Category Archives: Volunteers
Volunteering at DEPDC can be very rewarding for the volunteer, DEDPC staff and the children. Volunteers are always welcome at our main DEPDC site in Mae Sai or our other centre in Chiang Kong. We have had volunteers from America, Canada, Europe and Japan and some have stayed for up to 3 years. There are approximately six foreign volunteers at any one time here who stay for 6 months or more.
DEPDC Chiang Khong and Mae Chan are recruiting!
We may accept short-term volunteers who can offer a specific skill set. We also have opportunities available at our headquarters in Mae Sai starting at the end of this year.
Please share this information with anyone you know who might be interested.
This week we would like to introduce you to Patricia, our new international volunteer at DEPDC Chiang Khong. She is originally from Spain but has lived in England for many years. Pat graduated from East London University (UK) in 2011. She studied Third World Development and Psychosocial Studies because she wanted to “change the world.” Although this has proved much more difficult in practice than it ever seemed in theory, she is firmly convinced that a better world is possible.
After finishing her degree in England, Pat returned to Spain. During this time, she took courses in development, gender, NGO management, French, and Catalan, as well as volunteering for the Red Cross. Pat’s goal was to join a development organization abroad and gain practical experience in the field. She was delighted when DEPDC offered her the opportunity to come to Thailand and become part of the International Department as a long-term volunteer.
Pat first visited Thailand in 2008 for what was supposed to be just a holiday. However, her short trip became much more than that when she witnessed the enormous scale of the country’s sex industry. She became very interested in the issue of prostitution in Southeast Asia, particularly sex tourism, and it became the topic of her final thesis at university.
Pat is the only international volunteer based at DEPDC’s shelter for at-risk girls in Chiang Khong. One of her projects is running a daily English Language After School Club. The club provides the girls with an informal setting where they feel comfortable practicing their English skills, leaving their fears of foreign languages behind.
More recently, Pat has initiated a long-term project to teach the girls about environmental protection. It addresses issues such as waste management, the 3 “R” concept (reduce, reuse, recycle), consumerism, and sustainability. She also helps with English language correspondence, visitors, and the DEPDC newsletter and blog.
She plans to stay with us until the end of this year. She is currently studying Thai language, which she hopes will enable her to discuss a wider range of issues with the girls.
Pat is especially enjoying living at the centre with the girls and developing close relationships with them. You will often find Pat and the girls riding bicycles together across the paddy fields as the sun sets on the horizon. Surely the best moment of the day!
Hi everybody! We are pleased to introduce you this week to one of our current volunteers, Natalie from Texas in the United States. Natalie joined us back in October of 2012 at our Mae Sai site.
Before she came to Thailand, Natalie worked for many years as a teacher in the US. After graduating from university, she taught at a private school for gifted children in Austin, Texas. In her first year there, she assistant-taught in a primary classroom, specializing in early literacy skills. For the next two years Natalie worked as a lead teacher, instructing students ranging in age from five to thirteen in English, French, World Geography, and various seminar classes. She also performed many administrative duties at this school, researching time allocation of core subjects and writing the elementary school schedule, organizing all field trips for grades K – 12, and recruiting guest lecturers for elementary seminar courses.
Subsequently, Natalie has taught SAT Prep to high school students in Texas, worked as a buyer in an Austin clothing store, and volunteered with a local, socially-responsible clothing business called Open Arms, teaching many of their employees – all refugee women from countries around the world – EFL and literacy skills. Natalie has longed for years to come to northern Thailand and do volunteer work to combat the child sex trade. She is overjoyed to be working at DEPDC Mae Sai to educate at-risk youth, as she strongly believes that this is an effective tool in preventing child trafficking and empowering children.
At our Mae Sai site, Natalie teaches English to grades K.2 – G.4-6 at the Half Day School (HDS), teaches Staff English, and teaches adult community members English as a part of the Community Learning Center (CLC) program. Natalie also helps out with social media (she made the Children’s Day video!), writes for our newsletter, and does some report writing. During her last two months at DEPDC, Natalie is writing a teaching manual for all future international volunteers who will be teaching English who may not have had much previous experience or training in education.
Some of Natalie’s favorite experiences at DEPDC so far have been playing games in HDS classes and watching her students have fun learning English, riding her beloved motorbike around town, playing soccer with the HDS kids on Sports Day, and having a class discussion with her CLC students about what they want to do with their lives and hearing so many thoughtful responses about how her students want to help others and try to make the world a better place.
Dear family and friends, old and new,
The fundraising project has successfully reached and gone BEYOND its GOAL. The total amount raised was 1,230 EUROS! DEPDC would like to say a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who donated!! We are so excited by the great success of this fundraising project and deeply touched by everyone’s contribution. Thank you. Here is a message from Patricia, our volunteer who set up the fundraising project:
The fundraising project to renovate the bathroom area at DEPDC´s shelter home in Chiang Khong has come to an end.
