Thailand’s New “Stop Violence” Campaign

On September 22 at 9:00AM, in front of the Mae Sai Municipality Office, the Thai government launched a campaign to stop all forms of violence against women and girls under the concept “Stop Violence…LET’S GO TO ASEAN 2016”. The campaign involved more than 100 students in Mae Sai and more than 8 NGO that were arranged into 5 parades and 3 orchestral bands.

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DEPDC/GMS has decided to join this campaign, which aims to educate people and increase awareness about domestic and family violence. This campaign was initiated by her Royal Highness, Princess Bajrakitiyabha. She is aware of the people’s problems and suffering, especially concerning violence to women, both physically and mentally. Her motto is “Say No to Violence against Women” to mark her designation as a Goodwill Ambassador in Thailand.

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Violence against women and girls is a very concerning issue in Thailand. Experts in the field of domestic violence counseling say that many statistics fail to show the full extent of the problem due to underreporting; a problem many other countries in the world face as well. Many of the minority ethnic group victims are less likely to seek help in the face of violence because of their lack of legal status, inability to properly communicate in Thai, and limited knowledge of their rights.

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DEPDC/GMS focuses on education with hopes of solving the issues of human trafficking, child labor, teenage pregnancy, and various forms of violence against children and youth. In order to continue our work, we need your kind support, concern and help.  If you would like to give, please visit our project page at GlobalGiving.

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The Rice is Growing!

Every year at the Half Day School, the students and teachers come together during the rainy season to plant rice. HDS grows their own rice to support the lunch program and help feed the students. Last year, the rice harvest was less than expected due to a dry rainy season. This year we are hoping for a better harvest.

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Last week, the students harvested, cleaned and replanted the rice we had begun growing. Starting with a small plot the students, with the help of P’Noom, planted rice and allowed it to grow to create a start for the rest of the harvest. Once the rice grew to the proper size, as it was last week, all of the students and teachers got together for a full afternoon of harvesting.

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All of our students worked to pull up the rice plants, clean the roots and bundle them together to make planting the next day easier. The next morning, all of them got back to work and replanted all of the rice plants from the day before. After the full day Friday, all three of the Half Day School’s rice paddies were filled with plants. Now we will wait for the next three months or so for the rice to grow to its full height. Come December the students will be able to enjoy all of their hard work!

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Well… not all of our students helped out-a water filled paddy is too much fun to resist!

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Happiness U Can Give: A Photo Blog

This week we had Happiness U Can Give, a foundation based in Chiang Rai, come visit us at the Half Day School. They came and performed all afternoon for our students and children from Baan Doi and Baannana. All the students also each performed a song and Ajan Sompop sang to close out the show! 

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All of our students enjoyed the show and were thankful to Happiness U Can Give for joining us! Well, maybe not all of our students…

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What is the Marshmallow Test?

Did you ever hear about the Marshmallow Test? This is one of the most influential psychological experiment about self-control by Walter Mischel. The test is quite simple. A small child was served a marshmallow and was given two choices: you can eat one marshmallow now or, if you can wait, you get to eat two marshmallows later. If you were that child, could you wait for that tortured moment? The research found that that the children who were able to wait longer for the two marshmallows were more likely to have better life outcomes and more successful life styles. The study emphasized that delayed gratification and self-control are major factors for a successful life.

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Then, what about our children in the Swimming Home shelter or at the Half Day School? Although I have yet to conduct the same experiment so far, but I bet all of our children would eat the marshmallow in a second. It is not surprising at all. According to recent psychological research, a children’s attitude can be different depending on the financial circumstance. The children in a poor environment tend to take action to get a certain reward immediately instead of waiting for an uncertain future reward. In other words, the effects of poverty, hunger and homelessness on children may lower self-control and patience for delayed gratification.

Why talk about this boring psychology research now? Because this research is associated with us here at DEPDC directly. While we are teaching children about English, music or dance, the children cannot sit on a chair more than 20 minutes and want more games, want to listen to music and play recklessly. As this is a struggle for many a new volunteer here, Ajan Sompop brought forward some good advice. He suggested to understand the children instead of only focusing on teaching them. It makes us here at DEPDC remember that the children are our teachers as much as we are their’s and we must learn everything from them. As a second recent research study said when poor children may have low self-control, children’s learning attitudes may be influenced by their poor families and bad risky environments. Therefore, our children may have a bad educational attitude based on external factors. Suddenly, we recognize that we should learn understanding above all to become a good teacher.

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DEPDC has had many teachers this term, from our new international volunteers to all of our International Student Volunteers, and all have learned just as much from our students as they have taught. All of our teaching here at DEPDC is about more than just teaching a subject, it is about teaching our children to understand, and in turn, learning to understand ourselves.

