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!

 

 

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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

 

 

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!

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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