A Farewell to New Friends

A (Temporary) Farewell to New Friends & Teachers from Ngee Ann Polytechnic

Students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Youth Expedition Project (YEP) returned to Singapore today after a two week stay at DEPDC/GMS’s Coordination Centre and Half Day School in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, Thailand.

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Last Photos and Goodbyes

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Twenty-seven students and their three team leaders spent the last 14 days renovating the Patak Half Day School, teaching English in individualized groups, and leading team and character building exercises. These were tasks undoubtedly expected when they signed up to spend their Spring break volunteering abroad. They most likely did not expect to bond so quickly to other youths from Mae Sai, Thailand and Shan State, Myanmar. In the final hours of their journey, it was evident that meaningful relationships had been formed and a farewell would not be welcomed nor easy for YEP volunteers and the Half Day School and SYSTERM students. Many shared contact information, hugs, and tears as they said goodbye to their new friends early this morning.

But during this time, it is important to remember the last week of their journey and the many ways in which they taught and learned from the many youth attending DEPDC/GMS’s program.

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Last Saturday, YEP and SYSTERM students visited the Hall of Opium Museum in the Golden Triangle National Park. Here they learned about the history of the Golden Triangle, the opium war, drug trafficking, the fight against opium and poppy growing, and the steps taken to improve the living conditions of the ethnic minority groups who lived in this world famous drug trafficking region. The students enjoyed the opportunity explore outside the DEPDC/GMS Centre and to learn alongside their peers.

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On Monday, YEP students organized a community celebration to mark the end of their journey. The students were able to share their culture’s mutual love for the culinary and performance arts. SYSTERM, Half Day School, and YEP students performed traditional dances and sung songs which they felt represented their nation and/or state. Each group cooked a dessert and savory dish or two that allowed the students to taste something unique from their new friends’ world.

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As always, thank you for your time reading our update! We are excited to see what the future holds with our new friends from Ngee Ann Polytechnic and invite you to join us as well in our mission to combat human trafficking along the Thai-Myanmar border in Northern Thailand.

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Dear YEP Leaders and Students:

On behalf of the entire DEPDC/GMS team, SYSTERM and Half Day School students,thank you for the many hours of planning and hard work, but most importantly, thank you for your sincere generosity and willingness to open your minds and hearts to the youth at DEPDC/GMS.

We hope to see some familiar faces during NAP’s next Youth Expedition Project in September or on your own volunteer trips. Until we meet again, we wish you the best of luck on the road through your academic and life journey. Remember that you always have a home in Mae Sai, Thailand and in the hearts of those you touched during your 2018 Youth Expedition Project.                   

                                                                              

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Support DEPDC/GMS’s mission to prevent human trafficking and other forms of exploitation of ethnic minority groups who live along the Thai-Myanmar border through online donations or volunteering. Donations can be given using PayPal, Global Giving, and other tax deductible methods. Email the International Department at depdc.gms@gmail.com with any inquiries.

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Helping Hands from Singapore’s Ngee Ann Polytechnic

DEPDC/GMS is pleased to be hosting Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Youth Expedition Project (YEP) at the Coordination Centre and Half Day School in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, Thailand.

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These bright and resourceful students have come all the way from Singapore to lend a helping hand and share their technical skills with the children and youth of DEPDC/GMS. In exchange, youth members of SYSTERM shared their own knowledge and experience to their new friends about the way of life for the people of Shan State, Myanmar.

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The Half Day School students completed final exams last week for the 2017-2018 school year. However, the HDS students with some additional children from the community continue to come to school each day to join in character, skill, and team building exercises led by 27 skilled students and their 3 professors who are participating in the Youth Expedition Project (YEP), an international service-learning program from Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

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The Shan Youth Safety Training to End Risk Migration (SYSTERM) program is also partaking in these exercises as well as specific training catered to their specific field of interest. SYSTERM has four major groups: 1) Culinary Studies 2) IT and Media Production 3) Agriculture and 4) Fine Arts and Culture. Later this week, YEP members with specialties in media will train leaders of the IT and Media Production club how to design, create, and manage a personal website using a WIX platform.

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This weekend, SYSTERM gave a presentation on Shan State. YEP students were able to learn about the Shan people and their many unique traditions. They also learned about the history of Shan State and the current challenges the Shan people are facing as they struggle to keep their livelihood and culture alive amidst armed conflict in Myanmar where many ethnic groups are oppressed and exploited.

