The GATE and GATEways objective is to enhance the life options of at-risk girls and their families and to reduce their vulnerability to violence and trafficking.The GATE program currently provides primary and secondary educational scholarships and holistic support to 422 girls in Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap and Phnom Penh provinces. This past year 87 GATEways scholars were supported by Lotus Outreach and Cambodian Women’s Crises Center (CWCC) which was made possible through the support of donors like you. The following is Sima's story, a driven scholar that has been supported by both the GATE and GATEways program.
Sima, who is currently twenty-three, joined the GATE program in tenth grade. Sima states, “My family situation was such that going from grade sixth to grade seventh my parents wanted me to drop school and I did not attend school in the 2nd semester. Being very young at that time I had to follow my parents, and although the CWCC were looking for scholarship girls, my parents did not hear about it.”
When Sima was in ninth grade her parents were again putting pressure on her to drop out of school due to family poverty. Once the school principle found out she immediately approached Sima’s parents and let them know that she Sima could receive a GATE scholarship if they kept her in school.
While Sima was receiving her GATE scholarship, she was determined to make a positive change for all of the GATE scholars. It is importantly noted that when Sima sees room for improvement, she lets people know! Sima was the first student to request rice support which inevitably became part of the GATE program. Sima also requested that stipends be distributed in the beginning of the month rather than middle, to make paying rent and purchasing food easier. Sima has shown signs of her forward thinking since highschool!
Sima said, “I was the special case in 2010 and while two other girls didn’t get the funds untill later, I got my stipend every month.” Sima reflects on her past, “In grade 11 I decided I wanted to be a lawyer. One of my friends told me she wanted to be a lawyer and we were one and two in the class. We were very competitive. We also ended up studying in the same university and we were always competing, she even did the French degree as well.”
Upon her graduation a few years later she received a scholarship at the Royal University of Law and Economics. After graduating from University with a double degree in Law and French with the support of GATEways, Sima received a scholarship to peruse her Masters degree in Law. Although this was a great opportunity, Sima’s family requested that she take a few years off of school because they needed her to work to help make ends meet.
In July 2014, Sima started at working for ADHOC(The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association). Since then, her salary has increased impressively and she is now sending more than half of her salary home to her family. Some of the money that she is sending home is supporting one of her sisters in school.
Sima speaks about her recent job experience, “First I was working for enfant du Mekong as a social worker, not really the job I wanted. Then I saw there was a job available at ADHOC. The job is teaching Law to the community and I really love that. It was especially interesting to me as it is helpful to the community to teach them about rights. Sometimes I advise them on how to approach the court – domestic violence/gender/women’s rights/marriage – right age and not forced – marriage certificate – many of them don’t therefore have marriage certificate / rape.”
“70% of the rape cases I have put forward have been processed in the court and I do the follow-up to ensure case are being taken up or issue a legal position to push the process and ensure the case is going through the court toward a verdict,” Sima says proudly(rightfully so!).
Sima plans to go back to school to earn her Masters in Law after a few years of working. We are encouraging her because of the great work we know she will do and the many lives that she will impact