Project - Lotus Outreach

Lotus Outreach
Lotus Outreach/

At Mid-Year report a report on the project was filed.
See the Completion report at the end of the project year.

Lacking education and living in abject poverty, rural girls are easily lured by the promise of lucrative work in city centers. Intending to support their families through the restaurant or domestic jobs promised, girls are instead tricked and sold into sexual servitude or become trapped in a vicious cycle of debt bondage. In other cases, women escaping severe domestic violence find themselves and their children stranded, without food or shelter. Lacking even rudimentary skills to secure basic employment, these women are forced to sell their bodies in order to ensure the survival of their children.

The life of a sex worker in Cambodia is one of crushing shame and exploitation. For these women and their children, education offers the only hope for escape and the promise of a better life. The Lotus Outreach Non- Formal Education program provides these women and children with basic literacy, health education, life skills and vocational training in order to help them escape exploitation while discovering their own strength, self-worth and competency. Because the adult literacy rate in Cambodia is only 64%, these skills can enable former sex workers not only escape the lethal pitfalls of the commercial sex trade, but rise to positions of leadership. Less than 4% of NFE grads return to sex work upon securing other employment.

Providing these girls and women with access to basic education will have a powerful impact on future generations: children born to mothers with primary school education are only half as likely to die before the age of 5. In addition, educated women have increased earning potential. Such earning potential, along with greater confidence and self-esteem afforded by basic education, enhances their bargaining power in the household and thus their ability to meet the health, nutrition and educational needs of their children. Women who have a greater voice in household decisions are demonstrably more likely to put the medical needs, education and general well-being of their children first. Statistically speaking, children of educated women have improved survival rates, nutritional status and school attendance.

Education also empowers women to become more actively involved in their communities and governing bodies. Women involved in politics are much more likely to implement policies and legislation that positively impact their gender and their children, promote peace and equality and advocate basic human rights. Lotus Outreach not only provides classes, but holistic supportive services to make sure women and children have complete access to the educational and vocational training provided.

Rather than distributing aid, this class teaches a broad set of practical, marketable skills that prime these women for personal autonomy and entry into the workforce. Over the 12-month course, students learn not only a trade that will be profitable in their community, such as cooking or sewing, but also basic life skills that are hard to come by in the third world: literacy, mathematics, conflict resolution, nutrition, financial management, and HIV awareness and prevention, to name a few.