New Project Brings New Hope

New Project Brings New Hope

Two thousand eighteen has only just begun and already it is proving to be a year full of hope and promise. We are excited to share that DEPDC/GMS’s new project, Shan Youth Safety Training to End Risk Migration (SYSTERM) will officially commence this Saturday, January 20th with 55 bright beings arriving at our headquarters in Mae Sai District, Chiang Rai, Thailand.

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The Development and Education Program for Daughters and Communities Centre in the Greater Mekong Subregion (DEDPC/GMS) is a non-profit organization working towards the prevention of human trafficking and exploitation of at-risk youth and women. DEPDC/GMS is strongly committed to affecting change through protection, education, awareness, life-skills training, and empowerment. Over the course of 28 years, DEPDC has served over 7,000 of the most vulnerable women and children in this region. Through DEPDC’s time tested approach, that has proven to be successful, we continue to strive to broaden and expand our outreach. SYSTERM is one more step in increasing protection and services for at-risk women and children.

Regional migration is increasing and migration trends and policies have created a dangerous environment for thousands, particularly for stateless women and children. Human traffickers have created hubs along the Thai-Myanmar border and within the GMS in order to prey upon those most vulnerable. Awareness of the gravity of this issue ignited the development of SYSTERM. DEDPC/GMS’s founder, Sompop Jantraka, and team members realized that action was needed and that the time to act is now.

This last November, DEPDC/GMS organized an introduction and open discussion forum around the SYSTERM project. There were several dozen people present from likeminded organizations and universities all across Thailand, as well as several who travelled internationally in order to attend. These passionate, driven people arrived with the aspiration to contribute their professional experience and/or human resources to the development of SYSTERM. DEPDC/GMS was honoured and encouraged. Their attendance and desire to help is testimony to the importance of this project.

The goal of SYSTERM is to provide 100 at-risk, stateless migrants with intensive leadership training with a focus on safe migration. The project will support the willing youth to build self-help projects in their country of origin in either independent groups or with the support of carefully-selected host organisations. The project will be broken into two separate six month periods, training a group of around 50 youth participants during each period. It is our hope that this grassroots project in conjunction with a specialised curriculum taught by experienced professionals will organise, prepare, and build the next generation of anti-human trafficking leaders and organisations.

Projects like SYSTERM are made possible because of our donors. Donations to support the second group of 50 willing youth are still needed as the project is only half funded. Your donations bring these projects to life and provide never before had opportunities for at-risk youth to learn vital skills that affect change more than we can imagine.

Supporting SYSTERM supports a global impact and change to end human trafficking. The ripple effects of your generosity give hope for a brighter future. A future that shifts the paradigm that leads to human trafficking. A future that embraces equality, rights, and empowerment. To say thank you hardly feels fitting. From all of the staff, volunteers, and students of HDS and SYSTERM, we offer our most sincere gratitude. Here’s to a great year! We look forward to sharing more with all of you as the year continues.

Here are some ways you can support the Shan Youth Safety Training to End Risk Migration (SYSTERM).

Donate or Fundraise

Volunteer

Spread the Word

LinkedIn:    www.linkedin.com/in/volunteer-depdc
Facebook:    www.facebook.com/depdc.gms
Blog:    www.depdcblog.wordpress.com
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Children’s Day Celebration at the Half Day School!

Children’s Day Celebration at the Half Day School!

The Patak Half Day School students were showered with love today! Tomorrow, January 13th, is Thailand’s National Children’s Day. DEPDC/GMS celebrated early in order to show how grateful we are for our students before the start of the weekend. For financial reasons, the school children are unable to partake in the joy of receiving a gift for other yearly holidays, such as birthdays, Christmas, and New Year’s. Therefore, DEPDC/GMS makes it our mission to make Children’s Day as special as it can be.

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The Patak Half Day School was full of happy faces and laugher today. HDS students, their siblings, and several local community children joined together for a day of fun games and delicious treats.

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Additionally, we were honoured to receive several SYSTERM participants, who will begin the Shan Youth Safety Training to End Risk Migration (SYSTERM) program next week here in Mae Sai at the DEPDC/GMS Headquarters. If you would like to learn more about this program, please visit our Global Giving project page.

