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

 

 

Peter’s International Volunteer Experience

Peter’s International Volunteer Experience

The following is a review written by Peter, a former International Volunteer of DEPDC/GMS, who dedicated six months to working with children and youth at-risk of being trafficked into exploitative labour conditions, most notably the sex-industry:

“Let me start by saying that this is a great place to volunteer.

The administrative director, P’Noom (Somporn Khempetch), who was also named one of the 100 women of the year 2017 by the BBC, was my main contact while I was in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai. She helped me not only with getting started, but also with questions I had in day-to-day living in a new country. Other staff members tried to engage in conversation with me, despite that there is a bit of a language barrier.

The work I did consisted not only of teaching English to children aged 4-19 during the day, but also impoverished adults and high school students who wanted to expand their knowledge. Besides teaching, I got a chance to develop my administrative and writing skills. I helped write project proposals, maintained the social media profiles, conducted volunteer application interviews, and gave presentations about the organisation to visiting programs. These extra tasks prevented the time there from becoming monotonous, especially when I also got the chance to join the director and staff on training sessions and school outings. The director is also open in letting the volunteers offer an additional class if a person has such a specific class they would like to teach.

The staff is very friendly and caring. You can see that they all take that extra step to help not only the children, but also the volunteers. This is also noticeable in the vegetarian food they serve at the school and then supply the most impoverished of the children the leftovers and donated food.

The city is a great and safe place to be. Some people might look at you in amazement when you go into the rural areas, but it is always friendly. You can go and travel around by night and pop into a 7/11 for some food and nobody will bother you. I enjoyed the surrounding nature and after buying a cheap scooter I was able to explore it even further. I drank coffee from a mountain village where it was produced and met friends for life in a coffee place on Namon road. Unfortunately, I had to stop a month earlier than expected due to my career progressing in the time that I had spent there. I would say go and apply and have an experience you’ll never forget.”

– Peter, An International Volunteer

Thank you, Peter, for your generosity! We are grateful for the time you dedicated to helping the children of the Patak Half Day School and raising awareness of DEPDC/GMS’s mission! You are dearly missed by all the children and staff! Best wishes to you in your doctorate studies.

Peter with students

Considering volunteering in 2018? Want to work with at-risk children and youth in Thailand and combat human trafficking through prevention and education? We are looking for people like you. Send an International Volunteer Application to the International Department of DEPDC/GMS: depdc.gms@gmail.com. We welcome further inquiries prior to submitting applications for volunteering or interning with DEPDC/GMS.

Learn about the Human-Trafficking Situation in North Thailand and the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Here.

Learn about our new project to protect stateless migrants from human-trafficking, Shan Youth Safety Training to End Risk Migration (SYSTERM).

Good Morning from DEPDC/GMS’s Half Day School!

Good Morning from DEPDC/GMS’s Half Day School!

Mornings are my favorite time at the Patak Half Day School. The weather this time of year is chilly and the children love playing games outside with friends before starting the school day. You can hear the children laughing, playing with Coco, the school’s pet dog, and working together to keep their school a clean and safe place for all their classmates.

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Entrance into the HDS: The Sign Reads “The Patak Half Day School”

Here is what a typical morning looks like at the Patak Half Day School (HDS).

Students begin to arrive around 8:15. Some come with parents or an older sibling via motorbike. The majority come by way of the HDS school bus.

The older students can be found chatting with friends in groups or studying quietly at the picnic tables.

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The youngest girls love to play at the playground early in the morning; they especially love the swing set.

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At the moment, the boys’ favorite game is “Look Kaew”, also known as marble shooting. They usually divide into two groups, dig small holes in the ground, and try to get their marble into the hole while successfully knocking the other players’ marbles far away from the goal.

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Students playing “Look Kaew” before school.

This time of year you can also see the some children arriving in pyjamas worn over other clothing to keep them warm before the midday sun arrives. This morning in particular was 49°F (10°C).

Each day different students help sweep the grounds and keep their playground clean. Keeping their environment clean and safe is an important value instilled in every student at the Half Day School.

Finally, at 9:00 am, the bell rings and students line up to pay respect to the flag. This event is led by each group’s president, voted into their leadership position by their very own classmates.

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Considering volunteering? Want to fight human trafficking in Northern Thailand through education and intensive youth leadership training? We are looking for people like you. Send us an International Volunteer Application to the International Department of DEPDC/GMS: depdc.gms@gmail.com.

Donate to the Half Day School here! #GlobalGiving

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!

 

 

Local Running Club Gives DEPDC/GMS Some Love!

Local Running Club Gives DEPDC/GMS Some Love!

Representatives of the Mae Sai Running Club visited the Half Day School after their morning run on November 29th, 2017. They arrived with big smiles, monetary donations, and several large bags of second hand clothing.

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We love second hand clothing donations as they are initially used more frequently than brand new store bought items by many of our students. The children receive new socks and underwear multiple times throughout the year thanks to a few supporters. However, because they are brand new the children will often choose to wear older pairs or even go without in order to save the new clothing for a special occasion. For this reason, basic clothing items are always kept on hand in case a teacher finds a student with a torn item or going without while at school.

The warm clothing is much appreciated by our children. Temperatures can drop significantly during the winter months in Mae Sai, which is located in the far north-west corner of Thailand. Additionally, long sleeve shirts and sweaters are worn even throughout the warmer months to protect our student’s skin from the strong sun rays.

 

20171130_125721-1.jpgClothing donations from the Mae Sai Running Club and other community donors were dispersed the following day in a fun but orderly fashion

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The money was donated to help fund the Half Day School’s Lunch Program, which provides a nutritious midday meal for every one of our students. The Half Day School children were asked what they wanted to eat the next day after receiving the generous donation. Their response: noodles and Thai dessert!

The following day, all the HDS students and teachers enjoyed a favorite noodle dish with vegetables, soy milk, and a traditional Thai dessert, pumpkin soaked in sweetened coconut milk!

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Thank you Mae Sai Running Club for giving to the children of the Half Day School. Your gifts, time, and hugs were greatly appreciated!

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Time to Harvest the HDS Rice Field!

Time to Harvest the HDS Rice Field!

This week at the Half Day School was full of hands on learning.

Every year, the students, teachers, and volunteers come together to plant rice just before the start of the rainy season. When August arrives, the students pull and replant the rice into small bunches to make harvesting more efficient. Finally, the end of the rainy season means that it’s time to harvest the Half Day School’s rice field!

This project allows the Half Day School students to learn about the rice plant; this includes understanding its growth cycle, studying its nutritional benefits, and experimenting with its many different usages in the kitchen.

In addition to serving as a learning activity, this project helps provide some self-sustainability to our school lunch program. If there’s plenty of rainfall, our yearly harvest can provide rice to the students for approximately two to three weeks. Teachers and staff members at DEPDC/GMS are always looking for ways to increase the sustainability of their education programs as each year becomes harder and harder to obtain financial support from donors. We also have a mushroom house and a small vegetable farm!

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This week, the children welcomed the opportunity to leave the classroom for a day to learn about traditional farming techniques. After learning how to use a sickle safely, the children alternated between reaping the school rice field and enjoying the cool outdoor breeze with their classmates. Due to the small size of our rice field, the reaping was all completed just after midday.  Just in time to play some Share Ball!

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Share Ball, a favorite game of our HDS students

 

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