World Humanitarian Day

August 19th marks the United Nations’ World Humanitarian Day. Beginning in 2009, World Humanitarian Day has become a day to celebrate and recognize all humanitarian personnel and those who have lost their lives working for humanitarian causes. 

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This day was designated from the efforts of the Sérgio Vieira de Mello Foundation and his family working closely with the Ambassadors of France, Switzerland, Japan and Brazil. Sérgio Vieira de Mello dedicated his lifetime, over 30 years, to the United Nations. He served in some of the most challenging humanitarian situations in the world to reach the voiceless victims. He died, along with 21 colleagues, on August 19, 2003 in Baghdad creating a loss of a great humanitarian leader.

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With his legacy in mind, the Vieira de Mello family and friends founded the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation to continue his unfinished humanitarian mission to create and encourage dialogue between communities and victims of humanitarian crises. The Foundation sees World Humanitarian Day as a tribute to all humanitarian personnel who have made the ultimate sacrifices to make the world a better place for all victims of humanitarian crises and to encourage all those working to aspire to even greater heights in accomplishing their goals.

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For over 25 years, DEPDC/GMS has worked for humanitarian causes. Providing education, training, protection and rehabilitation for those women and children who are at-risk of being exploited or trafficked, our founder Mr. Sompop Jantraka is a man much like Sergio Vieira de Mello. If you would like to join Mr. Sompop and the DEPDC team on this humanitarian mission, please visit our Volunteer Information page for information on our volunteer positions and how to apply.

World Day Against Trafficking In Persons 2016

Last week on July 30, the United Nations brought attention to human trafficking with their annual World Day Against Trafficking In Persons. The International Labour Organization estimates that 21 million people are victims of forced labor or sexual exploitation. While not all of these victims are trafficked, it is estimated that millions of trafficking in persons victims.

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gave a statement last Saturday discussing the issues facing migrants and refugees and vulnerability that allows them to be preyed on. “Human traffickers prey on the most desperate and vulnerable. To end this inhumane practice, we must do more to shield migrants and refugees—and particularly young people, women and children—from those who would exploit their yearnings for a better, safer, and more dignified future.” He went on to mention that these would be key issues during the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants held this coming September. For his final words, Ban Ki-moon stated; “I urge everyone to recommit to protect, respect, and fulfill the human rights of all migrants and refugees. Creating and supporting well-governed, safe, and human rights-based migration and asylum procedures will be an important step towards ending the abhorrent practice of profiting from human despair and misery.”

13933305_1099370510157274_412042172_nBan Ki-moon was followed by statements from both the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) Executive Director and the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons. Their statements, as well as the full statement from Ban Ki-moon, can be read here.

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Here at DEPDC/GMS, we are working every day to combat these issues. With many of our students coming from migrant backgrounds, we see the issues facing these children everyday. DEPDC hopes that by giving our students an opportunity for education, we can bring them out of a state of vulnerability and they can go on to lead long and happy lives free from trafficking. To help DEPDC/GMS continue our work towards ending human trafficking, please visit our GlobalGiving page and support our projects.

Meet an International Volunteer: Yun

The International Department would like to introduce Yun, a banker became psychologist from Korea. Yun is the new long-term volunteer at DEPDC’s Swimming Home Shelter in Mae Chan. He is a certified psychologist, swimming trainer, and Korean language teacher.

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One of my favorite authors, Paulo Coelho said that “each human being has his own personal legend to be fulfilled and this is the reason he is in the world”. I strongly believe in his words, because I spent many years for finding my personal legend and realizing the meaning of my life, which I found when I met the children in the Mae Chan Swimming Home shelter. I am Yun Kwansub from South Korea. Only about a decade ago, I was an ordinary banker who had quite good salary and higher position in my work. Although I was satisfied with my life, I felt the emptiness of life somehow. After I broke up with my girlfriend, the feeling of emptiness was immense. I could not do anything else at that time. My life was getting boring, tedious and routine like a mouse in a wheel. Nothing was interesting to me. Another author, Mark Twain stressed about the life and said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” So I threw off my bowlines and sailed around the world in order to find the meaning of my life. Most of surrounding people including my family, colleagues, and acquaintances persuaded me to rethink my decision, but they could not stop me. Because I knew that is not my life at all. While I was travelling around the world, I met many different types of people whom I have never met before. They taught me how to have a flexible mindset, a different point of view to see the world from, and how to live their happy life. Through this long journey, I could find what I wanted to do and what my personal goal is. I was eager to be someone who is beneficial to the world.