The day’s activities included an egg and chopsticks race, balloon blowing competition, fishing for prizes, dispersal of classroom supplies, and a game of football/soccer. The final event was a gift exchange. All the children and DEPDC team members exchanged one unique present by drawing numbers at random. Some of the gifts included stuffed animals, warm blankets, and boxes of chocolate.

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DEPDC/GMS would like to offer a special thanks to the local men and women who joined us for our Children’s Day Celebration and helped make it a brighter day for all the students. A representative of Mae Sai’s TESCO donated rice for the HDS children and SYSTERM participants and multiple food dishes were donated by individuals from the community. In addition to hot and healthy meals, cupcakes, crepes, and brownies were also donated on this joyous day. Moreover, the students were excited to have a new group of young men to play a game of football with them.

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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. This 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.

Learn more about DEPDC/GMS and how you can get involved on our blog!

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DEPDC/GMS: Growing a Healthy Future for Today’s Youth

DEPDC/GMS: Growing a Healthy Future for Today’s Youth

As some of you may know, DEPDC/GMS’s Patak Half Day School partakes in several projects year round to support the school’s lunch program by increasing it’s self-sustainability…and by making it more nutritious.

These projects include harvesting rice and growing a small organic vegetable, mushroom, and herb farm right on the school grounds. Growing rice and fresh vegetables does not only encourage the students to eat healthy foods, but it also teaches important agricultural techniques so that they may be able to grow their own food independently in adulthood.

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Cabbage Growing in the Half Day School Garden

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The rice harvest for 2017 was completed in mid-December. Though quite unusual for this cool season, it has been raining nearly every day the last several weeks. Thus, we are hopeful for a more prosperous rice harvest in the fall of 2018.

New vegetables were planted throughout the months of November and December, including organic cabbage, peppers, corn, taro, tomatoes, and a variety of herbs commonly used in Northern Thai cooking.

In addition to planting new vegetables, the HDS prepared its fungus farm! After the rice was dried and thrashed, the rice straw was used to create a small mushroom garden.

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Rice Straw Mushroom Farm

How can you get involved?

Fundraising Events

If you are closely associated with a primary, middle, or high school, you, your students and/or your child can start a school fundraiser. For just 30 dollars (USD), you can help supply a nutritious mid-day meal for up to 60 at-risk children. Even small donations can help support the purchase of seeds, organic pesticide, and gardening utensils to increase the Patak Half Day School’s self-sustainability.

Volunteering

Do you have a green thumb? Come volunteer with DEPDC/GMS’s Half Day School and help us improve our humble garden. Find out more information about volunteering here!

Spread the Word

Spread the word about the Patak Half Day School and our mission here at DEPDC/GMS to your community by following, liking, or sharing us on your favorite social media platform!

LinkedIn

Facebook

Instagram

 

 

Mekong Regional Indigenous Child Rights Home: An Update on DEPDC/GMS’s Safe Shelter

Mekong Regional Indigenous Child Rights Home: An Update on DEPDC/GMS’s Safe Shelter

Mekong Regional Indigenous Child Rights Home (MRICRH) in Mae Chan remains open and continues to provide a safe home for high-risk children and women in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) of Northern Thailand.

Our safe shelter currently provides a home to five persons, four children and one young woman. Three of the children attend a nearby school and are provided tuition support, transportation to and from school each day, and academic support as needed. These three students completed school examinations in late September and then went on school break for the month of October.

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During the month of October, the children participated in basic life skills training led by the oldest member of the home and shelter guardians. Activities included typical everyday tasks, such as cleaning the home together, learning to wash and iron their own clothing, agricultural activities, and learning how to swim in the Swimming Home’s pool.

The school reopened for the new semester on November 6, 2017. All of the members of the shelter received new clothing, thus the three school children were able to return to class with new, clean and warm clothing…just in time for the cooler weather.

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Safe Shelter members hugging recently donated clothing

I want to thank all those reading our update. Please keep DEPDC/GMS in mind during this holiday season. I want to offer a special thank you to the past and future donors of MRICRH. Your donations have helped this shelter provide room and board, basic necessities, medical care, scholarships to attend local government schools, school supplies, transportation, and vocational training for at-risk, vulnerable children and women.

