First things first, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of our foreign friends! We hope you’re thoroughly enjoying your holiday season. In addition to that, we’d like to say thank you to you all for the help you’ve given to DEPDC/GMS this year and in the last 26 years. Your generosity is a big part of the reason why we are here to celebrate this holiday season as well.
DEPDC/GMS has had an amazing 26 years since it was founded by Khun Sompop Jantraka in 1989. Our mission is to prevent at-risk children from becoming victims of human trafficking and exploitative labour, be it forced labour or sexual exploitation. Ethnic minorities, stateless people and impoverished communities are most vulnerable to the threat of human trafficking, especially women and children. Because of this, we operate in the border regions of Northern Thailand which have many porous borders, widespread poverty, and concentrations of hill tribes, ethnic minorities and stateless people. These are the communities that our children come from, many of whom are stateless, while some, according to the law, are completely invisible and don’t even technically exist at all. Here, child trafficking is a major issue, and many of our daughters and sons live in the shadow cast by the widespread exploitation of vulnerable women and children which occurs throughout Northern Thailand and the Greater Mekong Subregion.
Our program gives them the tools they need to escape this shadow by ensuring that our children have free education, life skills training, empowerment, and knowledge about the rights they have and the threats they face. In this way, we ensure that they can grow to be self-sufficient adults who can avoid danger and live safe, happy lives without feeling as though they need to allow themselves to be exploited simply in order to survive.
Over the last quarter century, DEPDC/GMS has had the privilege to work with thousands of children and received many humbling awards for its work, including two Nobel Peace Prize nominations for Khun Sompop, the Raoule Wallenberg Medal from Michigan University (previous winners of which include the Dalai Lama), the World’s Children’s Honorary Award from the Swedish Royal Family, as well as many others. However, proud as we are of these awards and accolades, we are most proud that, after 26 years of developing, refining, implementing and researching the effects of our program, we can say that more than 97% of the daughters and sons who pass through our doors remain safe from trafficking and exploitation.
Nonetheless, while we are glad to celebrate this achievement, enormous problems remain for human and child trafficking in Thailand, and our job is far from over. Two important things have happened in just the past two weeks which illustrate the continuing gravity of the situation. One, Thailand’s top human trafficking investigator sought asylum in Australia, saying he feared for his life after his investigations implicated top Thai officials in Thailand’s human trafficking industry. Two, despite years of Thai governments promising to address the human trafficking and forced labour problem in Thailand, the Associated Press reported on the magnitude of the forced labour problem in Thailand’s shrimp and seafood industry. These things are not unrelated, the problem is serious and urgent, and kids like ours are the ones most at risk.
We’re here doing what we’ve done for over 25 years, and we’re not going to stop while there’s still work to be done. We’re ready to carry on the fight, and we hope that you’ll be here to support us during our next 25 years like you did during our first. If you’d like to make a donation this holiday season to support DEPDC/GMS and the work it does, we and our daughters and sons would be extremely grateful. We don’t do any advertising or marketing, so every dollar donated goes directly to our anti-trafficking program and the children we serve. To show you how far your support can go, we made a short list to show how much of a difference it can make. In US dollars, this is what your donations are able to provide for the children who attend our Half Day School in Mae Sai.
- $10 feeds one child for a whole month
- $10 provides one child with 6 months of English/Thai/Burmese lessons
- $45 provides all 70 children with fresh fruit for one whole week
- $100 provides all 70 children with 3 months of agricultural life skills training
- $200 provides all 70 children with trafficking prevention training
- $270 provides a Half Day School staff member with an entire month’s salary
- $300 provides all 70 children with vaccines, check-ups, and emergency medical care for one full year
- $325 pays for all utilities at the Half Day School for an entire month
If you’d like to make a general donation, these are the worthy causes that your money will go to. If you’d like to make a more specific donation to a particular part of our program, please feel free to visit our GlobalGiving page here and choose which of our five projects you’d most like to support.
Thank you again for supporting DEPDC/GMS and everything it works for. Just by reading this post and staying up to date with what’s going on at our centres you’re making a major contribution. If you’re also providing a donation, we’d like to extend to you a special thanks. The money you so generously donate goes much further and provides more benefit to the kids than most people realise. It’s thanks to people like you that we’ve been able to do what we’ve done for more than a quarter of a century, and it’ll be that same support from our many friends around the world that enables us to continue our mission and make a change in the lives of vulnerable children in Northern Thailand and throughout the Greater Mekong Subregion. We hope that this post finds you happy, healthy and enjoying yourselves this holiday season. All the best and lots of love from all of us here at DEPDC/GMS, especially our children.