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


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.


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.



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/



Our Thai Spirit

Rong Thao Tae, a music group comprised of members of the Mekong Youth Union Training Centre (MYUTC) has produced a video in response to the flooding that continues to impact central Thailand. It is entitled, “Our Thai Spirit.”

“We at Rong Thao Tae send our support out to everyone.  We dedicate this song to all those who keep on fighting.”  – Rong Thao Tae

We here at DEPDC/GMS continue to be amazed by the creativity and compassion of our youth leaders!  Please see the English translation below.

“Our Thai Spirit” by Rong Thao Tae

Don’t think there’s no one at your side 

Even though you’re far away

Our Thai spirit will never forsake you

Our ties to each other will never fade

 ยามใดเธอทุกข์  ยังมีคนคอยห่วงใย
When you’re suffering, there are those who care

ให้เธอพ้นภัย  อย่าหวั่นไหว
You’ll be out of danger, don’t be afraid

น้ำใจไทย  ยังคงไหลไม่ขาดสาย
Thai spirit keeps flowing, never stopping

จะอยู่หนใด ยังเป็นกำลังใจให้เธอ
Anywhere, any time – we send our encouragement to you

จะใกล้ไกล ความห่วงใยก็ไปหา(ไปหา)
Near or far, our hearts are with you (with you) 

Take your suffering and sadness

เอาความทุกข์ที่เธอหม่นหมอง  ให้มันหายไป
Blow it all away, make it go away

MYUTC organises Cross-Community Workshop against Human Trafficking

The Mekong Youth Union Training Centre (MYUTC)* recently organised a two-day workshop on Human Trafficking. This took place on Thursday the 28th at the Mae Sai District Offices, with DEPDC/GMS hosting the Friday session at the Centre. A number of representatives from the community attended the training, including a number of the police force, teachers, doctors, youth, staff from the local hospital, representatives from community organisations and DEPDC/GMS staff.

The workshop was funded by Plan International and had a total of 40 participants. The three key speakers were a lawyer, a social development expert and a director of protection and rescue programmes. The participants were divided into groups where they brainstormed various social issues in their community, presenting them to the entire group at the end of the day. Among the issues raised were family problems, human trafficking, child labour, drugs, underage drinking and other forms of anti-social behaviour by youths as well as violence against women and children.

P’Mali, a member of DEPDC/GMS’ education staff, explained that she gained a lot of knowledge from the lawyer who spoke about basic child rights and different laws protecting children, and stated that this workshop was an invaluable experience for her. All participants thoroughly enjoyed attending the workshop and meeting new people with similar interests and the same goal: Stop Human Trafficking!

*MYUTC offers training, consultancy and support to youth leaders and staff working on a grassroots level in all 6 countries of the GMS, each replicating the success of DEPDC/GMS, preventing children from being trafficked and exploited. To read more about MYUTC click here.

Child Labour Awareness Workshop

Last November, a workshop about child labour was held at the DEPDC/GMS Chiang Khong Centre, led by P’Peh, P’Nui and P’Nuan*, youth leaders of the Mekong Youth Union (MYU). They taught the girls how to recognise, react, and resist situations of child labor, human rights violations, and domestic violence.

“When they can recognise these forms of abuse while they are happening, they can apply this knowledge to real-life situations in the future,” said P’Too, Director of the Chiang Khong Centre.

Through a collaborative effort, the girls brainstormed and created a dramatised skit. With the help of P’Nuan, technician at the
MYU Training Centre, it was then recorded for future use on Child Voice Radio.

*In Thai, a P’ is added to people’s names as a form of common courtesy. It is used to address older brothers and sisters as well as older acquaintances. It is common that people of roughly similar ages address each other using P’ in front of the name. The equivalent for younger siblings and friends is Nong.

Khun Noom, Director of MYUTC

Ever since its conception back in 1989, DEPDC/GMS has grown from strength to strength, expanding its outreach from a small town called Mae Sai in Northern Thailand, to all 6 countries of the GMS (Greater Mekong Sub-region). DEPDC/GMS has directly assisted over 6,000 children with hundreds of volunteers and staff assisting over the last 21 years. Although, in the first few years, it all began with a handful of volunteers working alongside DEPDC/GMS’ founder, Ajarn Sompop Jantraka. One of these volunteers was a young woman called Ms. Somporn Khempetch (Khun Noom).*

Khun Noom was raised by a family of farmers in Uttaradit Province of northern Thailand. From the age of six, Khun Noom would work on her family’s farm on weekends and school holidays, helping to grow many crops, including rice, water melons, peanuts, and chillies as well as a large fruit garden. When she wasn’t working on the farm, Khun Noom was studying hard and successfully graduated from primary, middle and high school before attending the Chiang Rai Teacher College, where she studied community development.

In 1989, Khun Noom attended a college lecture facilitated by Ajarn Sompop Jantraka, who was talking to students about his newly formed NGO (Non-governmental Organisation), then called DEP (Daughters Education Programme), the first project of DEPDC/GMS. At that time, Khun Noom was shocked to learn the extent of the issue of human trafficking, initially not believing it was possible. With this in mind, she decided she would apply as a volunteer with the DEP project together with her close friend as soon as she graduated from the Chiang Rai Teacher College.