I kindly ask that you continue your generous support, as the shelter remains open and operates strictly through donation support. Additionally, I welcome you to come visit and even consider volunteering if possible. I invite you to come take a look at the impact that even small monthly donations of 10 to 20 dollars to DEPDC/GMS can make…and to enjoy seeing the smiles that you have made possible!

On behalf of DEPDC/GMS founder, all the staff members, volunteers, and especially our children, I would like to wish you a happy holiday season and a very merry Christmas!

Donate to MRICRH Safe Shelter here!

Visit our webpage and learn more about the mission of DEPDC/GMS here!

Apply to volunteer with DEPDC/GMS here!

 

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Sharing some laughter before heading to school

 

 

 

 

Rice Harvesting with the Patak Half Day School

Rice Harvesting with the Patak Half Day School

At the end of November, DEPDC/GMS’s Half Day School in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, Thailand began harvesting its small but healthy rice field. After the reaping was completed, the school children waited the next two weeks for the rice to dry. This is called “field drying”. This last week, the children learned about the “threshing” stage of rice harvesting. This stage consists of beating stacks of rice to separate the paddy grain from the rest of cut crop. The two oldest groups of children were able to participate in this activity, while the others had the opportunity to watch and learn for later years. Needless to say, it was a fun few days of “learning-by-doing”!

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Stacking the cut rice before threshing

Rice

What’s next? After cleaning, the children get to eat the rice they grew entirely on their own. What could taste more delicious than a simple bowl of rice produced with your own hands and newly acquired knowledge learned together with your classmates and friends!

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Three piles of threshed rice near one small tarp full of grain ready to be cleaned and cooked

Background on why the Patak Half Day School grows its own rice:

The rice harvesting project, completed once per year, was initiated for two primary reasons. First, growing the rice is to increase the self-sustainability of the school and teach the children about the importance of self-sustainability in their own lives. Second, the project helps improve the children’s understanding of traditional farming techniques and the culture of this region. For this reason, no machinery is used other than hands and a simple rice sickle. It is kept just large enough for all the children to be able to take part but small enough to keep the workload minimal, as learning is the main focus of this activity. Finally, the rice field is located on school grounds, which allows the children to watch the rice grow all throughout its life cycle.

Want to help keep this project running? You can help by donating to the “Half Day School’s Lunch Program” on Global Giving, link found here!

Additionally, please, do not hesitate to contact the International department (depdc.gms@gmail.com) if you would like to learn more about DEPDC/GMS or if you have been looking for the right organization to volunteer with. We love hosting visitors, volunteers, and interns, and greatly appreciate any interest in fighting human trafficking of at-risk, vulnerable youth and children.

As always, thank you for your time and happy holidays!

 

 

Sandalwood Flowers in Honor of King Bhumibol

Sandalwood Flowers in Honor of King Bhumibol

The Royal Cremation Ceremony for King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IV) took place on October 26th, 2017. Millions across Thailand offered traditional sandalwood flowers in homage to their late king.

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Students from DEPDC/GMS, with a little help from their teachers and families, hand-made a total of 739 sandalwood flowers to be used in the Dok Mai Chan (sandalwood) flower-laying ceremony.

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Traditional sandalwood flowers can be made in seven unique variations with each signifying a different set of values. The Dararat flower was chosen by DEPDC/GMS, as this signifies unconditional love, honor, hope, and courage. The name of the flower comes from the Thai word “dara” meaning “star” and “rat” meaning “of jewels”.

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Furthermore, the use of the Half Day School’s bus and truck were donated on the day of the Royal Cremation Ceremony. Typically the school’s transportation is dedicated entirely to the students of DEPDC/GMS; however, the month of October was an important time for all of Thailand and many others across the world. As the school was closed and the children on break, DEPDC/GMS was honored to be able to provide transportation to the community to access the ceremony free of charge.

 

 

SIM Democracy’s educational workshop was a success at DEPDC/GMS! The children had a blast AND learned about what it means to be both a leader and a citizen in a democratic society. During a time when most schools are taking a short break after exams, the students here at DEPDC/GMS continue to learn and grow!

