Category Archives: Volunteers
Volunteering at DEPDC can be very rewarding for the volunteer, DEDPC staff and the children. Volunteers are always welcome at our main DEPDC site in Mae Sai or our other centre in Chiang Kong. We have had volunteers from America, Canada, Europe and Japan and some have stayed for up to 3 years. There are approximately six foreign volunteers at any one time here who stay for 6 months or more.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our third group of International Student Volunteers all kindly shared their thoughts, and photos, from the past two weeks that they spent with us here at HDS.
“I am so excited for the time I spent with the staff and kids at DEPDC. The staff here have shown me what it’s like to love unconditionally and the kids have reminded me to smile despite what goes on around us. Being here has also made me more aware of the issues with human trafficking and it has given me a new perspective on life.” -Lianne
“My experience with ISV at DEPDC has opened my eyes to see the real issues that are happening outside of what I learn from social media or a textbook. The children at DEPDC have taught me to be thankful for the simple things. Seeing them smile warms my heart.” -Lavinia
“ISV gave me a brand new perspective on human trafficking and showed me how rewarding global giving can be. I will never forget the staff, the teachers and the children (who are teachers too!). This was an incredible experience and I would recommend it to anyone who has a wild desire to make a change because you will surely make a difference being a part of this community.” -Anna
“My time here at DEPDC with ISV has been life altering. It has opened my eyes to the global issue of human trafficking. This center and the staff are doing incredible work through prevention and protection of these at-risk children. I have fallen in love with the center, their work and most of all the amazing children. I cannot begin to express how truly grateful I am for my time here.” -Becca
“This experience was life changing. The kids are thriving in this program. The goal of prevention and protection I believe is achieved. The teachers and staff make this center a home and safe place for the kids to be themselves. Thank you for everything.” -Jean
“This experience has made me more aware of the struggles so many young children go through on a day to day basis. I am so glad and grateful I had the opportunity to meet such extraordinary kids who love to learn!” -Kim
“I will never be able to express how grateful I am to have had this opportunity. Being here has opened my eyes to the horrible daily struggles facing so many children worldwide; problems I never would have dreamed of experiencing as a child. We are all human brings and it is essential that we act like it- that we treat each other with humanity; these children deserve it” -Rachel
“Getting to teach and play with the kids at DEPDC was a truly life changing experience! I came thinking I would teach them so much, but they taught me ever more! Those precious children will be in my heart forever!” -Lizzie
“I have learned a lot more than I expected to through the last two weeks. I came here to help these kids, but I got help from them. They smile unbelievably beautifully. They are unbelievably nice to each other. It was such an amazing experience to learn how I can appreciate every moment in my life. I could smile because of them, and I was happy to give them some reason to smile too. I also learned how I can make a difference for a better global society by sharing our thoughts about this society, environment and every aspect in life. I hope these kids grow up beautifully as they are now.” -Grace
As the second group of volunteers from ISV (International Student Volunteers) have finished up their time with us here at DEPDC, we asked a few of them to share their thoughts about the two weeks they have spent with us.
“This school is incredibly inspiring and gives children the opportunity to learn important life skills, as well as the ability to interact with volunteers from around the world. I have had a memorable experience here and would love to come back. The children are smart, kind, and respectful. I appreciate everything DEPDC has to offer!” -Kylea Sheilds
“DEPDC changed my life. I am a new person, in a great way; 12/10 would recommend.” -Claire
“DEPDC has been an eye opening, soul-touching, body rockin’ experience. If you ever have the chance to do it, don’t pass up this amazing opportunity.” -Cara Wilson
“I have truly had the most incredible and inspiring experience being at DEPDC. I’ve learned so much from the center and the kids, I am forever grateful.” -Nia Wahl
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.
“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.”
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.
“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.”
“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!”
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.
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.
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.
The International Department would like to introduce Francesca. She joined our organization this past month. Francesca is from Massachusetts, USA and is a recent graduate in International Studies and Business from Muhlenberg College. She has taken the year off from beginning her career search in order to explore the world and herself. Francesca has had previous experiences volunteering in South East Asia with children and is looking forward to the new opportunities DEPDC/GMS will bring her. During her first few weeks in Mae Sai, Francesca has worked on writing grant proposals, managing social media accounts, and started teaching dance classes. She is eager to have the new term begin and to see how she can further help DEPDC/GMS to grow, and how the DEPDC/GMS can help her grow.
“My college career had been focused through lenses on human issues. Though my studies began as a pre-medical student, that evolved into overall human issues and looking for ways to help those who did not necessarily have the abilities to help themselves due to their given circumstances. Throughout my studies I have explored issues of black-market economics, the issues of trafficking, as well as women and children’s rights, and the international laws that are being made to prevent these situations. When I was in my junior year I had the opportunity to live abroad and decided at that point that I would live abroad at some point after graduation. Once I saw the opportunity DEPDC/GMS offered I knew this was where I wanted to be.
“As soon as I found and began looking into DEPDC/GMS, I knew that it was a good fit for my interests. I was excited by the idea of volunteering at an organization that has played a hands-on role in preventing sex trafficking and other forms of exploitative labor, and would allow me to do the same. I also have seen the benefits of prevention through education and was intrigued by the possibility that I could be one of those people to truly make a difference in someone’s life.
I am very eager to have the opportunity to contribute to DEPDC/GMS and learn from the organization and staff here. I love working with the few students who are here during the term break and cannot wait until school is back in session. I am excited to continue to get to know my coworkers, the village and Mae Sai, and work towards achieving as much as possible for DEPDC/GMS over the next coming months!”
I am Mr. Aik Loung Hseng, originally from Keng Tung, Eastern Shan State, Union of Myanmar. I am studying at Rangsit University’s, department of the “Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies (IDIS)”, majoring in “International Relations and Development (IRD)”. I have been doing my internship here at DEPDC/GMS for over one month. I will be here until the end of April to complete my three month internship for my Bachelor Degree.
I travel across the Thai-Burma border at Mae Sai-Tachileik very often but I didn’t know that there is such a good organization like DEPDC working on preventing human trafficking and providing education for migrant children and children who have family problems, their parents separated, and some don’t have enough money to send them to school. Until one day when I was at university and started research on the internet for an organization in Mae Sai that accepts volunteers. I found the DEPDC Blog, and I became really interested to volunteering here. I was especially interested in the program that teaches children at the Half Day School in the morning and working in the office in the afternoon. So I applied and I was lucky to get a chance to do my internship here.
I really like working here at DEPDC/GMS because I have met such nice, kind, lovely and friendly staff, teachers, and students. And I am so happy to see children have a chance to study, even though they are migrant children and some of them don’t have an ID Card. Normally, these kinds of children face difficulties in having opportunities to study because many schools will not easily accept them. It’s a good opportunity for children to have a center or school like DEPDC. It’s a place that can change the children’s future for the better. Some people have asked me, “If you want to help your people why do you go to do it in Thailand, why not in Myanmar?”. I told them that the organization where I work now, even though it’s located in Thailand, most of the students have heritage from the Shan State who migrate to Thailand and some of them come directly from the Myanmar side to the school every day. So working here can not only help Myanmar migrant children but also can help Thai children too.
My job as an intern here is to help the director of administration, help with the agriculture project in the evening, repair the building in my free time, sometimes help the international department teach English at the Half Day School, write reports to donors, attend meetings, and help the Half Day School if there is work. I have learnt a lot and gained many new experiences from doing my internship at DEPDC/GMS.