DEPDC/GMS’s Annual Summer Camp 2018

DEPDC/GMS’s Annual Summer Camp 2018

Development and Education Programme for Daughters and Communities Centre in the Greater Mekong Subregion (DEPDC/GMS) hosts an annual summer camp each year. This year, DEPDC/GMS hosted 54 students of SYSTERM and the three upper classes of the Patak Half Day School.

The HDS children said goodbye to their parents and siblings on Monday, February 22nd. They arrived to school each carrying one bag containing only a few necessary items.

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Students arrive to school with bags in hand for their yearly camping trip.

All students participating in camp were required to give their cellular phones to the Director of Education to be locked away for the duration of the three day, two night camp. Additionally, every student was encouraged to wake up each morning at 5:30AM to exercise for at least a half hour before cooking breakfast. Many chose running followed by kinesthetics as their choice of exercise.

The SYSTERM and HDS students were then divided into six groups of varying ages and gender. The students from the two programs were able to become friends and worked well together despite age, ethnicity, and language differences.

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Each group was given enough rice, vegetables, and sauces to last for 4 dishes, 2 dinner meals and two breakfast meals. Lunch was provided each day with a traditional dessert in order to allow more time for education. The groups planned out what to cook each day with the items provided and alternated which members cooked and which members helped clean the camping space.

The first two days of camp, guest speakers came to teach the students about health, the human body and puberty, sex education, emotional wellness, and relationships.

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On the second day of camp, the students created posters presenting one important concept they had learned during training on day one and two of camp. By looking at their posters below, you can see that the students obtained both very serious and practical life knowledge.

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In the evening, the students divided up into their groups and produced a brief play to perform the following night at the camp bonfire. The night ended with the campers learning to sing new songs written in several different languages, including Thai, English, Tai Yai, and even one in Chinese.

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The camp bonfire took place on the second night of camp. This was most of the students’ favorite part of camp as it involved singing, dancing, snacks, and watching their classmates perform silly skits.

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Teacher Hom and a HDS alumni lead a dance to a song practiced the night before
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Students from the green group prepare to present their skit at the camp bonfire

Fire safety training was provided on the final day of camp. A handful of members from the Fire and Rescue Department of Wiangphangkam, Mae Sai came for the morning to provide hands-on demonstrations on how to put out fire in a safe and efficient manner.

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A SYSTERM student learns how to safely turn off a gas tank

The children learned about the different classes of fire (i.e.,  Classes A, B, C,D, and E) and learned how to extinguish fires involving solid materials, flammable liquids, gases, metals, and live electrical apparatus appropriately.

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At the end of the third day of camp, the Half Day School children packed up their tents and loaded up on the school bus to return home. However, the SYSTERM students will continue their long stay away from their homes for the duration of the Shan Youth Safety Training to End Risk Migration.

Thank you to all those who support DEPDC/GMS in one way or another. Your kindness has helped the Half Day School and SYSTERM students enjoy another year of camp filled with fun learning experiences!

 

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DEPDC/GMS Transportation Support for At-Risk Children and Youth

DEPDC/GMS Transportation Support for At-Risk Children and Youth:

A GlobalGiving Quarterly Report

The team at DEPDC/GMS’s Half Day School is happy to report that our bus and truck are both running smoothly thanks to donation support through GlobalGiving. Both vehicles continue to safely transport HDS students to and from school each day, thus providing access to free education to those without. This would not be possible without your generous support and donations.

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The Patak Half Day School bus and blue pickup truck are crucial in providing local and cross-border transport for at-risk children throughout the school week. The children are not only from Patak village, where DEPDC/GMS’s Coordination Centre is located. The majority of students live miles from the school. Only a few are able to travel via bicycle and none by foot. Several students come via a shared family motorbike, but this is often unreliable and a much more dangerous form of transportation for primary school children. Thus, education for these students would not be possible without school transportation to and from DEPDC/GMS.

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A recnt photo from this week’s yearly camping trip at the DEPDC/GMS Half Day School campus.

Taking a look around the DEPDC/GMS campus, it is clear to see that the students value the importance of their colorful bus and their school grounds. They are taught to take care of the bus, the truck, and the school campus as if it were their own home. Team work keeps the school’s property looking clean and the children proud of their Half Day School.

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Students arrive to school with bags in hand for their yearly camping trip.

For this particular project, no news most often means good news. Three months ago, the truck had the official government safety inspection for the truck completed. Additionally, both vehicles received recent oil changes and have been cleaned on a monthly basis.

Starting in January, DEPDC/GMS began a new program called Shan Youth Safety Training to End Risk Migration (SYSTERM). This program seeks to provide intensive leadership, life skills, and safety training to 100 stateless, youth, at-risk of being trafficked into exploitive conditions, such as forced labor, the sex industry, and domestic servitude. The bus is being used to transport the students on weekends to local site seeing locations around Mae Sai. Additionally, the blue truck is crucial for transporting the first group of 54 students to the border every seven days to have their permission cards to stay in Thailand stamped by immigration.

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Half Day School and SYSTERM students getting ready for a bamboo race on DEPDC/GMS’s annual Sports Day

Thank you again to all our current, future, and past donors, we are able to offer free and safe transportation to our Half Day School children and new students participating in SYSTERM. Please continue to support our cause through GlobalGiving donations.