If you are unfamiliar with SIM Democracy, here is a little bit of background information. SIM Democracy is an educational board game designed to simulate a democratic society. This teaches children and young adults about how a democratic system works in a fun and creative way while encouraging problem solving skills and collaboration.

Want to learn more about SIM Democracy? Follow this link!

Shortly after arriving to school, the students gathered on the floor in the main auditorium. The team at SIM Democracy began by introducing the main elements of a democratic society in a meaningful way to the students. This involved an interactive learning approach which included encouraging the students to discuss what they already know and to think about questions they would like to have answered. As always, DEPDC/GMS provided a safe learning environment for students to ask questions and expand their knowledge in an open and friendly atmosphere.

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The students were then divided into small groups. Each group was provided step-by-step directions on how to play the game by a SIM Democracy team leader. Team leaders remained with the student groups throughout the game, providing guidance and asking thoughtful questions to enhance the children’s learning experience and encourage problem solving. The children had the opportunity to elect a leader to their country, play a variety of leadership and citizen roles, and allocate funding into four sectors: education, public health, environment, and security.

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After about an hour of playing SIM Democracy, the student groups rejoined each other to discuss what they had learned from their decisions. Students talked about what choices resulted in positive changes within their community and, in contrast, what choices resulted in decreased funding for education and health care, limited economic growth, and/or increased poverty.

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On behalf of all the students, parents, staff, and founder of DEPDC/GMS, I would like to say thank you to the all the team members who brought SIM Democracy to our school. Thank you for such a wonderful learning experience! It would be our pleasure to welcome your return to DEPDC/GMS!

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A busy few weeks

It has been a busy last few weeks. We had a group of CIS Abroad of 19 students from the United States and 1 from Canada. They helped with teaching, playing and cleaning with the children. Together with the two professors of their University and our staff we put a lot of effort in cleaning a part of our Mae Sai grounds. We were very thankful for all their hard work and wish them all the best in continuation of their travels around Thailand and Cambodia where they learn about all the steps of the human trafficking, so they can in turn make a difference. There was also some fun, as on their day of they went to several tea plantations in the mountains that are run by ethnic minorities. Besides this they also got a brief bamboo flute instruction from our founder.

Another interesting moment came a few days ago, when it was the Thai day of the teachers. During this day the children sang songs and made symbolic offerings of flowers and incense to the staff of DEPDC in the morning. It went on with the teachers thanking the children in their turn with kind personal words for all the students. 1497253409044

But that’s not all; we were also presented with a large donation from Xin Yuan Trading Company (Thailand) Limited Chiang Saen, Chiang Rai. Who donated toothpaste, toothbrushes, school supplies and food for the children.  For which we are very grateful of course and so are the students. Xin Yuan Trading Company

And a quick final note: We are in need of new volunteers, our current volunteer is leaving in a few weeks and we haven’t got a lot of serious applications. If you know anyone willing to volunteer at this organization for 6 months, without having to pay all kinds of fees (what is a strange, but common practice at a lot of NGO’s). The only thing you need to pay for is your costs to get here and your food during your time here. Working here can

New shoes and a different parking place

 

Thanks to the kindness of former international student volunteers of DEPDC from the United States, we were able to purchase rubber shoes for all the children. This is a bare necessity that can not always be met by the parents of these vulnerable children. Walking around on flip-flops or barefoot is customary for them, however with the coming of the rainy season the need for shoes was made clear. As you can see in the picture above, the children are very thankful and are showing off the different colors.

IMG_20170530_120751Thanks to your great donations in the past the school bus is still driving and is able to pick up the children from remote areas to go to school. The bus gets regular check-ups to ensure that he will keep driving for many years to come. The bus isn’t currently parked at the school, as the bridge over a nearby stream is currently under construction. Now the bus is parked next to a police post a bit further from school, to make sure it will stay safe now it’s not at the school grounds for the moment. The progress of the bridge building goes slow but steadily. The bridge was previously a wide pipe that allowed the water to go through, however with the rainy season in the past it was never big enough. Currently they are using reinforced concrete pillars and walls to ensure that there is a wide and steady bridge that allows the water to go through. We are looking forward to using the bridge and drive our children safely over it again. We would like to thank you all for your donations that made it possible to use this school bus!

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