Provides trauma therapy, social assistance, and small business grants to survivors of human trafficking, sexual abuse and domestic violence residing in a women’s shelter in rural Cambodia.


In Cambodia, an old adage enjoys popular currency.  "Women are like cloth and men are like gold," it claims, meaning that once cloth is soiled, it ought to be thrown away for it cannot be cleaned. Tragically, this chauvinistic attitude still reigns, hovering oppressively over the hopes and dreams of an entire nation’s female population.  Domestic violence is perhaps the most common consequence of this toxic ideology, afflicting approximately one in four women—the vast majority of whom have nowhere to turn.

Women are perceived as commodities, and not all commodities are equal: sex with young women and girls is believed to boost virility and health, placing the most vulnerable first in line for mistreatment at the hands of traffickers, neighbors, teachers, brothers and fathers. A young survivor of rape will often find her trauma compounded by the actions of her family.  Virginity is highly prized in a bride, and parents will sometimes resolve the problem of an unchaste, unmarried daughter by demanding that the rapist marry the girl himself. 

The LO-supported counseling and reintegration project provides a safe haven for survivors of violence. Guaranteed physical protection and emotional support provide patients the sanctuary needed for recovery.  At our shelter in Sisophon, near the Thai border, they are welcome to stay for up to one year, during which time they have access to individual and group counseling, literacy courses, vocational training, life skills classes, legal services and reintegration assistance.  Women are encouraged to retake control of their lives - to shed their sense shame and see themselves as survivors, rather than victims.

Partner: Cambodian Women's Crisis Center

Supported by: Dining for Women • GlobalGiving Foundation 



Provides literacy classes, vocational training, and life skills to sex workers and their children in order to help them break the cycle of vulnerability.


As gender equality takes a more prominent role among economists and the international development community, Lotus Outreach is already ahead of the curve with programs like Non-Formal Education and Life Skills that seek to bring women into the workforce. Aimed at sex workers, their children, and those vulnerable to recruitment in the sex industry, NFE offers a viable alternative to women who are desperate for a means to survive.

In Cambodia’s patriarchal culture, women are largely dependent on their husbands, fathers or brothers for financial support.  Many NFE students have either lost a provider to sickness or death, or have been abused by him.  In either case, they are left to fend for themselves, unskilled, uneducated, and often with children to feed.

Rather than distributing aid, NFE 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 developing world:  literacy, mathematics, conflict resolution, nutrition, financial management, and HIV awareness and prevention, to name a few.

Women share these skills and knowledge not only with their children, but also with their friends and neighbors, amplifying the program’s impact. And because educated women have healthier babies and are more likely to educate their children, this training course is a boon not just to students, but also to the next generation.

Partner: Khemara 

Supported by: Buddhist Global Relief • Forix Foundation • GlobalGiving Foundation