Exams, end of term 2016/2017 working through the vacation and a call for volunteers

Exams and then on Thursday the 16th of March it was finally there again… the 2016/2017 school year at DEPDC’s Half Day School (HDS) has ended and our students began their holidays that will last until 15th of May. The teachers and administrative staff are wishing our students a happy holiday!

In the week preceding the vacation it was naturally time for their exams. They had exams in the main subjects and sometimes with surprising results. There were a few that really stood out amongst the rest, others showed the points were we as teachers could focus on in the next period. And then on Thursday they had a day of helping to clean the school terrain and have a little fun. There was shaved ice as a treat, of which some children went for a second, third and even a fourth portion. And we gave presents and gifts to our children for celebrating their achievements what they have done during this semester. IMG_1619

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IMG_1622And now the HDS is closed for the summer period. But seeing that a lot of children’s parents are still working, DEPC/GMS helps to relieve strain on the families by providing two weeks of extra classes in English and Mathematics. This is popular not only amongst our students, but also amongst those from other schools. 30 children are following these classes, which focuses more on the fun and joy of English and math.

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Even though the HDS is closed, DEPDC still functions as a community learning center and gives private English lessons to 2 high school students and 20 elementary school students. Besides this, there is a business focused English classes for an adult, who goes from Myanmar to Thailand 3 days a week specifically for these classes.

Swimming training and music activities will be done during the first week of April. Not only for the children of DEPC, but with other colleague organizations in the province. So you can see that despite the school year ending, we still stepping up and work towards a brighter future.

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But all this work cannot be done without our dedicated staff and volunteers. And a new school year also means that we are in need of new volunteers. Are you, or do you know a person that would like to dedicate their time and love in this great work into stopping human trafficking through education, please contact us and fill out our form at: https://depdcblog.wordpress.com/volunteer/mae-sai/

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GlobalGiving Matching Campaign 16th September 2015

On 16th September 2015 GlobalGiving runs its final matching campaign this year. Beginning at 9am EDT (8pm ICT Bangkok; 3pm CEST Western Europe; 2pm BST British Isles) GlobalGiving will start to match all donations by 30% and up to 1000$ per individual donor per organization.

DEPDC/GMS + GlobalGiving

The campaign will run either until 16th of September 2015, 23:59:59 EDT, or until the total amount of $70,000 in matching funds has been distributed.

If you have been thinking about making a donation to DEPDC before, 16th September 2015 would be a good time to make your donation and use the chance of GlobalGiving’s matching campaign to increase the impact of your donation.

At the moment DEPDC has five projects live on GlobalGiving that can receive donations (to visit the project’s description at GlobalGiving’s website click the pictures):

Send 70 At-risk Children to School in Thailand:

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Safe Shelter for 16 Children and Woman in Thailand:

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Irrigation system for our School’s rice fields:

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Literacy Training for an Ethnic Minority Community:

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Help To Provide Lunch For Half Day School Students:

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For more information about GlobalGiving’s matching campaign and policy please visit GlobalGiving’s website.

Finally all children, students, staff, and volunteers from DEPDC would like to thank all former, current, and future donors, whose kind donations made DEPDC’s work possible. Thank you so much!!!

Meet an International Volunteer: James!

The International Department would like to introduce James. He joins us along with Caoimhe, in April from Cork, Ireland. Like Caoimhe, James is also here serving his university placement. They share the same course, International Development and Food Policy. Since his arrival, James has been involved in grant searching, report writing and will be teaching when the new term starts.

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With the University course that I had chosen, it has already opened my eyes to issues that surround us at all times however having arrived here I am glad to be given the opportunity to dig even deeper into the rights issues and violations. I grew up in Saudi Arabia, living there for the best part of 15 years, before moving to Ireland to finish off my schooling. Thanks to this, human rights have always surrounded me as it can be considered a major issue in Saudi Arabia. I had travelled to Thailand several times before with my family and to be able to come back leave a positive mark on the place I came to respect was an opportunity I wanted to grasp. It has been a great experience coming to learn what the northern side of Thailand is like.

Thus far I have had a great time, getting to know my co-workers and witnessing the hard work that goes into the everyday mission here in Mae Sai. The challenge of learning Thai and adapting to the everyday norms here has been thoroughly enjoyable and I look forward to my time ahead here.

Meet an International Volunteer: Caoimhe!

The International Department would like to introduce Caoimhe, who joined the department in April. Caoimhe spent a year studying International Aid and Development at Ballsbridge College in Dublin, before moving to Cork, where she is currently a student of International Development and Food Policy, at University College Cork, in Ireland. She will be working with the international department at the center in Mae Sai for the next few months. Since arriving at DEPDC, Caoimhe has been working on researching potential funders and working on reports for donors as well as updating social media accounts. She looks forward to meeting the students when they are back at school in May, and is excited to see what she can do to further the work of DEPDC as well as what she can learn from working here.

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My university course gives the incredible opportunity to spend 5 months working with a non-profit organization in an area of interest to us, to put in practice the skills that we have been taught over the past three years, and encourages us to spend this time abroad in a part of the world that interests us.