In the mean time, Khun Noom actively worked in the community with her classmates, facilitating activities and games with children in local NGO’s. Khun Noom says, “Those experiences were key to preparing me to dedicate my time to be a volunteer for the DEP project.”

Khun Noom graduated from the Chiang Rai Teacher College, and in 1994, she successfully passed the volunteer examination for the DEP project and joined DEPDC/GMS as a full-time volunteer. She quickly learnt about the problem of human trafficking and soon became the coordinator responsible for the children living in DEPDC/GMS’ Chiang Khong centre. Between then and 1999, Khun Noom managed the administration for DEPDC/GMS, coordinated the street children rescue project and follow-up, and was responsible for the life skills and development training for the children living at the shelters.

Between 1999 and 2009, Khun Noom was the head coordinator of the Child Protection Rights Centre in Chiang Rai as well as being a key member of DEPDC/GMS’ management team. Khun Noom’s coordination, with the assistance of her staff, has enabled hundreds of children to be offered new opportunities in life, reducing and eliminating the risk of them being trafficked.

In 2010, Khun Noom became the director of the MYUTC (Mekong Youth Union Training Centre) which offers training, consultancy and support to the youth leaders and staff working on a grassroots level in all 6 countries of the GMS, each replicating the success of DEPDC/GMS, preventing children from being trafficked and exploited.

Get to know other staff and volunteers at DEPDC/GMS in our series ‘Staff Profiles‘!

*According to Thai etiquette, women and men are addressed using the title ‘Khun’ and adding their first name or nickname. Somporn Khempetch’s nickname is ‘Noom’, hence she is addressed as ‘Khun Noom’. ‘Ajarn’ is a title used for teachers or professors or for otherwise esteemed persons, and so Khun Sompop is also addressed as ‘Ajarn Sompop’.

Child Voice TV – Watch it on YouTube!

You can now watch videos produced by Child Voice TV on YouTube. Child Voice TV is a project of the Mekong Youth Union Training Centre (MYUTC) in Mae Sai. Currently, all featured videos are in Thai language only, but even if you do not understand Thai you will get a great impression of the activities of the Mekong Youth Net (MYN), the Border Youth Leadership Training Programme (BYLTP) and the many other projects of DEPDC/GMS.

To watch the MYUTC YouTube channel, please click on the YouthTube logo above or go to www.youtube.com/TheMYUTC.

Child Voice News Workshop

In late July, a special workshop was held at DEPDC/GMS in Mae Sai for ten youth leaders from the Mekong Youth Net (MYN) in Thailand and Myanmar (Burma). The MYN is a group of youth leaders that went through a 3-year training programme initiated by DEPDC/GMS in 2004. It established a network of grassroots anti-trafficking projects throughout the Greater Mekong Sub-region as a link between individuals as well as non-governmental and governmental organisations. The Mekong Youth Union (MYU) is the umbrella organisation of the MYN. It is located in Mae Sai and runs a training centre to further develop the Child Voice Media projects of DEPDC/GMS, namely Child Voice TV, Child Voice Radio and Child Voice News. The workshop consisted of a 3-day intensive programme led by Matthias Lehmann, a German staff member at DEPDC/GMS’ International Department, and translated by Amy, a volunteer from Thailand.

On the first day, the workshop taught the participants how to organise an editorial department. The participants then gathered the topics they would like to feature in the newspaper and were given assignments to prepare for the second day. Among the suggested topics were, to name but a few, the culture and traditions of ethnic groups in the region, health education, the difficulties ethnic minorities face in Myanmar, interviews with staff and children from other NGOs, information about local events and landmarks, introducing people of the local community, as well as information about the mission and activities of DEPDC/GMS.

Throughout Day 2, participants wrote and edited their articles and selected images to go along with them. Afterwards, two models for the structure of the newspaper were developed and discussed. On the third day, participants learnt how to research and choose images to effectively convey a message, how to edit and improve images using an image editor, and how to create newspaper pages using a publishing programme. The third day concluded with participants filling out a questionnaire to evaluate the workshop. All participants stated that they had become more interested in the newspaper project as a result of the workshop and would participate in varying degrees. Everybody welcomed the idea for a second workshop if it were to be offered and preparations for that are already underway.

Let’s hear what Amy has to say about her experience at the workshop. “I was astonished by how hard-working the youth leaders are. Although it seemed like they have a lot on their plates already, they pursued this project with passion. They had so many good ideas about how they are planning to make the newspaper relevant and interesting. They put so much energy into the work that they are doing, which I admire so much. Matthias also did an excellent job teaching them very useful computer skills and they all praised the session about that.”

Matthias observed that he “was impressed how the participants’ motivation accelerated over the three days. It boosted my own motivation and I am already planning the next workshop for the MYN youth leaders, this time led by a team of Thai journalists. It was great to work together with the youth leaders and Amy for three full days and apart from the work we accomplished, I was really glad to get to know all of them better.”

Child Voice News is intended to be published monthly in Thai, with a digest version in English every 3 months, so stay tuned for future updates!

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