Category Archives: MRICRH

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

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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.

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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.

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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/

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The Swimming Camp

From 22nd to 24th of October, the Swimming Camp was held at the Swimming Home Shelter in Mae Chan with 150 children from five NGOs in the nearby Mekong region including students of DEPDC.

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According to recent research, drowning death rates in the Mekong area are on the rise during the annual monsoon season due to rapid climate change. And three-quarters of the drowning victims are children. Therefore, Mekong regional organizations and NGOs took this issue seriously and decided to work together in a cooperative way to host the Swimming Camp in order to prevent drowning of children.

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During the three days of swimming lessons, the students were separated three groups depending on their swimming abilities and learned from basic swimming skills to advanced swimming techniques. The beginner group practiced how to float on the water, flutter kicks and dives into the water. The intermediate group had learned efficient flutter kicks with a swimming kick board and basic freestyle form. Lastly, the advanced group did skillful swimming drills and learned how to dive off a starting block. Although some of the children could not dare to dive into the water on the first day, they were enjoying swimming on the last day.

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Not only did the the children have a chance to learn basic swimming safety skills, but also they had valuable time to learn proper social ethics, how to use the internet and smartphones properly and effectively, as well as how to handle emergency situations such as earthquakes, floods and tsunamis. They also learned about children rights, sexual abuse and child labor through various interesting experiments and funny games. Moreover, they sang popular Thai songs together in the evening. Their songs were so energetic, so it was enough to make us happy and joyful.

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In the camp, all of students were always well organized, cooperative, and showed community friendly behavior. The children also participated in every learning session with passionate engagement, they were able to grow in a short period of time. Thanks to their remarkable decent attitude, the camp ended successfully without mishap.

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This Swimming Camp was so meaningful and worthwhile for everyone. Above all, the children will be able to save their own lives in a water-based emergency as they learned vital lifesaving skills. Also, NGOs and organizations in the nearby Mekong area were able to create strong bonds and move beyond mere cooperation and engage in true collaboration to solve problems and reach common goals against human trafficking. Despite everyone’s efforts, this swimming camp would not be able to continue without your support. If you would like to support the HDS or any other project at DEPDC, please visit our project page on GlobalGiving.

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What is the Marshmallow Test?

Did you ever hear about the Marshmallow Test? This is one of the most influential psychological experiment about self-control by Walter Mischel. The test is quite simple. A small child was served a marshmallow and was given two choices: you can eat one marshmallow now or, if you can wait, you get to eat two marshmallows later. If you were that child, could you wait for that tortured moment? The research found that that the children who were able to wait longer for the two marshmallows were more likely to have better life outcomes and more successful life styles. The study emphasized that delayed gratification and self-control are major factors for a successful life.

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Then, what about our children in the Swimming Home shelter or at the Half Day School? Although I have yet to conduct the same experiment so far, but I bet all of our children would eat the marshmallow in a second. It is not surprising at all. According to recent psychological research, a children’s attitude can be different depending on the financial circumstance. The children in a poor environment tend to take action to get a certain reward immediately instead of waiting for an uncertain future reward. In other words, the effects of poverty, hunger and homelessness on children may lower self-control and patience for delayed gratification.

Why talk about this boring psychology research now? Because this research is associated with us here at DEPDC directly. While we are teaching children about English, music or dance, the children cannot sit on a chair more than 20 minutes and want more games, want to listen to music and play recklessly. As this is a struggle for many a new volunteer here, Ajan Sompop brought forward some good advice. He suggested to understand the children instead of only focusing on teaching them. It makes us here at DEPDC remember that the children are our teachers as much as we are their’s and we must learn everything from them. As a second recent research study said when poor children may have low self-control, children’s learning attitudes may be influenced by their poor families and bad risky environments. Therefore, our children may have a bad educational attitude based on external factors. Suddenly, we recognize that we should learn understanding above all to become a good teacher.

