Author Archives: DEPDC/GMS

Tai Yai language lessons at HDS

The newest development at DEPDC’s Half Day School (HDS) is Tai Yai language lessons on Friday afternoons. Thanks to the new cooperation between DEPDC and the Tai Origin Network (TON) HDS can now offer regular Tai Yai language classes on two different levels every week.

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Teacher Nogyungkham teaching the beginners class

This school year children from seven different ethnic group visit HDS. This are Tai Yai, Tai Lue, Akha, Tai Khün, Burmese, Thai, and Lawa. Currently the biggest group at our school are students from the Tai Yai group. They make up for nearly 50% of our current students.

The Tai Yai, in Myanmar often called Shan, are the biggest ethnic group in Myanmar’s Shan State and many refugees and labor migrants along the Thai side of the border belong to this ethnic group as well. Tai Yai people have their own language and script and as language is an important part of ones culture and origin there are increasing efforts to promote the language in all situations of live.

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Teacher Kaysaeng teaching the advanced class

Tai Khün and Tai Lue language are closely related to Tai Yai language and together this three groups stand for more than ⅔ of HDS current students. For this reason we were very happy when two teachers from TON offered to come to visit HDS ever Friday afternoon to teach Tai Yai language to our students. This classes include spoken and written language. DEPDC believes that literacy in the students own language is a valuable addition to literacy in Thai and some cases Burmese language.

Meet an International Volunteer: Linn!

The International Department would like to introduce Linn, who joined us in the beginning of August. Linn has been teaching in Norway for seven years after completing six years of Teacher Education in Oslo and Trondheim, Norway. In addition, she spent one of her years studying in Southern Thailand. She will be working at the center in Mae Chan, mainly at the Swimming Home. Since arriving at the Swimming Home in Mae Chan, Linn has been working on researching potential funders, networking, reading up on DEPDC’s work and updating social media accounts for the Swimming home and teaching English to the children at the shelter. She looks forward to get to know the children better and to learn more about the Greater Mekong Sub-region and the issue of trafficking in the region.

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“During my time as a teacher in Norway, I have been blessed with leaders that encouraged me to evolve all the time. I love being a teacher, but what I love the most about it, is the social aspect. I love being there for the children, to see them grow both at school and personally. However, during my last year as a teacher in Norway, I realized that I needed bigger and different challenges”.

“While living in Thailand recently, I became more aware of the different aspects of human trafficking in the country. During this period, I read up on the subject, and I realized quickly that I truly wanted to contribute and work for an anti-human trafficking organization. Since I already know a lot about the Thai culture and have a connection to the country through friends and interests, I started checking out NGOs in Thailand. I came across DEPDC/GMS and read everything I could find online about the organization. Knowing that it was a well established NGO working to prevent human trafficking and to protect victims of human trafficking, I decided to apply as a volunteer”.

“Through working for DEPDC/GMS, I hope to gain more knowledge and understanding of the work that is done to prevent human trafficking and to protect victims of human trafficking. I hope that I can contribute to the organization through my teaching skills, administrative skills, interpersonal skills and intercultural skills”.

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If you would like to find out more about volunteering with the Development and Education Programme for Daughters and Communities Centre in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (DEPDC/GMS), please see the information within the main VOLUNTEER tab and on the drop-down Opportunity tabs.

Visit from GlobalGiving #GivingSummer

This week we have had two lovely visitors all the way from the UK with us here in Mae Sai as well as at the Swimming Home in Mae Chan! Tapiwa and Alice, volunteers from GlobalGiving UK came to meet with our directors and volunteers, have a look at how we run our organization and give us a few pointers on how we could utilize our time and resources to the fullest, as well as working with us to help expand our supporters and donors through global giving.

Global Giving volunteers, Alice and Tapiwa, giving their presentation to DEPDC

Global Giving volunteers, Alice and Tapiwa, giving their presentation to DEPDC

The girls came as part of Global Giving’s ‘giving summer’, a programme where trained volunteers travel to organizations supported by global giving, do a short evaluation and provide information and tools to expand support and donations from the UK.

If you would like to learn more about our projects or to donate and support our efforts here at DEPDC, please click here to donate to our Community Learning Centre, here to donate to our Half Day School in Mae Sai, here to donate to our Swimming Home and Shelter in Mae Chan or here to donate to our lunch programme at Half Day School.