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Yesterday, YEP students organized a variety of skill and team building exercises which the HDS students, community children, and SYSTERM members completed in mixed groups. YEP, SYSTERM, and HDS students are gliding through the many present language and cultural barriers with ease and developing as many new friendships as they are skills.

Additionally, some of the Half Day School students with special needs are receiving one-on-one attention from YEP students studying for a diploma in Child Psychology & Early Education (CPEE) and Early Childhood Education(ECH).

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Thank you for your time reading our update! We are excited to see what the future holds with DEPDC/GMS’s new friends from Ngee Ann Polytechnic! Additionally, I look forward to updating you on SYSTERM’s journey through their six months of intensive training to prevent human trafficking in the many years to come!

Support DEPDC/GMS’s mission to prevent human trafficking and other forms of exploitation of ethnic minority groups who live along the Thai-Myanmar border with online donations. Donations can be given using PayPal, Global Giving, and other tax deductible methods. Email the International Department at depdc.gms@gmail.com with any inquiries.
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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).

Peter’s International Volunteer Experience

Peter’s International Volunteer Experience

The following is a review written by Peter, a former International Volunteer of DEPDC/GMS, who dedicated six months to working with children and youth at-risk of being trafficked into exploitative labour conditions, most notably the sex-industry:

“Let me start by saying that this is a great place to volunteer.

The administrative director, P’Noom (Somporn Khempetch), who was also named one of the 100 women of the year 2017 by the BBC, was my main contact while I was in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai. She helped me not only with getting started, but also with questions I had in day-to-day living in a new country. Other staff members tried to engage in conversation with me, despite that there is a bit of a language barrier.

The work I did consisted not only of teaching English to children aged 4-19 during the day, but also impoverished adults and high school students who wanted to expand their knowledge. Besides teaching, I got a chance to develop my administrative and writing skills. I helped write project proposals, maintained the social media profiles, conducted volunteer application interviews, and gave presentations about the organisation to visiting programs. These extra tasks prevented the time there from becoming monotonous, especially when I also got the chance to join the director and staff on training sessions and school outings. The director is also open in letting the volunteers offer an additional class if a person has such a specific class they would like to teach.

The staff is very friendly and caring. You can see that they all take that extra step to help not only the children, but also the volunteers. This is also noticeable in the vegetarian food they serve at the school and then supply the most impoverished of the children the leftovers and donated food.

The city is a great and safe place to be. Some people might look at you in amazement when you go into the rural areas, but it is always friendly. You can go and travel around by night and pop into a 7/11 for some food and nobody will bother you. I enjoyed the surrounding nature and after buying a cheap scooter I was able to explore it even further. I drank coffee from a mountain village where it was produced and met friends for life in a coffee place on Namon road. Unfortunately, I had to stop a month earlier than expected due to my career progressing in the time that I had spent there. I would say go and apply and have an experience you’ll never forget.”

– Peter, An International Volunteer

Thank you, Peter, for your generosity! We are grateful for the time you dedicated to helping the children of the Patak Half Day School and raising awareness of DEPDC/GMS’s mission! You are dearly missed by all the children and staff! Best wishes to you in your doctorate studies.

Peter with students

Considering volunteering in 2018? Want to work with at-risk children and youth in Thailand and combat human trafficking through prevention and education? We are looking for people like you. Send an International Volunteer Application to the International Department of DEPDC/GMS: depdc.gms@gmail.com. We welcome further inquiries prior to submitting applications for volunteering or interning with DEPDC/GMS.

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

Learn about our new project to protect stateless migrants from human-trafficking, Shan Youth Safety Training to End Risk Migration (SYSTERM).

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.

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 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

 

 

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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Beginning of the rainy season

As some of you all know, two weeks ago the rainy season has started. And that means, you’ve guessed it, rain.  After months with lots of sun and heat, the rain is welcomed like an old friend. The temperature is going down during the rain, but after it quickly rises again. The storm blows away the smoke that accumulates in this valley, which you can notice in the behavior of the children. They are more active and the boys are more active in playing football outside.1495696953405

The rain unfortunately also comes to show the repairs that needed to be done. During the first storm a tree fall down and took down a phone pole, fortunately it was quickly repaired by some local volunteers.  However the rain in the next days showed the holes in parts of the roof. Fortunately the holes aren’t located in a classroom, but it is causing a lot of water in the corridors. As can be seen in the pictures, the rain really pours down.  Repairs are needed; however this unfortunately does cost money. That is why we reach out to you all, our trusted readers and donators, in hope you will help repair the roof with your donations.1495696956281

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