I just wanted to send you a few lines, first of all to let you know about the end of this first phase of the fundraising project. Secondly, I wanted to express my deepest gratitude to all of you who have contributed to make this modest idea of mine a hopeful reality. It isn’t important whether you contributed 5 euros or 100. What is important to me is that you trusted me in this venture, and for that I will always be grateful to every single one of you.
I never could have imagined we would raise so much money in such a short period of time. Our initial goal of 500 euros was quickly surpassed thanks to word of mouth. As our project was mentioned in DEPDC´s blog, many more friends joined this cause and encouraged us to go further and aim at raising 1000 euros to ensure the work was done properly. And we not only managed to raise 1000 euros, we surpassed the goal in only a few days!!!
THANK YOU AGAIN.
But now, keeping up with my promise to inform you about how the project develops, I would like you to know that the total amount raised is: 1,230 euros.
However, you should be aware that there are some charges to be added to this final amount:
1. 5% commission for GoFundMe.com
2. 3.4% Paypal Fees (paid by the receiver)
3. Sending fees for Western Union (Paypal sends the amount raised to my Spanish bank account, and then I have the money transferred to Thailand through Western Union.)
I know most of you did not know about these extra charges, but I was well aware from the beginning. As the scope of the project was fairly small at the beginning, I thought this was the best way of doing it. I do not have a bank account here in Thailand, and since most of my friends and relatives would be paying in euros, I thought it was best to use my Spanish account.
Anyhow, I take responsibility for these charges and will pay them myself. This way, I will also make my little contribution to this project.
We will continue to keep everyone updated via the DEPDC blog! You will be seeing pictures before, during, and after construction. At the moment it is still the cool season in Thailand, and the girls are still living at the centre. We will probably start construction in March, when the weather is hotter (cement dries faster then) and when the girls go back home to visit their families.
Best regards to all,
We would like to introduce to everyone Patricia from Spain, our newest volunteer currently working at the Chiang Khong centre of DEPDC. The Chiang Khong centre provides full time accommodation and educational support for 21 girls from the local community who otherwise would not be attending school and therefore would be at risk of being trafficked for labour or sexual purposes.
When Patricia arrived she saw that the centre was really in need of new squat toilets and sinks for the girls. After consulting with our Project Coordinator P’Tu, Patricia is fundraising for this project and is on her way to making the new facilities a reality!
The budget needed for this project (new squat toilets and sinks) is 500 EUROS. Patricia has already fundraised 320 EUROS from family, friends, and acquaintances.
This little (project) will not only help these 21 girls but also all the future residents at DEPDC Chiang Khong.…it is often the case with non for profit organisations, their budget is pretty tight and one of the things that struck me the most when I arrived here was the state of the bathroom area. I would like to contribute a little bit into the welfare of these girls by fixing the bathroom area.
There are 4 toilets cabinets but the walls were never painted and the concrete is now covered by a green layer of mold. The squat toilets are really old and it only makes it even more anti hygienic. These 4 cubicles are supposed to serve the girls as toilets, showers, and sink area…I truly think these girls could do with a separate sink area, where making sure they get into the routine of washing up their hands thoroughly with soap after using the toilet.
Basically, the plan is:
1. Painting the walls with a nice colour paint that resist humidity and maybe get the girls to decorate the walls with nice little drawings.
2. Replace the old squat toilets for brand new ones.
3. Build a very simple long sink structure right in front of the toilet cubicle.”
I am aware that the current financial times are not the ideal to ask anyone for money. But I only ask you, friends and relatives, to contribute to this cause with just 5 Euros each…. It´s just 5 euros!! Please I beg you to join this cause with as much as you would spend for a Starbucks coffee in London, or a beer tapa in Spain… if I could get 100 people to donate 5 euros each (or 50 people donating 10 euros each..) that would make up the 500 euros needed for this project, easily, without asking anyone for a big effort
Thank you all!!!!
From the 23rd June until the 2nd August DEPDC/GMS hosted three International Student Volunteer (ISV) groups: Altogether a total of thirty volunteers. Each group volunteered for nine days and worked extremely hard building a wall and teaching the students at the Half Day School (HDS) in Mae Sai.
The ISV groups certainly had their work cut out for them, but were well up to the tasks at hand. Each group began their nine day stay at 9am on a Monday by putting on working gloves and building a wall around the perimeter of the HDS in Mae Sai. Every group found this work challenging, but enjoyed the experience and knew it was of great value to DEPDC/GMS.
