Compared with other developing nations, Cambodia and India lag in the realm of girls’ education. While 43 percent of girls in the developing world attend secondary school, in Cambodia only 11 percent of girls attend. In the communities where Lotus Outreach operates, the road to school is long and full of hazards. In rural India, estimates show that for every 100 girls, one girl reaches the 12th grade. By supplying all-terrain bicycles to the poorest girls living a minimum of one mile from their nearest public school, Lotus Pedals has become a powerful component to our education programs in both India and Cambodia.
The young women in our programs are often targets for abuse and sex trafficking. All too often, they are forced to choose between eating and paying for a taxi to attend classes. For many, their time is better spent working than traveling several kilometers to school on foot.
Given a bicycle, these tough decisions disappear. Lotus Pedals has changed the lives of hundreds of girls by supplying safe, reliable transportation. When girls stay in school, their achievements far exceed those of formal lessons: they gain confidence, access to academic communities, and the respect of their families and neighbors.
Girls who ride Lotus Pedals bikes to school tend to view the new avenues available to them as leading back to their home communities. They are charting a course to become doctors, teachers, and non-proﬁt leaders in their own villages.
Bike ceremonies were held in Siem Reap, the Takeo province, and Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The bikes they received were custom-designed to include license plates that read, “There is no force more powerful than a girl determined to rise”.