A few months ago, Ianic Camirand, a Canadian from Montreal, developed the idea of introducing Buddhist Education as a school subject to an NGO whose mission is to help children. The project was born out of her idea to help human trafficking survivors, orphans and underprivileged children by teaching them Buddhist philosophy to bring confidence, guidance, hope and peace to their lives.
With the help of the Canadian Embassy in Thailand, Ianic learnt about DEPDC/GMS. She was particularly impressed by the organisation’s focus on prevention to stop the trafficking of children and youth into the sex industry or other exploitative child labour situations. DEPDC/GMS offers free education, vocational training and full-time accommodation for young girls and boys in an effort to achieve these goals.
From Canada, Ianic contacted Sompop Jantraka, the founder-director of DEPDC/GMS, to pitch her idea to him. He agreed that Buddhist teachings would help to boost children’s confidence and offer them a positive direction in life, and he suggested a plan and budget to make ‘The Buddhist Project’ a reality. With the help of generous donations from her family, friends and colleagues in Canada, the USA and Japan, Ianic managed to raise the necessary funds to get her project under way. Let’s hear what Ianic has to tell you about her project.
“In early May, I arrived at DEPDC/GMS in Mae Sai, Northern Thailand. Here I met Kru Somboon, DEPDC’s Head Teacher and Head of Health Development. Once himself a monk for a period of ten years, he was an extraordinary help in getting the project started. By mid-May, Kru Somboon and I had established the schedule and curriculum for the Buddhist classes. Now it was time to invite local monks to provide the actual teaching. We went out and visited monks at the Wat Phatak and Wat Thamphajom temples and presented the Buddhist education project. Monks at both temples along with a monk from Wat Phromwiharn agreed to participate in the project, and to come to DEPDC/GMS to give classes in Buddhism!”
The Buddhist Project started on June 4th, 2010, with classes for the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders of DEPDC’s Half Day School. The children instantly took to the new classes. The first lessons covered Buddha’s life; currently, the children learn about the Four Noble Truths that teach the philosophy of relinquishing and being free from suffering. Talks are under way to extend The Buddhist Project to include the Mekong Regional Indigenous Child Rights Home (MRICRH), another branch of DEPDC/GMS. The MRICRH is a community-based support service and safe shelter for trafficking victims. If deemed suitable, The Buddhist Project will expand to include children at this shelter within the next few months.