We greatly appreciate all donations to DEPDC, large or small, everything makes a difference.

International Student Volunteers at Mae Sai!

We have been very busy for the past few weeks so thankfully we have had a few groups of International Student Volunteers, or ISV here to help us. For the past two weeks, we have had our fourth group of ISV working with us here in Mae Sai but sadly we say goodbye to them today before they go off on their exciting adventure tour, and we look forward to the arrival of our next group, next month.

The kids say goodbye to ISV

The kids say goodbye to ISV

Since mid-May, we have had groups of ISV, who come in groups of about 15, mainly from Canada and America, and have stayed with us for two weeks at a time, working on building a wall, helping with cooking for the students, making crafts with, and teaching English to our students. While they are here, these volunteers contribute to the much needed maintenance and up keep of DEPDC, as well as providing help and support for the teachers, with the children. Having these volunteers is great for the staff of DEPDC, as it gives us extra staffing, and therefore a greater ability to provide the children with what they need, and give the children, the opportunity for different experiences and creative outlets.

Creative english classes with ISV!

Creative english classes with ISV!

During their time here, some of the groups like to make some traditional ‘American food’ for the kids, our second group found out that one of the iconic staples in an American child’s lunch box ‘PB&J sandwiches’, weren’t quite such a hit with our Thai kids, and the next group found out that their cheesy favorite ‘mac and cheese’, that even the fussiest of children in the States seem to enjoy, doesn’t go down quite so well over here. Our children were quite comical in their efforts to hide their dislike! Watching their reactions was incredibly amusing, and everybody appeared to enjoy the popcorn! This weeks ‘hash browns’ and ‘french toast’ was quite successful and went down a treat with most of the kids!

Student attempting to hide their dislike of the ISV's 'mac & cheese'!

Student attempting to hide their dislike of the ISV’s ‘mac & cheese’!

Harry Feldman, from Georgia Tech in America, has spent the past two weeks with us, very enthusiastically teaching and playing with the kids who have very clearly loved having him here!

‘I had so much fun at DEPDC. We played games with the kids, cooked Thai food, and helped finish a wall around the school. The best part was definitely teaching and playing with the kids.  It was very rewarding seeing them progress through the numbers. They started with 1,2, and 3, but by the end of the day we had them counting to 10. Seeing their faces light up with joy while playing with us was amazing! I will always remember my experiences at DEPDC!’

Harry playing footballs with some of our HDS pro-footballers

Harry playing footballs with some of our HDS pro-footballers

A rice field for education and food supply!

This year DEPDC decided to become more self-sustaining in food supply for our Half Day School’s (HDS) lunch program by extending DEPDC’s agricultural site with rice fields! The fields cover about 1¼ Rai (1Rai≙1600m²) and we hope that we can harvest at least 750kg of rice by Mid October!

Preparing the field for sowing.

Preparing the field for sowing.

The first step in order to prepare the rice field was done by a local framer that DEPDC hired. He used his tractor and equipment to break up the field that was an unused patch of land. To do this as well as form the mound encircling the fields took nearly one day and would not have been possible without the help of the tractor.

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After the fields were shaped, the wait for the rainy season began. As the first rain was severely delayed this year, DEPDC started to pump water from a nearby stream into the fields. The flooding of the fields took a long time and could only be finished after the rainy season finally started.

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When the fields were sufficiently flooded, they were ploughed and a small part of one field was made level to serve as a sowing area. The first rice plants sprouted after a few days, and after only one week, the whole field is now covered with bright green, young rice plants. These rice plants will continue to grow in the small separate field for another three weeks and then be replanted to the bigger main fields in order to gain a bigger crop.

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Growing our own rice will not only help to supply DEPDC’s lunch program with rice according to organic farming standards, but also gives the children at HDS a chance to gain firsthand experience in rice farming and agricultural systems.

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Wai Khru Ceremony at DEPDC’s Half Day School

On 11th of June, DEPDC’s Half Day School (HDS) celebrated this years Wai Khru Ceremony. This ceremony gives the students the opportunity to show gratitude to their teachers and to apologize for misbehavior.

Offering of flowers, candles, and joss sticks to HDS's teachers.

Offering of flowers, candles, and joss sticks to HDS’s teachers.

