Happy 2024! Giving Back Project with CATALYST Scholars

Lotus Outreach Cambodia CATALYST scholars gathered for 2024’s Giving Back Project in Mondolkiri

Happy 2024! We’re delighted to share with you about our recent fifth Giving Back Project, hosted by Lotus Outreach Cambodia. In an effort to express their gratitude for the scholarship support our CATALYST university scholars receive, every year they raise funds themselves to help schools and vulnerable students in remote areas, such as Mondolkiri, Siem Reap, Pallin, and Takeo. For example, CATALYST scholars provide study materials, teach sanitation, color pictures, build water tanks, and lead students in play based learning activities and games. In giving back to others, Lotus Outreach scholarship students realize their own abundant abilities to help create goodness in others lives and the world. 

In a sense our students feel this is a way to say “thank you” to all of Lotus Outreach’s donors who support them by nurturing the habit and core value of giving back, sharing, and creating benefit in society. Every year our experience is the same, our scholars absolutely love this project! It creates an opportunity for their empowered generosity to come forward so that they can share love, compassion, and dignity with others. 

This year’s project was especially impressive as we’d only budgeted for $550 for CATALYST scholars to raise, which would have meant each of our 55 students would raise $10. However, they were so enthusiastic that they raised $1,313.75! Some of their existing and former employees as well as alumni contributed to the campaign and cause. With the extra money, our students were able to add several extra items to the package for the children they would meet, such as pens, bags, soaps, and yogurt!

On February 5, 2024, Lotus Outreach Cambodia CATALYST scholars provided study materials and other items to 81 students (55 of them are Phnorng indigenous students), including backpacks, notebooks, pencils, erasers, whiteboards, rulers, pen bags, soaps, Dutch Mill yogurt, snacks and water to students at Bu Rang Elementary School, located in Purang Village, Sen Monorom Commune, Oraing District, Mondulkiri Province. LOCAM also provided story books and scarves with Lotus Outreach Cambodia’s logo to six teachers as souvenirs.

While some CATALYST scholars worked on preparing the materials for the give away, others led school students in play and many recreational games to provide a fun and effective way for children to learn, grow, and thrive. 

Lotus Outreach CATALYST students would like to express their gratitude to the people who give to Lotus Outreach for making experiences such as these possible. Not only are our scholars encouraged to pursue their own dreams and long-held goal of breaking the cycle of poverty in their own families, but scholars are supported in their aspirations to make valuable contributions to society and help advocate for the change that is needed. 

The following is a reflection from Teach Hon, a student who participated in the Giving Back Project. Her four year university scholarship is supported by Buddhist Global Relief. 

CATALYST Scholar, Teach Hon

“I learned I am happy to be involved in society. I am proud of myself for giving back. I am thrilled to help underprivileged kids because I know that I used to be just like them. The weather was hot and I felt very bad to see that the children were isolated from many things that we take for granted. They were so happy to receive the materials we provided to them since they don’t have the opportunity to get any of those things. I felt affection towards the parents of these children who are sacrificing for their children to go to school even though they themselves did not have the chance to pursue their education. Everyone was friendly and the whole experience was really enjoyable.”

Teach Hon

As a part of the annual trip, students also rotate through leadership roles to help lead the trip as well as play team-building games. It was wonderful for LOCAM team members to see Teach Hon and others grow through the experience. During the trip, students learn to look after one another and to treat one another with love and respect while they also learn the importance of cooperation, having faith in one another, self-management and leadership. 

The experiences of the CATALYST students, as always, reflect the core aim of our work at Lotus Outreach, to create empowerment in the lives of young women, so that they can go on to create change in our world that ripples through generations.