The volunteers rotated teaching the kindergarten classes in the mornings and in the afternoons everyone could get involved in teaching or playing sports and games with the students. Although, at times, this was almost as demanding as building the wall everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. The students were delighted to see some new faces at the HDS and were eager to get involved in all the activities designed by the ISV groups. Some volunteers even hosted the Fun English Show on DEPDC/GMS’ Child Voice Radio, and had great fun putting together a show and broadcasting it.
When each group was asked how they found their experience the response was always the same. They all loved it! They felt playing sports and games with the students were the best ways to communicate as the language barrier did not matter in these cases. Some commented that they saw the students really open up and come out of their shells over the nine days. Overall everyone enjoyed their time at DEPDC/GMS and had fun experiencing a new culture.
DEPDC/GMS would like to thank all the ISV volunteers and group leaders for their hard work and their time, and we wish them all the best for the future.
My name is Angela Khoshnoud and I recently returned home after wrapping up my six-month volunteer term at DEPDC/GMS in March. When I first learned about human trafficking a few years ago during my undergraduate studies, I decided this was an issue I needed to fight in one way or another, although I had no idea at the time where that passion would take me. After discovering DEPDC and Sompop Jantraka through my home university, the University of Michigan, I made plans to graduate early, move to Thailand, and join DEPDC as an international volunteer.
In the months leading up to my departure, I tried picturing what my life in Mae Sai would be like and I continually drew a blank. Prior to arriving at DEPDC, I knew a fair amount about human trafficking, less about statelessness, and absolutely nothing about the amazing relationships that I would make in Mae Sai. While my days primarily consisted of teaching the Half Day School (HDS) and Community Learning Center (CLC), my evenings were spent with some of my students or fellow volunteers shopping at local markets, eating street food, and visiting some of my students’ families at their homes. At DEPDC, I was welcomed like family rather than treated like a foreigner, and I learned so much more from being with my students and fellow staff members than I could ever teach in a classroom.
In a culture where showing anger is considered a weakness, patience is a way of life, and smiling is contagious, I was taught countless invaluable lessons. Living in Thailand taught me to trust myself, to follow my heart and not let anything hold me back from what I want, to not stress over things out of my control, and above all else, to enjoy every moment to the fullest. My students taught me to appreciate everything you have, to give whenever possible, and the importance of valuing the people in your life.
When friends and family at home ask me what I miss the most about my life in Thailand, expecting mango sticky rice or my motorbike to be my initial response, I can’t help but smile as I explain that I miss all of my students and fellow DEPDC staff and volunteers the most. Not a day goes by that I don’t smile at the thought of Monday mornings with my first-graders or Friday night dinners with my CLC students. Luckily, many of my Thai and Burmese friends are on Facebook, and staying in contact with them from 9,000 miles away is much easier than I’d anticipated. I’m incredibly grateful to be able to connect with my friends on the other side of the globe via email, Skype, and Facebook and I am so happy to be able to share my experience with everyone at home . I cannot put into words how thankful I am that my path crossed with so many brilliant and amazing individuals in Thailand who touched my life in ways I never anticipated.
I am now back in America, starting a Master’s in Social Work program at the University of Chicago this fall. I plan to continue fighting human trafficking within the United States as well as globally throughout my future career, and I very much look forward to the day I can return to Thailand.
Thank you to everyone who was a part of my experience in Mae Sai and to DEPDC for giving me the opportunity to meet so many incredible people, learn, and grow in ways I’ll always remember. To everyone at DEPDC: kid teung maak na kha!
Everyone here at DEPDC/GMS would like to give a shout out to one of our International Volunteers, Alexandra (Ali) Denis! This year, Ali decided that she wanted to do something meaningful for her birthday rather than receive gifts from friends and family members.
“I just realized that I didn’t need anymore material things or any money; I figured that the money could be better spent.” In March, Ali celebrated her “Golden Birthday”, meaning that she would be turning the same age as her birth date. She decided that it would be the perfect opportunity to raise money for the amazing organization that has been impacting her life for the past few months.
“When deciding what organization to raise money for it was a no-brainer, DEPDC/GMS has welcomed me as a volunteer and I have witnessed the positive impact that they have on the youth and the community in Mae Sai and in the greater Mekong sub-region.”
Ali raised $625 USD (18,750 Thai Baht!) through Global Giving, one of DEPDC/GMS’s partners, to be used towards the Half Day School and the Community Learning Center. Once again DEPDC/GMS would sincerely like to thank Ali for volunteering her time here at DEPDC/GMS and for her generous donation!
If you would like to donate or fundraise for DEPDC/GMS please visit our donation page! DEPDC/GMS is grateful for any and all donations in support of our many programmes!
“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” – Margaret Mead