I think that we have to act before we are ready sometimes. Although I have not built perfect careers to work at NGO, I am mentally ready to do it. So I decided to engage with activist NGOs instead of progressing to a master’s degree or a doctorate after I completed my bachelor’s degree in psychology. I researched many NGOs in the world for a month, only DEPDC in Thailand caught my eye. DEPDC has been in business for more than 25 years in order to prevent and to protect children and youths from being trafficked into exploitative labor conditions by providing proper education, vocational and life-skills training, and accommodation. This NGO’s achievements are remarkable. To change children’s life as well as shift the paradigm of local society is very impressive. I was sure that organization would help me to achieve my dream and learn many things from staff in DEPDC. Hence, I decided to apply to be a volunteer in DEPDC without any hesitation.

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After several long and boring days for the approval of my volunteer visa, I arrived in Chiang Rai, Thailand on 31, May in the end. I had been here once with my mother while travelling, but my attitude and mind are so different from that time. I have a stronger sense of responsibility and feel some pressure to do things well. While I was learning Thai language for a month at Chiang Rai Rajabhat University, I learned about basic Thai language, Thai culture and some political issues about the relationship between Myanmar and Thailand including migration, human trafficking, recent crime around the border region and, especially, the political issues between Myanmar and Thailand are too complicate to solve them instantly and simply. After know those issues. I highly respect and admire Khun Sompop who has dedicated the last 26 years of his life to migrated children from Myanmar to prevent human trafficking and sexual abuse. On 3 July, I came to the Mae Chan Swimming Home shelter with more concern than expectation. I was worried and stressed that I would not measure up to the task and fall short of expectations, but I recognized that these were all just unfounded concerns as soon as I met the children. When I saw their innocent faces, I felt that this is my work. What I have to and I will be able to my best for them. I am currently writing a blog post to provide news in the shelter to promote new potential cooperation and individual donations. During the day, the children go to school. When they return, I teach the children to swim and to play a music instrument, the ocarina. These activities encourage children to have a healthy level of physical and social activity and promote an active lifestyle all year long. Also, they would be able to improve their overall mood, and combat depression, anxiety and stress they have.

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I have never forgotten Khun Sompop’s words on the first day. He told me that we are like a farmer, planting seeds in the ground. Carefully and patiently nurture them, then the seeds will grow up and become a big tree naturally. Every child is an amazing seed turning into a big tree with beautiful flowers and juicy fruits. Our duty is parenting them, caring for them and observing them with strong feelings of affection and concern. As like his words, I want to be a volunteer to inspire and help my children to promote their life. For achieving the goal, I teach my children with modesty, patience and affection as a good farmer.

Thoughts and Photos from our Third ISV Group

Our third group of International Student Volunteers all kindly shared their thoughts, and photos, from the past two weeks that they spent with us here at HDS. 

image (9)“I am so excited for the time I spent with the staff and kids at DEPDC. The staff here have shown me what it’s like to love unconditionally and the kids have reminded me to smile despite what goes on around us. Being here has also made me more aware of the issues with human trafficking and it has given me a new perspective on life.” -Lianne

“My experience with ISV at DEPDC has opened my eyes to see the real issues that are happening outside of what I learn from social media or a textbook. The children at DEPDC have taught me to be thankful for the simple things. Seeing them smile warms my heart.” -Lavinia

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“ISV gave me a brand new perspective on human trafficking and showed me how rewarding global giving can be. I will never forget the staff, the teachers and the children (who are teachers too!). This was an incredible experience and I would recommend it to anyone who has a wild desire to make a change because you will surely make a difference being a part of this community.” -Anna

“My time here at DEPDC with ISV has been life altering. It has opened my eyes to the global issue of human trafficking. This center and the staff are doing incredible work through prevention and protection of these at-risk children. I have fallen in love with the center, their work and most of all the amazing children. I cannot begin to express how truly grateful I am for my time here.” -Becca

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“This experience was life changing. The kids are thriving in this program. The goal of prevention and protection I believe is achieved. The teachers and staff make this center a home and safe place for the kids to be themselves. Thank you for everything.” -Jean

“This experience has made me more aware of the struggles so many young children go through on a day to day basis. I am so glad and grateful I had the opportunity to meet such extraordinary kids who love to learn!” -Kim

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“I will never be able to express how grateful I am to have had this opportunity. Being here has opened my eyes to the horrible daily struggles facing so many children worldwide; problems I never would have dreamed of experiencing as a child. We are all human brings and it is essential that we act like it- that we treat each other with humanity; these children deserve it” -Rachel

“Getting to teach and play with the kids at DEPDC was a truly life changing experience! I came thinking I would teach them so much, but they taught me ever more! Those precious children will be in my heart forever!” -Lizzie

“I have learned a lot more than I expected to through the last two weeks. I came here to help these kids, but I got help from them. They smile unbelievably beautifully. They are unbelievably nice to each other. It was such an amazing experience to learn how I can appreciate every moment in my life. I could smile because of them, and I was happy to give them some reason to smile too. I also learned how I can make a difference for a better global society by sharing our thoughts about this society, environment and every aspect in life. I hope these kids grow up beautifully as they are now.” -Grace

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