On Friday, January 13th, we celebrated National Children’s Day (Wan Dek) in Thailand at DEPDC Mae Sai. Everyone had a great and enjoyable day with lots of funny games and joyful performances, and marvelous gifts. Below photos are a brief description of how we spent the day. Before staring the children’s day celebration, everyone prepared a small gift, marked number on them, and exchange them later in the day. Students played all sorts of games, drew numbers in order to win prizes, and ate lots of sweets. Many of the children performed dances, sang lovely songs for everyone. Thanks to International university volunteers, we had various events, games and performances and lot of gifts for our children. A fun time was had by all, especially our students, as you can see in our photos!
Children’s Day is not simple a day to celebrate children for who they are, but also to bring awareness to children around the world that have succumbed to violence in forms of conflict, violence, abuse, human trafficking, child prostitution, exploitation and discrimination. In Thailand, every year has a different motto for celebrating children’s day, and the motto for 2017 Children’s Day is “Thai Children who pay attention to study, will bring about national stability.” As this year’s motto, the entire staffs of DEPDC are doing our best for teaching children well and preventing them from human trafficking and children abuse.
Danny DeBlasio and Catherine Hart, cofounders of The YALL Art Project came to DEPDC/GMS in the last week and start their project from this week. The YALL Art Project is a non-profit organization that brings a collaborative art process in photography and mural painting to communities in need of the arts. (More information and donation about The YALL Art Project )
They are teaching and guiding our students taking photographs and ends with a collective mural inspired by their images for six weeks. Each student will be given their own camera and guided through a series of exercises. After the group of students will be challenged to collaborate on a mural inspired by the learning from their photographs. Not only we are highly looking forward to see our marvelous artistic achievement, but also we are expecting our students to find their authentic voice and individual self-expression as well as to know each other’s voices, perspectives, and ideas.
Please check out their first Video clip
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The newest development at DEPDC’s Half Day School (HDS) is Tai Yai language lessons on Friday afternoons. Thanks to the new cooperation between DEPDC and the Tai Origin Network (TON) HDS can now offer regular Tai Yai language classes on two different levels every week.
This school year children from seven different ethnic group visit HDS. This are Tai Yai, Tai Lue, Akha, Tai Khün, Burmese, Thai, and Lawa. Currently the biggest group at our school are students from the Tai Yai group. They make up for nearly 50% of our current students.
The Tai Yai, in Myanmar often called Shan, are the biggest ethnic group in Myanmar’s Shan State and many refugees and labor migrants along the Thai side of the border belong to this ethnic group as well. Tai Yai people have their own language and script and as language is an important part of ones culture and origin there are increasing efforts to promote the language in all situations of live.
Tai Khün and Tai Lue language are closely related to Tai Yai language and together this three groups stand for more than ⅔ of HDS current students. For this reason we were very happy when two teachers from TON offered to come to visit HDS ever Friday afternoon to teach Tai Yai language to our students. This classes include spoken and written language. DEPDC believes that literacy in the students own language is a valuable addition to literacy in Thai and some cases Burmese language.
Everyone at DEPDC/GMS would like to extend a warm thank you to the ladies and gentlemen of International Student Volunteers (ISV) who, earlier this year, worked so diligently to remodel the kindergarten, and organized so many activities for the children at DEPDC/GMS. You did a fantastic job and everyone still fondly remembers the spirit you brought to all of us. Let’s hear from Kyle, one of the volunteers, about the volunteers’ experiences while at DEPDC/GMS!
“This summer, our group of fourteen volunteers and our team leader Carole Ketnourath, dedicated our time to help DEPDC/GMS remodel their kindergarten building as well as aiding the longterm volunteers and staff in teaching the children English, life skills, and teamwork through sports and games.
“When signing up as volunteers, we understood that we would be challenged physically, due to the labor that was needed at the center. However, we did not know to what extent our emotions would be challenged, too, as we learned about human trafficking and caught a glimpse of the difficult circumstances under which many children in the region grow up.
“Our daily tasks varied from labor to having direct interaction with the kids. First, we scraped off the old paint off the kindergarten building and took down its old tiles. Next, we painted the building’s exterior, before we decorated the new tiles in a garden theme.
“All the tiring work was quickly forgotten when we would teach English to the children or created arts and crafts with them. We also held two field days with all grade levels, where we played a wide variety of games and created special activities for the kids.
“Doing all this in two weeks was an extremely rewarding experience for all of us and my fellow ISV group member, Kelsey, summed up our group’s sentiments when she said
“There is no way I could have ever imagined how much I’d learn and do in such a short period of time. These children, along with the staff who left me with invaluable knowledge of the issues of trafficking and community development, have reminded me to never give up my dreams of improving the lives of those around me.”
“In helping DEPDC/GMS, we knew that we did our part to help prevent these children from falling victim to exploitation by human traffickers.
“I would like to use this opportunity to also highlight the work that another ISV group did before we arrived. They did a great job of painting the interior walls with many visually stimulating images. The ‘new’ kindergarten at DEPDC/GMS is thus a collaborative effort of our two groups.
“Being able to see the children smile and blissfully play with one another even on a rainy day, made the hard work all the more enjoyable and rewarding. This is what my fellow group member Erica had to say:
“We came willing to do whatever ISV and DEPDC/GMS wanted us to do. However, after getting to know the children, and seeing how happy they were to have us there, the project became much more personal. I believe the other volunteers will agree when I say that we came to really care about the children and wanted to give them a beautiful place where the kindergarteners would have a space to learn for years to come. I believe we succeeded.”
“After our two weeks of hard work and teaching the kids, I feel that we have made a positive impact on DEPDC/GMS and the students there, yet at the same time, the children and staff have made a huge impact on our group as well. Through the children’s smiles and willingness to learn and the staff’s genuine desire to help the children, I feel that our group has learned a lot about the kindness and dedication in human nature. On behalf of the two ISV summer groups, I give a huge ‘Thank you’ to DEPDC/GMS for letting us come and help them and be a part of something that contributes to the goodness in this world.”
The children and staff at DEPDC/GMS would like to thank both visiting ISV groups for your hard work and dedication and for your creativity and joyousness! We all greatly enjoyed your visits. The kids miss you and send their hellos!
DEPDC/GMS recruits international volunteers who would like to work in human trafficking prevention in northern Thailand. Click here to find out more!