours in fetching the water. This expenditure has had a severe impact on the communities, where 80 per cent of families are not in a position of affording to pay for in excess of 2 days of rice at any given time.
Water wells we have in the past significantly reduced the burden on the rural Cambodian poor, and meaning that now villagers are able to grow their own vegetables during drought-prone and dry season which could last from 8 to 10 months every year. Accessibility of fresh vegetables has certainly helped in reducing malnourishment. Additionally, the wells aid villagers through extreme and frequent flooding and drought due to deforestation and climate change.
Lack of safe drinking water poses a major challenge to many Cambodians. Lotus Outreach Australia has over the years been operating in the Province of Pursat together with the COCD, where fresh and clean water sources are rare, especially during the dry season. LOA has constructed 6 wells, facilitating accessibility to safe and clean water for in excess of 1,600 people in 7 communities.
Any small sum of money donated does a lot in Cambodia, where over a 3rd of the total population is living on below one dollar daily. Lotus Outreach Australia is a Community Partner of the Australian Foundation for the AFAP) enabling to offer tax deductibility to its donors.