Growing up with a mother who has a very strong sense of awareness of human rights issues and violations, human trafficking and modern day slavery is an issue that I have been aware of and has interested me for quite a long time. I decided that Thailand would be an interesting place for me to start because it was a part of the world where I had no experience and very little knowledge of, before coming across the work of DEPDC.

I have always enjoyed working with children, when I was in school I taught music to small groups of young children and always enjoyed it. When I read about the DEPDC, I really liked the mission and the approach that the organization takes, and I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to learn more about Northern Thailand and surrounding areas and to learn more about the problems surrounding human trafficking and modern day slavery, while beginning working with an organization that has lots of experience in tackling such huge problems.

Since arriving, I have experienced only kindness from the incredibly welcoming and helpful staff here at the center in Mae Sai, and have seen how incredibly hardworking and dedicated, not only my new coworkers are, but everybody who I have encountered here since I arrived.

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I’m really enjoying learning more about the organization and the work that has been done and continues to be done as well as the culture of Northern Thailand, and I am looking forward to the students coming back to school, and spending time working with, and getting to know them.

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.

International Literacy Day

Since 1966, members of the United Nations Education, Science, and Culture Organization (UNESCO) have celebrated International Literacy Day on the 8th of September.  In Thailand, the 8th of September is referred to as Non-Formal Education Day. On this day, public and private agencies organize a variety of activities to promote the benefits of learning and to underline the importance of literacy and life-long learning.


According to the World Bank, Thailand is classified as an upper-middle-income country, which is defined as a country with a Gross National Income per capita between $4,125 and $12,746.  The country has achieved an overall adult literacy rate of 93.5% (2005 census) and a primary school net enrollment rate of 89.7%.  These are similar to the average rates for countries with a comparable economic status. However, literacy skills and educational opportunities are still not distributed equally in Thailand.

Ethnic minority groups in Thailand often struggle to receive adequate education and, particularly in combination with statelessness and severe poverty, these children typically lack opportunities to enter and/or to stay in school. Until the late 1950s, school education in Northern Thailand was offered only in the river basins. There were no schools available in the mountainous regions where most ethnic minority peoples inhabit. During that time, the Border Patrol Police opened the first schools, thereafter offering education for people living in remote areas.  In the beginning, these projects had to struggle with a great deal of problems – severe lack of qualified teachers, a lack of funding, and a curriculum only appropriate for Thai government schools, not for these non-formal schools that served minority children.

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Nearly all of our Half Day School students come from this region’s many ethnic minority populations

Throughout the late 1970s, the Hill Area Education Project (HAEP) organized the implementation of education and schooling to cover nearly all remote mountainous areas in northern Thailand.  This was with cooperation and aid of Thailand’s Department of Public Welfare and the Department of Non-Formal Education.  The Project offered at least 6 years of basic education for children and vocational training for adults. In 2000, this policy included 648 villages, where 1,236 teachers taught approximately 97,000 persons. The Project improved the education level of the ethnic minorities in northern Thailand and along the Myanmar border for the first time.  Watch a short video about one Hill Area Education Project school located in Mae Hong Son Province, along the Thai-Myanmar border.

Today, the education level of ethnic minorities in Thailand is, unfortunately, still far below the country’s average, and not all children are able to attend school, especially those without citizenship or the means to pay for school fees and supplies.  Thus, there is still much to be done, and the DEPDC / GMS is doing its part to make education available for these children in its Half Day School (HDS), Community Learning Center (CLC), Mekong Child Rights Protection (MCRP) Center, and Mekong Regional Indigenous Child Rights Home (MRICRH) projects.

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Half Day School students during a Science lesson with Teacher Alinda, a former DEPDC ‘Daughter’

This 2014-15 school year, the Half Day School (HDS) Program offers pre-school and primary level education to a total number of about 70 children from Pa Tak Village and surrounding villages in Mae Sai, and to children who cross the Thailand-Myanmar border every day to have a chance to receive free education.  Nearly all of these children are ethnic minorities and often suffer from statelessness, and are therefore at a severe sociopolitical disadvantage. In the morning, the children study academic subjects, which are as closely aligned to the official national curriculum as possible.  In the afternoon and on occasions during school breaks, Half Day School teachers provide students with vocational and life skills trainings.

The Community Learning Center (CLC) Project targets youth and young adults throughout villages in Mae Sai District. Currently, the CLC Project offers ongoing Thai and English language literacy training to improve young people’s ability to compete in the labor market and even to enter higher education.  In addition to these regular courses, the Project sometimes holds special seminars and trainings in the following fields: Prevention of Human Trafficking and Child Labor, Drugs Prevention, Nationality and Immigration, Environmental Issues, HIV/AIDS Prevention, First Aid, Mental Health and Ideology, Thai and Hill Tribe Cultural Exchange, Traffic Rules and Regulations, Computer Training, Carpentry, Culinary Arts, Flower Arranging, Hygiene, Agriculture.

To learn more about and how to support these literacy development efforts, please visit our Community Learning Center project’s Global Giving donation page.


