The Development and Education Programme for Daughters and Communities Centre in the Greater Mekong Subregion (DEPDC/GMS) is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation based in Chiang Rai Province, Northern Thailand. The community-based organisation has a diverse 25-year history and currently works primarily to prevent and to protect children and youth from being trafficked into exploitative labour conditions.
The organization’s projects provide crucial preventative measures of education, vocational and life-skills training, protection and accommodation, family and community outreach services, and leadership development to at-risk children and youth in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.
The Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) is comprised of the six countries through which the Mekong River flows: Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Guangxi and Yunnan Provinces in Southern China. Human trafficking in Northern Thailand is prevalent due to numerous populations of minority ethnic groups, many of which lack Thai citizenship. Historically, these people have suffered extreme poverty, because they lack access to formal education and health care and they have little political power. As a result, many are marginalized and are compelled to seek financial alternatives in order to survive.
Many families therefore resort to selling their children into exploitative labour conditions, frequently with the promise that their children are going to work in a decent, safe workplace. Thailand is a country of origin, transit, and destination for trafficking victims, and with the near future opening of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community in 2015, the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) will inevitably remain a major hub for the trafficking of children.
Because the human trafficking process is far reaching and its causes are deep, our mission aims to help the most at-risk children, and their families and communities, in order to decrease the conditions and factors that make them vulnerable to trafficking. The organisation operates a range of projects which facilitate this mission at three distinct sites, strategically located within Thailand’s northern most province of Chiang Rai, in the districts of Mae Sai, Mae Chan, and Chiang Khong. Each project site functions differently, but all work toward the common goal of reducing the psycho-social risks and dangerous conditions which leave children and youth vulnerable to trafficking in the region.
Watch a short introductory video to learn more about how our organisation was founded and what we have been doing since 1989.