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DEPDC has had many teachers this term, from our new international volunteers to all of our International Student Volunteers, and all have learned just as much from our students as they have taught. All of our teaching here at DEPDC is about more than just teaching a subject, it is about teaching our children to understand, and in turn, learning to understand ourselves.

Meet an International Volunteer: Yun

The International Department would like to introduce Yun, a banker became psychologist from Korea. Yun is the new long-term volunteer at DEPDC’s Swimming Home Shelter in Mae Chan. He is a certified psychologist, swimming trainer, and Korean language teacher.

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One of my favorite authors, Paulo Coelho said that “each human being has his own personal legend to be fulfilled and this is the reason he is in the world”. I strongly believe in his words, because I spent many years for finding my personal legend and realizing the meaning of my life, which I found when I met the children in the Mae Chan Swimming Home shelter. I am Yun Kwansub from South Korea. Only about a decade ago, I was an ordinary banker who had quite good salary and higher position in my work. Although I was satisfied with my life, I felt the emptiness of life somehow. After I broke up with my girlfriend, the feeling of emptiness was immense. I could not do anything else at that time. My life was getting boring, tedious and routine like a mouse in a wheel. Nothing was interesting to me. Another author, Mark Twain stressed about the life and said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” So I threw off my bowlines and sailed around the world in order to find the meaning of my life. Most of surrounding people including my family, colleagues, and acquaintances persuaded me to rethink my decision, but they could not stop me. Because I knew that is not my life at all. While I was travelling around the world, I met many different types of people whom I have never met before. They taught me how to have a flexible mindset, a different point of view to see the world from, and how to live their happy life. Through this long journey, I could find what I wanted to do and what my personal goal is. I was eager to be someone who is beneficial to the world.

I think that we have to act before we are ready sometimes. Although I have not built perfect careers to work at NGO, I am mentally ready to do it. So I decided to engage with activist NGOs instead of progressing to a master’s degree or a doctorate after I completed my bachelor’s degree in psychology. I researched many NGOs in the world for a month, only DEPDC in Thailand caught my eye. DEPDC has been in business for more than 25 years in order to prevent and to protect children and youths from being trafficked into exploitative labor conditions by providing proper education, vocational and life-skills training, and accommodation. This NGO’s achievements are remarkable. To change children’s life as well as shift the paradigm of local society is very impressive. I was sure that organization would help me to achieve my dream and learn many things from staff in DEPDC. Hence, I decided to apply to be a volunteer in DEPDC without any hesitation.

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After several long and boring days for the approval of my volunteer visa, I arrived in Chiang Rai, Thailand on 31, May in the end. I had been here once with my mother while travelling, but my attitude and mind are so different from that time. I have a stronger sense of responsibility and feel some pressure to do things well. While I was learning Thai language for a month at Chiang Rai Rajabhat University, I learned about basic Thai language, Thai culture and some political issues about the relationship between Myanmar and Thailand including migration, human trafficking, recent crime around the border region and, especially, the political issues between Myanmar and Thailand are too complicate to solve them instantly and simply. After know those issues. I highly respect and admire Khun Sompop who has dedicated the last 26 years of his life to migrated children from Myanmar to prevent human trafficking and sexual abuse. On 3 July, I came to the Mae Chan Swimming Home shelter with more concern than expectation. I was worried and stressed that I would not measure up to the task and fall short of expectations, but I recognized that these were all just unfounded concerns as soon as I met the children. When I saw their innocent faces, I felt that this is my work. What I have to and I will be able to my best for them. I am currently writing a blog post to provide news in the shelter to promote new potential cooperation and individual donations. During the day, the children go to school. When they return, I teach the children to swim and to play a music instrument, the ocarina. These activities encourage children to have a healthy level of physical and social activity and promote an active lifestyle all year long. Also, they would be able to improve their overall mood, and combat depression, anxiety and stress they have.

