A Month in the Foreign Department 
A quick look back at the month of January provides a window into volunteers’ experiences at DEPDC/GMS. The diverse team of international volunteers makes up the Foreign Department* of DEPDC/GMS, with six current volunteers hailing from Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. Working in both the Mae Sai headquarters and the Chiang Khong center, they have the amazing opportunity to share in a wide cross-section of the organization’s work, including some volunteer tasks that you might not have known about.
One of the duties of volunteers is to host visitors to the Center. Visitor groups from universities, NGOs, and interested parties regularly come to learn about DEPDC/GMS and the situation of trafficking in the border area. Our volunteer Jessica provided a DEPDC/GMS presentation and tour on two occasions in January, first for a group of graduate students from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, and then for Susan Stevenson, the new American Consul General in Chiang Mai. “It is so powerful to meet with people who are seeing DEPDC’s anti-trafficking efforts firsthand,” Jessica reports.
Volunteers also provide essential English-language administration support for the smooth functioning of DEPDC/GMS. From office-based work like answering the main e-mail account and maintaining an electronic database of supporters, to writing grant proposals for funding support, “these seemingly mundane tasks form the backbone of much of the organization’s work” says Sarah, one of the volunteers from the US. Additionally, volunteers are involved with advancing long-term projects such as the virtual redesign of DEPDC/GMS’ website and the physical design of an upcoming museum-style exhibition opening on DEPDC/GMS’ grounds.
Finally, volunteers are able to take part in the multitude of special events that are always happening at DEPDC/GMS. In January, volunteers joined with English students to visit a local lake and caves and took part in vocational workshops. At Chiang Khong, a visiting nurse from the United States offered a health training session, instructing the girls in the Center on the Heimlich Maneuver. This was the first of a series of health and hygiene workshops arranged by our Chiang Khong-based volunteer Ouleye. She remarked, “Through this workshop series, we can reinforce the health and hygiene information the girls already receive from the staff at the Chiang Khong Center, and build their skills for health for a lifetime!”
DEPDC/GMS accepts long-term volunteers from around the world, with a minimum time commitment of six months. For more information about volunteering at DEPDC/GMS, please visit our volunteer page or contact us via e-mail.
Click here to read to Part 1!
*The Foreign Department was recently renamed into “International Department”.