You can find the GlobalGiving project report and donation options here.

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All the staff members and children sincerely thank you for your time and for supporting our mission to provide free education to at-risk children and youth in the border town of Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, Thailand. DEPDC/GMS could not do this without the kindness of people like you.

Sports Day

Sports Day

This Monday, February 5th, DEPDC/GMS held its annual Sports Day Celebration, marking its 12th year. This is a day when all the students take a break from their studies to compete in a variety of exciting contests with their fellow classmates.

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Half Day School and SYSTERM Students Line Up for a Bamboo Team Race

DEPDC/GMS’s Half Day School is divided into four grade levels, class A, B, C, and D, based on several factors, including their Thai language ability, age, and educational level. Half Day School students range in age from 4 to about 15 years old. For Sports Day, the school is evenly split into 3 teams, Blue, Red, and White, with a mix of each grade level. The students then play several rounds of each game, rounds for girls and boys of each age group to represent their team color in each competition.

This year was special as the Half Day School’s Sports Day included 54 additional students whom are attending the Shan Youth Safety Training to End Risk Migration (SYSTERM) at the DEPDC/GMS Coordination Centre. Please, find more information about SYSTERM at the end of this blog. SYSTERM students jumped right into these games with equal enthusiasm despite their ages ranging from 15 to 26 years old.

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SYSTERM Students Preparing for a Multi-Leg Racing Event

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Sports Day allowed a time for HDS students and SYSTERM students to become acquainted with each other in fun, mini-team building exercises. This year, we were lucky enough to have beautiful, warm weather for the entire day of festivities!

To name just a few, games included tug-a-war, racing with water balloons, a bamboo log run, a piggy back race, and a blind-folded face painting contest. To complete the day, an award ceremony was held for the top competitors in each event.

One of the class favorites to watch was the superman race. Students pulled up underpants and raced with a blanket across their shoulders to their teammates on the opposite side of a field. Can you think of a better way to relax and laugh around new faces than pretending to be superman as you race across a field in underpants?

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HDS Student Races in Underwear in the Superman Race
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HDS Students Receive Awards on Sports Day

Want to see more photos of Sport’s Day? Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

What is SYSTERM? SYSTERM is an innovative, intensive leadership and safety training program for at-risk, stateless youth from the Thai-Myanmar border, most notably Shan State. Visit our GlobalGiving page to read the project outline and see how you can support DEPDC/GMS’s efforts to prevent human-trafficking before children and women fall victim to this 150-billion dollar industry. SYSTERM group B is planned to arrive in just three short months; however, financial support is needed to make this possible. Please, help spread the word!

Looking for a volunteer or internship placement? DEPDC/GMS is currently looking for volunteers and interns to assist with the training and management of the Half Day School, Community Learning Center, and SYSTERM projects. The first step in applying is completing an International Volunteer Application, which can be found on our website under the “volunteer” section. Once completed, please send an updated CV/resume, passport scan/photo, and the International Volunteer Application to our International Department (depdc.gms@gmail.com).

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!

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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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One Volunteer’s Experience

Want to volunteer or intern with at-risk children and youth? Learn about Katie’s experience volunteering with DEPDC/GMS, anti-human trafficking NGO, located in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

“One Volunteer’s Experience” by Katie Crosman

It’s difficult to describe my time here at DEPDC. It’s not easy to justly write about 6 months that literally changed my life. From the first day I arrived I knew I had made the right decision to volunteer at DEPDC. The staff and kids became like a family and one that I looked forward to seeing every day. The days can be busy during the school year but it was a welcomed busy because I knew I was working for a cause worth every minute of my time. There is an integrity to the mission and staff at DEPDC that made me feel so confident in the work they are doing. When you volunteer at DEPDC you actually feel like you are making a difference, and the experiences are invaluable. During my time I had opportunities to help write to members of UNESCO and attend meetings with UNESCO speakers. I had the opportunity to assist a film crew make a short documentary about DEPDC and welcome volunteer University students on a 2 week journey to assist DEPDC staff with various projects. It can get crazy! A good crazy full of life and excitement! I thought leaving my life in America for 1/2 year would be hard but turns out leaving DEPDC was MUCH harder. I have done a lot of traveling and living overseas in my life and returning home has never been an issue. Sure, a little culture shock and adjustment to time change but nothing dramatic. That was, until my return from DEPDC. I had come to love my life at the center and it was heart breaking to leave. It took me a while to feel whole again. I dreamt of the kids for months after leaving! It’s way too easy to get attached to them! Again, they are all like family. I had the privilege to return again this year for a visit and it was like I never left. My time there made such an impression, impacted me in such a way that I know I will continue to go back when I can and help where I can. If you have ever considered being a volunteer, please don’t hesitate. Message them now! This is an organization worth your time! Who doesn’t need more family, love and purpose in their life?!

Posted: 11/15/2017

During Katie’s return visit to our Half Day School in November 2017, over a year after completing her volunteer service
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Katie Crosman with Sompop Jantraka, Founder of DEPDC/GMS

Considering volunteering? Want to combat human trafficking in the Greater Mekong Subregion of Thailand through youth intensive 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.

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

Donate now to DEPDC/GMS! Your dollar goes further on #GivingTuesday. Keep the children of DEPDC/GMS in mind during this holiday season. 

Learn about our new project to stop human-trafficking!

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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