Half Day School Welcomes in a New Semester…and Some New Faces!

Half Day School Welcomes in a New Semester…and Some New Faces!

What is the DEPDC/GMS Half Day School?

            The Half Day School, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, Thailand, provides education to children who are at-risk of being trafficked into the sex industry and other forms of exploitive working conditions. Our students tend to be children of stateless persons and migrants from neighboring countries who are unable to receive an education through other means. Providing the children with a mid-day meal, shoes, school supplies, and various other needs assists the children directly while also providing an incentive for their parents to let them remain in school. Keeping children in school can often be a challenge, one which becomes more and more difficult with each passing birthday. This free education provides them with a safe environment to grow and learn, a basic human right which all children should enjoy. Additionally, the Half Day School provides an education with a focus on prevention strategies and the life skills needed to develop and maintain a self-sufficient life.

A group of students focus on a word search during English language class

 A New Semester Brings in Both New and Familiar Faces…

            September 13th through 17th was the first full school week back in session for the Half Day School after a month long semester break. We are grateful that our students have returned safely with happy faces, excited to get back to their studies with their friends and proud teachers.

            We welcomed two new students this semester, a brother and sister. Being a new student at the Half Day School can be just as challenging as it is exciting. Many of our students come to us speaking little to no Thai, the language in which all instruction is provided, and typically no previous education. Many of our students speak Burmese, Shan (Tai Yai), Akha, or Karen before learning to speak and write in Thai at the Half Day School. Lovingly, our students assist the teachers in supporting their new classmates to learn Thai in both a natural and formal manner. Once comfortable in Thai, our students quickly dive into studying the English language. English classes are offered as part of the weekly curriculum and in the evenings for students who cannot attend the HDS or would like to improve their speaking abilities through additional classes.

            This semester, the students at the Half Day School returned with a surprise waiting for them. Their former teacher and International Volunteer, Katie Crosman, came all the way from Oregon to visit. In addition to seeing a familiar face, the children began English studies with a new teacher, Kristin Moreau. DEPDC/GMS relies on volunteers like Kristin and Katie to assist with multiple areas within the organization, including the rewarding experience of teaching English and extracurricular activities to the children at the Half Day School.

Students gather together on the first day of school with their former teacher, Katie Crosman

            Please see our webpage for more information if you are interested in an international volunteer or internship position which would allow you to gain valuable experience in the areas of education, migrants and refugees, youth empowerment, and human trafficking prevention. We currently have an immediate need within the DEPDC/GMS International Department and at the Half Day School. Kindly, spread the word!

Kristin Moreau, MS, CCC-SLP

DEPDC/GMS International Volunteer

 

 

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BBC 100 Women 2017

Administrative Director of DEPDC/GMS is Recognized by BBC News: 100 Women of 2017

BBC 100 Women 2017

DEPDC/GMS has a small but incredible team of men and women working hard day and night to bring a brighter future to its Daughters and Sons.

Known as “Kru Noom” by students and “Pi Noom” by friends and colleagues, Somporn Khempetch is one of these women. She has worked for DEPDC/GMS since 1994 and currently serves as the Administrative Director in addition to her role of teaching at the Half Day School.  As pictured above, she was recently recognized as one of BBC’s 100 Women of 2017.

Thank you, Pi Noom, for all your hard work, generosity, and resilience! DEPDC/GMS is proud to have you on our team!

 

 

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.

 

 

Former Daughter and Sons Give Back!

Former Daughter and Sons Give Back!

With financial support raised through Global Giving, the Half Day School’s Lunch Program is able to provide a mid-day meal to every student. On behalf of all the students, teachers, and volunteers at DEPDC/GMS, I would like to say thank you to current, past, and future supporters…you make a difference in the lives of our students and their families!

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As some children may only receive this one meal throughout the day, the Half Day School Lunch Program attempts to provide students with a satisfying yet nutritious lunch. DEPDC/GMS recognizes that learning is impossible if basic needs are overlooked.

In addition to international fundraising, DEPDC/GMS was grateful to receive special visitors from Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai Province who offered their own donations of food for the Half Day School:

On September 12th, a former Daughter (student of DEPDC/GMS) returned to visit with her mother, husband, and best friend. They provided gifts of dried food and other vegetarian items, such as ice-cream and sweetmeat, for the younger generation of Daughters and Sons of the Half Day School. Following graduation from DEPDC/GMS, she received continued financial support to complete three years of high school. Referring to Sompop Jantraka, founder of DEPDC/GMS, as “Father”, she thanked him for helping provide her with a life of safety and stability where she finally has the capability to “give back”.

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On October 20th, two former Sons returned to visit and donate nonperishable items for the Half Day School Lunch Program. Current students had the opportunity to listen and learn from two strong role models who were once in a similar place in life. The two former Sons are now Monks with one completing his third year of law school. DEPDC/GMS strives to teach the importance of community service, thus it was a blessing to watch former students not only exemplify this value but also share it directly with younger Daughters and Sons.

Former Sons donate food 2

Your support was tremendously appreciated, especially as the weather begins to cool in Northern Thailand these next few months. Although the cooler weather is welcomed with open arms, it also means “hello” to the common cold and an increase in expenses for fresh fruits and vegetables.

Thank you for your time reading our blog! Please continue to provide your much needed support and don’t forget to spread the news about our mission here at DEPDC/GMS by following, liking, or sharing us on your favorite social media platform!

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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Food!

IMG_20170619_112845Our organization does more than just teach the children English, Thai, Math etc. We provide them with guidance and an opportunity to learn further. But we also provide conditions for them to go to school, such as to provide shoes to the children thanks to donations as mentioned in a previous blog. Another condition we accommodate is providing food for the students, as their families are not able to do this.IMG_20170619_115405 One of the benefits of having volunteers from around the world is diversity in foods. In the past year we had a great Korean person that came specifically to cook an assortment of delicious food for the children. But most of the volunteers share the food from their countries during their time they teach. Peter, our Dutch volunteer for the past months, likes to cook in his free hours. Here he has been making a thick tomato soup together with some of the students this week. One of our deaf students was eager to show him the sign language of the vegetables.

IMG_20170619_112911 For a special event (soon to be mentioned more about this) Peter is making ‘Arretjes cake’, one of his local chocolate cakes for everyone.

Would you like to join us and share your own local recipes, whilst also helping our organization? Please let us know!

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!

Links:

Beginning of the rainy season

As some of you all know, two weeks ago the rainy season has started. And that means, you’ve guessed it, rain.  After months with lots of sun and heat, the rain is welcomed like an old friend. The temperature is going down during the rain, but after it quickly rises again. The storm blows away the smoke that accumulates in this valley, which you can notice in the behavior of the children. They are more active and the boys are more active in playing football outside.1495696953405

The rain unfortunately also comes to show the repairs that needed to be done. During the first storm a tree fall down and took down a phone pole, fortunately it was quickly repaired by some local volunteers.  However the rain in the next days showed the holes in parts of the roof. Fortunately the holes aren’t located in a classroom, but it is causing a lot of water in the corridors. As can be seen in the pictures, the rain really pours down.  Repairs are needed; however this unfortunately does cost money. That is why we reach out to you all, our trusted readers and donators, in hope you will help repair the roof with your donations.1495696956281

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