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I have never forgotten Khun Sompop’s words on the first day. He told me that we are like a farmer, planting seeds in the ground. Carefully and patiently nurture them, then the seeds will grow up and become a big tree naturally. Every child is an amazing seed turning into a big tree with beautiful flowers and juicy fruits. Our duty is parenting them, caring for them and observing them with strong feelings of affection and concern. As like his words, I want to be a volunteer to inspire and help my children to promote their life. For achieving the goal, I teach my children with modesty, patience and affection as a good farmer.

Meet an International Volunteer: Nicolas

The International Department would like to introduce Nicolas, a student of International Development at University College Cork in Ireland. Despite studying in Cork, Nicolas was born and raised in Dublin. He has also travelled to a wide variety of places and has spent much of his previous summer holidays at volunteer camps, both in Ireland and abroad. Through this, Nicolas has gained experience working with groups such as refugees, minorities and people with disabilities. He intends to spend five months working at DEPDC’s Swimming Home shelter and is looking forward to the return of the students and the varying tasks which that will bring.

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“Hello! My name is Nicolas, a third year (going on fourth year) student of International Development and Food Policy. When I finish this course, I intend to further my studies, focusing on the areas of international law, human rights and/or anthropology in the hopes of working in a job which deals with one, or all of these topics. Currently, I am on my third year work placement. DEPDC seemed like the best possible choice for this as the organisation works to protect vulnerable children and adults from human trafficking and forced labour through education and vocational training. Many of these people come from Thailand’s Hill tribes, so the five months which I am spending in the Mae Chan Swimming Home shelter will prove both beneficial and informative.”

“Seeing as the majority of children have yet to return, and will likely do so in the early days of next month, most of our current duties involve fundraising. As part of this, our first official job involved the design and manufacturing of posters and flyers for English lessons, which we remain ready to give. At present, we are in charge of updating and maintaining the shelter’s social media presence. This includes, managing the shelter’s Facebook account and writing blogs regarding day to day life at the shelter. We have also taken to our own social media profiles to promote and fund raise for DEPDC.”

Meet an International Volunteer: Kamile

The International Department would like to introduce Kamile. Kamile is a 3rd year International Development and Food Policy student from University College Cork in Ireland. As part of her degree, she will be spending the next few months at the Swimming home in Mae Chan. In Ireland, she enjoyed volunteer work such as teaching non- Irish nationals English and helping school students with their homework.  Since arriving at the site, Kamile has been researching potential funders, updating MRICRH social media accounts and reading up on DEPDC’s work.

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“I have been interested in human rights for as long as I can remember. I have always been concerned about what is fair and what is not. However, this interest significantly heightened when, at the age of 13, I moved from the small Eastern European country of Lithuania, where I was born and raised, to Ireland. I consider Ireland my home now, but it was not always that way. The first couple of years I struggled communicating while in school in most situations that required me to communicate in English. Even though I was surrounded by the language and studied it myself everyday, it was a very gradual process and so many times I felt helpless, like I had no voice and my opinion did not matter. The truth is, my opinion did matter, I just could not physically express it. It got me to realise that I was lucky, all that was holding me back was a language, which I was improving everyday in. It got me thinking about the people whose basic rights are not being upheld, they must feel helpless also, and oftentimes they cannot do anything about it. Their voice does not matter to those taking advantage of them and not respecting human rights.”

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“When it came to choosing my college degree after finishing school, there was no doubt in my mind I wanted to do something that will enable me to help others and that is why I chose to study International Development. The degree allows those studying it to spend 5 months working in an NGO and since the very start, I knew that DEPDC is where I wanted to be.”

“I am not even halfway through my time here but I have already learnt so much about the organisation, the country, and its culture. Being here is a life changing experience that has allowed me to break free from my usual stressful and busy daily routine, thus enabling me to re-evaluate my priorities.”

“I am looking forward to getting to know the children that live in the Swimming Home during the school year once they are back from the summer holidays shortly!”

