Over the weekend, hundreds of former daughters, sons, staff and volunteers came back to join us at HDS to celebrate DEPDC/GMS and everything it’s accomplished over the last 25 years. We were also joined by monks who generously provided a blessing for DEPDC/GMS and its future.
On Saturday, everyone started arriving and greeting one another. For some of them, it’s been years and even decades since they’ve seen each other. The centre and Mae Sai have changed a lot since many of them were last here. 10-15 years ago. The program existed, but the school that we teach in now didn’t exist when some of our daughters and sons were here, while Mae Sai not so long had at most one concrete road and rice fields spreading off into the distance on either side.
For some, coming back was surreal – they barely recognised the town they used to live in. But for all, coming back to see the development of DEPDC/GMS and retell old stories was really special. So many people have been involved in DEPDC/GMS, but few have been here for the whole time, so hearing everyone’s stories about the past was extremely interesting – there’s so much we didn’t know and so many good stories to tell!
We all ate together throughout Saturday afternoon and night, catching up and making new friends. Our very own Khun Sompop and his friend Khun Apii-Chid performed a song for the crowd after having a jam session together the night before to prepare. They’re old friends from university and used to play in the same band, so it was fun to see part of the band back together.
We lit a bonfire to top off the night before everyone went to bed, many of them in the classrooms at the school, which had been converted into bedrooms like back in the old days!
Sunday started with ‘making merit’, a Thai custom in which people perform good actions to show virtue and atone for misdeeds. The rest of the day was a constant celebration featuring dances from some of our young daughters, displays of culture from our Akha and Thai Yai daughters, speeches from our directors thanking everyone who came to celebrate and who’ve helped to get us this far, and lots and lots of delicious food.
It was a beautiful day to spend with family and friends, and as the day wore on and people slowly melted away to their homes, we all keenly felt the warm sense of family and community that DEPDC/GMS has been providing for the last quarter century.
Many people made generous donations to the program to which many of them say they owe their lives – many of whom have gone on to do amazing things, even advising the UN on matters of poverty and child trafficking! We’re extremely proud of their accomplishments and deeply grateful that they came back to support the children today as others once came to support them.
If you’d also like to give your support, we’d love to have you on board! If you’ve ever considered getting involved and volunteering, please don’t hesitate to visit the volunteer information page on our blog and get in touch. We always love having more members in our international family, and your help will go further than you can imagine. Or if you can’t volunteer but feel like you’d like to make a contribution, please visit our GlobalGiving donations page here to pick which of our programs you’d like to contribute to, like our sustainable agriculture project or our lunch program. Thank you for reading and we wish you all the best.