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.
We are pleased to welcome Julie, an American volunteer who joined us at our headquarters in Mae Sai last month after spending the last two years here in Thailand teaching English. Julie taught in several different parts of the country while also improving her Thai language fluency and literacy. She brings with her altogether more than four years of experience in Thailand and a genuine desire to utilize her teaching, language, and writing skills to contribute to DEPDC’s efforts to prevent and protect young people, in particular those of at-risk groups and communities, from labor exploitation, sex trafficking, and other forms of human rights violations.
“Doing humanitarian work in Thailand has been an aspiration of mine since the initial time that I lived in the country during my early twenties, the first period of which was when I joined a study abroad program from my undergraduate college in 1998 to study for a semester at Assumption University (ABAC) in Bangkok. The program attracted me especially because our group would have opportunities for volunteer service, cultural enrichment, and independent travel, and because I majored in Philosophy and was very keen to learn about eastern cultures and religions firsthand in Thailand and other parts of Asia. I also had a growing interest in ethics and human rights, and my experience during those six months opened my eyes wide to the world and to my own cultural conditioning. This sparked a profound internal change which, along with an affinity for Thailand and the Thai people, motivated me to return upon my graduation in 2000 to teach English as a Foreign Language for a year in Bangkok and then in Khon Kaen for another year. I then went back to the United States and worked as a social worker and a teacher, all the while with a persistent sense of wonder about what I could do in Thailand as a trained teacher of EFL, and then with further cross-cultural experience and advanced Thai language skills what I could eventually do there as a humanitarian worker.”
“An increasingly burning need to find out led me to return to the country in 2011 to do a full TEFL course and I have since immersed myself in the culture as a full-time teacher of all ages from pre-school through adult, as well as a largely self-taught learner of Thai. Within about two years, after witnessing evidence of human rights issues almost daily while living and working in Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son, and Bangkok, I knew it was time to move forward into a position to do something about it. I discovered the impressive work DEPDC has been doing and, with much reflection on my personal experiences and knowledge of the social issues which have historically affected women and children globally, I pursued a position as a volunteer with the organization in Mae Sai. I have thoroughly enjoyed my work here thus far teaching English and Thai, writing articles, researching human trafficking and grant opportunities, developing training materials, and most of all learning from and getting to know the Thai staff and my fellow international volunteers. I am grateful and inspired to be a part of DEPDC and to be able to utilize my skills and experience in a variety of ways to contribute to its mission.”
This week we would like to introduce you to Matt, one of our new international volunteers currently volunteering in Mae Sai. Matt is a university student from Sydney, Australia, and was with DEPDC earlier in January as part of a short volunteer program organized by International Student Volunteers (ISV). While they were in Thailand at the Swimming Home, our site in Mae Chan, the ISV group helped with a DEPDC project to build a day-care center and the experience was so rewarding that Matt came back six months later to work with DEPDC again. He knew nothing about human trafficking and very little about Thailand when he first came, but after he was told about the situation he felt like he had to become more involved in human trafficking prevention.
“From where I live in Australia I knew there were problems in the world, but they were so distant from everything I was surrounded by that, to be honest, I rarely gave them much thought. I was at university one day and an ISV spokesperson came into the lecture I was in and said ‘we offer these volunteer programs, they’re affordable and we arrange a lot of the details for you, come along to one of our on-campus seminars if you’re interested.’ I’d thought about volunteering before so I figured I’d go along and see what I could find out. After about thirty minutes I was sold on a volunteer program in Thailand which eventually sent me and eleven other students to work for two weeks with DEPDC. I actually worked with another NGO after DEPDC, called Mae Kok Foundation, which I also love and am still in contact with, but I was so inspired by DEPDC’s approach to human trafficking prevention and by the tireless, passionate work of DEPDC’s staff that by the third night I’d decided I was coming back later that year. Even though in a perfect world I’d like to work with both, I had to choose, so I stuck with my decision, deferred my degree for a year and the rest is history.
“I love being here in Mae Sai, the work we do is always rewarding. It’s also the kind of work where you can see the achievements, especially with teaching, so even when it’s hard or you’re tired you can rely on the kids and the successes to keep you happy and positive. The atmosphere is great as well, all the staff being really nice and welcoming. Of course, you’ve got to take it in stride when everyone breaks into hysterics at your attempts to speak Thai, but it’s all in the family, so it’s always a good laugh. There’s no doubt there are lots of problems here in Mae Sai, and in Thailand and the world in general, but it’s a privilege to be part of an organization which is doing something about them. This time I won’t be here for very long in the scheme of things, only about a year or so. But I hope that this is just the beginning of a long relationship I have with DEPDC, Thailand and human rights work, and if I work hard and I’m lucky then I think my ambitions will work out. But whatever happens in the future, I’m here now and I’m already lucky to have come so far from listening to a spokesperson in a lecture theatre in Sydney back in 2012.”
This week we would like to introduce you to Erica, one of our new international volunteers who is currently volunteering at our HQ in Mae Sai. Erica graduated with a B.A in Chinese Studies from the University College Cork, Ireland. As part of her four year course, she spent a year studying at Shanghai University. Here, for the first time, she was exposed to the seedier nature of several aspects of Chinese culture and on her return to Ireland, decided to focus all of her energy on researching human trafficking.
Erica says ‘For my final year, I centered my dissertation on trafficking and used every presentation as a chance to learn more. Every time I read a new article or book, there was something to shock me. After graduation, I couldn’t think of a single thing I was more passionate about than trafficking, so I set about looking for volunteering options. Many people ask me why I chose Thailand when my degree is in Chinese, this is simply because finding a Chinese NGO working against trafficking that accepted international volunteers proved much harder than I thought it would. Another area of interest to me however, was the Greater Mekong Sub region.
I found DEPDC/GMS after coming across the volunteer application on Omprakesh, applied, was accepted and am living it! Volunteering here so far has been an amazing experience and working next to like minded people is a huge part of that. The kids and the staff are welcoming and kind and the work is hard but rewarding. Every day offers new opportunities for inspiration. ‘
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!!!!