A Look into the Swimming Home by our two new volunteers

Hello, we are students from Ireland. Currently we are on our university work placement with DEPDC. The next five months will be spent working at the organisation’s “Swimming Home” shelter in Mae Chan. This shelter provides accommodation to a number of at risk children, as well as swimming and English lessons. They also provide the necessities to attend the local school.

The centre also offers these swimming lesson to local children. Affordable English lessons, taught by volunteers are available to the public. We are currently working on flyers and posters to advertise the English courses and will start teaching in just over a week’s time.

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At present, it is the summer holidays, so most of our duties involve fundraising and preparing the public English lessons, however our responsibilities will alter once the children return in a few week’s time.

There are only two boys staying at the swimming home right now as unlike the other children who live in the centre during the school year, they have no family to take care of them during their holidays. We spent a few days playing with them and getting to know them better. Having done so, it is safe to say that they are kids just like any other and crave the same things – attention and affection.

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A few days ago, we visited the Ban Klang Na shelter, which provides women and families at risk accommodation and teaches them sustainable living by providing them with agricultural inputs such as land and seeds so they can grow crops. The living conditions there are very basic but they have everything they need; a safe place to live and food. It is located in quite an isolated area in order to protect the women, as many of them come from a human trafficking background.

Overall, the last week, even though quiet, was very helpful in helping us gain a better understanding of the human trafficking issues prevalent in the Northern part of the country, how it affects people and how DEPDC assists these individuals in accessing the tools for a better future.

Human Rights Day

Human rights are today enshrined in international law. They’re no longer restricted to people with status and wealth, and have been designed to provide protection for everyone, especially the world’s most vulnerable people, namely women and children. However, we all know that the world isn’t a perfect place, and there are many issues which undermine the human rights that the people of the world have won.

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Poverty is a major issue. It creates environments in which crime, corruption and desperation can thrive. Impoverished people find themselves in positions where they feel that to survive they have to violate the rights of their fellow human beings, while others feel that to survive they have to accept that their rights are going to be violated.

Poverty is a core issue which has downstream effects on other issues as well. It can sharpen class divides, provoke and escalate animosities between people and groups, and encourage people to do what they must to get by, often with the consequence that women and children are viewed and treated as commodities to be used for the family’s financial benefit. This, of course, is largely the cause of human and child trafficking in the Greater Mekong Subregion and around the world.

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We all condemn actions which threaten and curtail human rights. But only by understanding the dynamics which generate these issues can we hope to address and eliminate them. Fortunately, DEPDC/GMS’s founder, Khun Sompop, realised 25 years ago, as others have also noted around the world, that education as a source of personal and community development and empowerment is the key to addressing poverty and eliminating the threats to human rights which it produces.

Our daughters and sons come to a safe place to learn, eat, play and grow. They gain the knowledge of history, science, maths, and language that they need to be informed citizens of the world. They practice the life skills that will enable them to look after themselves and live independently and self-sufficiently, such as cooking, understanding nutrition, sewing, building and repairs around the house. And they learn that they are all members of the same human race, equally entitled to the same rights and opportunities as each other. This is extremely important for all of our children, especially our young daughters.

Training the youth leaders of tomorrow

Bit by bit, day by day, child by child, this is how human rights are defended for the future. We couldn’t be prouder of our history of standing up for human rights, and we invite you to join us on the journey. If you’ve ever considered getting involved and volunteering, please don’t hesitate to visit the volunteer information page on our blog and get in touch. We always love having more members in our international family, and your help will go further than you can imagine. Or if you can’t volunteer but feel like you’d like to make a contribution, please visit our GlobalGiving donations page here to pick which of our programs you’d like to contribute to, like our sustainable agriculture project or our lunch program. Thank you for reading and for keeping up with what’s going on at DEPDC/GMS, just keeping aware makes a meaningful difference.

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