Today, March 21, is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This is a serious issue that affects lives all throughout the Greater Mekong Sub-region and around the world, so we feel it’s important to talk openly about it and what we’re doing to curb it.
Like anywhere, you find racial discrimination throughout the Greater Mekong Sub-region. This can be between people from different countries, as well as between people of different ethnic backgrounds within the same country, both of which you find in Mae Sai, a town on Thailand’s northern border with Myanmar. Of course, it’s not that people in Mae Sai or anywhere else which features racial discrimination are uniquely bad people. On the contrary, you find racial discrimination all around the world in basically the same form. What unifies this experience is that poverty and competition for resources in general often lie at the heart of the conflicts which create and provoke racial discrimination.
Mae Sai is home to HDS, where we’re fortunate to have children from within the town and from across the border in Tachilek coming to study with us. Apart from our Burmese daughters and sons, our Thai students also come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, such as Thai Yai, Shan, and Akha. Being such a melting pot, you might expect divisions between students to arise and cause problems at centers such as the HDS. But at DEPDC/GMS we’re all one family, and discrimination like that doesn’t exist within our walls. Though of course the kids do find other things to disagree about!
For their wider communities, however, the walls of HDS alone aren’t enough to eliminate the discrimination which many of them have faced and will face throughout their lives. The key to addressing this, we think, is building economic stability in order to reduce conflicts and facilitate solidarity between people and groups. To do this, we at DEPDC/GMS focus on education and life skills training to provide children with the ability to live stable, independent, self-sufficient lives. In doing this, the next generation can lead the way in improving and developing their communities from the inside out, slowly but surely building towards a better, happier, less discriminatory future.
It’s not an easy job, and it takes commitment to gradual improvement and change. But there are no quick fixes for problems such as these, and we feel that with a deep commitment to our program, our daughters and sons can lead the way in creating a brighter future in which discrimination is a shadow of its former self – and rightly so!
If you’d like to help us realize this goal, 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. Thank you for reading and we wish you all the best.