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Students enjoy playtime after morning classes and lunch

Update on The Community Learning Center on Global Giving

“CLC provides free literacy and human rights education to up to 100 refugees, members of ethnic minority hill tribes, undocumented migrants, Buddhist monks and other community members living along the Thai-Burmese border. Many of these people are at significant risk of being trafficked into exploitative situations such as forced sex work or hard labour. Providing them with the opportunity for academic, vocational and human rights education significantly reduces this risk. CLC has been operating since 2005 and is showing no signs of slowing down!”

Read the rest on our GlobalGiving profileOur heartfelt thanks to everyone who has supported and continues to support this project. Thanks for helping us provide the opportunity for education and literacy to those who need it most in the Mae Sai community.

 

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Update on the Community Learning Center on GlobalGiving

“The Community Learning Center (CLC) provides free language and literacy education to up to 100 community members in the Thai-Burma border region. Students include undocumented migrants, refugees, members of ethnic minority hill tribes, and Buddhist monks. Learning language and literacy gives these marginalized groups improved confidence, skill sets, and earning potential. It also increases their access to educational resources in the community outside of CLC. As a result, the program reduces their risk of being trafficked into exploitative labor situations. On a practical level, learning Thai provides critical improvements to learners’ daily lives and standard of living. It also empowers them to be active members of the community.”

Read the rest on our GlobalGiving profile! Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has supported and continues to support this project. Thanks for helping us provide the opportunity for education and literacy to those who need it most in the Mae Sai community. 

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Meet an International Volunteer: Natalie!

Hi everybody! We are pleased to introduce you this week to one of our current volunteers, Natalie from Texas in the United States. Natalie joined us back in October of 2012 at our Mae Sai site. 

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Before she came to Thailand, Natalie worked for many years as a teacher in the US. After graduating from university, she taught at a private school for gifted children in Austin, Texas. In her first year there, she assistant-taught in a primary classroom, specializing in early literacy skills. For the next two years Natalie worked as a lead teacher, instructing students ranging in age from five to thirteen in English, French, World Geography, and various seminar classes. She also performed many administrative duties at this school, researching time allocation of core subjects and writing the elementary school schedule, organizing all field trips for grades K – 12, and recruiting guest lecturers for elementary seminar courses. 

Subsequently, Natalie has taught SAT Prep to high school students in Texas, worked as a buyer in an Austin clothing store, and volunteered with a local, socially-responsible clothing business called Open Arms, teaching many of their employees – all refugee women from countries around the world – EFL and literacy skills. Natalie has longed for years to come to northern Thailand and do volunteer work to combat the child sex trade. She is overjoyed to be working at DEPDC Mae Sai to educate at-risk youth, as she strongly believes that this is an effective tool in preventing child trafficking and empowering children.

At our Mae Sai site, Natalie teaches English to grades K.2 – G.4-6 at the Half Day School (HDS), teaches Staff English, and teaches adult community members English as a part of the Community Learning Center (CLC) program. Natalie also helps out with social media (she made the Children’s Day video!), writes for our newsletter, and does some report writing. During her last two months at DEPDC, Natalie is writing a teaching manual for all future international volunteers who will be teaching English who may not have had much previous experience or training in education.

Some of Natalie’s favorite experiences at DEPDC so far have been playing games in HDS classes and watching her students have fun learning English, riding her beloved motorbike around town, playing soccer with the HDS kids on Sports Day, and having a class discussion with her CLC students about what they want to do with their lives and hearing so many thoughtful responses about how her students want to help others and try to make the world a better place.

My Biggest Dream

In our Community Learning Centre (CLC) class, the students were given a writing assignment.  They were asked to write about their biggest dream; what  they would do with their lives given no restrictions in mobility or money.  The stories the CLC students wrote were astounding and we’d like to share one with you.

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If I have nothing to worry about my life, my biggest dream is to travel around the world.  First, I will go to Shan State in Burma and fly to India, Nepal and Bhutan.  Then I will go to China and Tibet.  Then I will travel along the Silk Road. Along the Silk Road, I will pass Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Iraq.  After I arrive in Iraq, I will go to Turkey and visit Patra or Red Rose City.  After that, I will aboard a boat in the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.  I will go to Greece first and then go to Italy to visit Venice and the Vatican City.   And I will go to Lichtenstein, Austria, Switzerland and Germany.  Next to Sweden, Norway and England and fly to Belgium and travel adn travel to France, Spain and Portugal.  Then I will go to Africa starting with Egypt and visit the pyramids.  After that,  I will go to Ethiopia and South Africa and take photos of Table Mountain.

Then I will fly to Brazil and go to the Amazon forrest and fly to Peru to visit Macchu Picchu. I will go to the United States through Mexico.  I will not forget to eat Mexican food, too!  I will go to New York, California, Illinois and Montana to visit P’Well.  From San Francisco, Iwill fly to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.  And then come to Vietnam and travel around Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.  Then I wll come bak to Thailand at Nongkhai Province and travel around Thailand.  I will stop at Chiang Mai for a while to be a volunteer at Ban Dog Mai Pa.  After all my travels, I will come back to Mae Sai and eat all the food in Mae Sai! I think it will take about one or two years.  This is my dream!

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