The Wai Khru Ceremony is normally held on a Thursday, shortly after the beginning of a new school year and is meant to establish a formal relationship between students and teachers. Today’s ceremony originates from old Indian and animistic traditions and has chiliads old history.

The modern form of the Wai Khru Ceremony was first introduces at Triam Udom Suksa School (Bangkok) in 1941 and since than has spread all over Thailand. Today the ceremony is held at nearly all schools in the country once a year.

HDS also celebrates this ceremony once a year. The actual ceremony is held during the morning and in the afternoon HDS’s students sing on stage and perform short plays that they write themselves. The main difference between the way HDS performs the ceremony and the mainstream way is that, unlike from other schools all students will have a chance to pay homage and respect to the teachers and not only some representatives. That also gives every student a chance to apologize to their teachers for misbehavior.

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The ceremony starts by paying respect to Buddha by lighting candles and joss sticks. The students then sing the song Phra Khun Ti Sam (The Third Caregiver). After the song is finished, one of the teachers gives a short speech giving advice and blessing to the students. After that the ceremony itself begins and all students in small groups will come to the teachers and present flowers, candles, and joss sticks. After this, the students receive the teachers blessings and the ceremony is over.

After a lunch break HDS’s students present short self written plays and singing during the afternoon.

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Field trip to the ‘Chiang Rai Hilltribes Development and Welfare Centre’ and the ‘Naam Kham Valley Development Foundation’

Between 15th of May and 13th of June, DEPDC, in cooperation with Alliance Anti-Trafic (ATT) have organized a workshop called ‘Training Program for Social Workers for at-risk Women and Children from The Shan State’.

Director Teerawat Pitakpraisri of 'Naam Kham Valley Development Foundation' giving us a tour around the foundation's model farm.

Director Teerawat Pitakpraisri of ‘Naam Kham Valley Development Foundation’ giving us a tour around the foundation’s model farm.

This workshop has 11 participants coming from The Shan State in Myanmar. All of them belong to the Myanmarese ethnic minority of Shan (also known as Tai Yai). This ethnic group represents the majority in The Shan State, but still struggles with poverty, discrimination, statelessness, and irregular flare up of fighting after decades of civil war. ATT and DEPDC have organized this workshop to provide the necessary skills to young local leaders from various backgrounds to help and protect their local communities.

On 4th of June, the whole group went on a field trip to the ‘Chiang Rai Hilltribes Development and Welfare Centre’ where they got an introduction into the cultural anthropology of the Thai-Myanmarese border areas. They learned about the different ethnic groups and their different ways of making a living.

The typical black pigs bred by Akha.

The typical black pigs bred by Akha.

In the afternoon, the workshop spent a visit to the ‘Naam Kham Valley Development Foundation’ in Baan Saen Suk. This foundation focuses on community development of Baan Saen Suk and the other Akha communities of the area. One of the main fields of their work is agricultural education, to teach the beneficiaries how to maximize the output in a sustainable way, limiting artificial manure and pesticides. The most important areas are pig and fish breeding and the production of corn and vegetables.

Floating fish tanks in a small lake at the model farm.

Floating fish tanks in a small lake at the model farm.

DEPDC would like to thank both organizations for their kind invitations and for their interesting presentations. DEPDC’s staff and the participants of the workshop had the possibility to learn a lot about the organizations work and the region.

International Missing Children’s Day – 25th May 2015

The forget-me-not flower has become the symbol for International Missing Children’s day

The forget-me-not flower has become the symbol for International Missing Children’s day

Today, May 25th marks International Missing Children’s day.

May 25th has marked Missing Children’s Day in the US since 1983, when President Ronald Reagan established the day following the 1979 disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz in New York City in 1979. In 2002, it became a day of commemoration worldwide. Fittingly, the forget-me-not flower has become the symbol for International Missing Children’s day, as a reminder of the approximately 8 million children who go missing every single year.

A huge problem in Thailand that hinders the safe return of missing children is lack of reporting. The low numbers of children officially reported to be missing, does not truly reflect the numbers of children who go missing every year, this allows abductors and child traffickers to go under the radar for long enough that they get away with the abduction, greatly reducing the likelihood of children returning home safely. An average of approximately 2 children are reported missing in Thailand every day, and between 300 and 500 every year and unfortunately only approximately 80% of these children who have been reported missing, are found and safely returned home.

Here at DEPDC we do everything in our power to ensure the safety and welfare of our children.

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