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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Education is the key

Last week we had many special educational activities and classes for our children.

Aside from our regular classes, our children have creative and special classes such as creating and playing musical instruments and art & drawing classes. Each of these unique classes aimed to inspire their creative entitlement and help creating an emotional rounded person with a deeper sense of identity. As this organization aims to prevent children to fall victim of sex-traffickers, it is important to talk about this subject. This starts with basic understanding of another subject that we have to teach, namely ‘Sexual and reproductive health’.

  • Sexual and reproductive health

A specialized organization came to teach sexual and reproductive health education. The sexuality education class taught our students the names of the sexual parts of the body and bodily functions in order to help them to communicate more clearly and thus contributes to their safety and wellbeing. But also more difficult subjects have been discussed, such as intimate relationships, sexual orientation, abstinence and contraception. And most important, the children were thought reproductive rights and responsibilities, to help prevent and reduce the risks of adolescent pregnancy, HIV, and sexually transmitted infections. Hence, ultimately they will be able to protect themselves from human trafficking in Greater Mekong Region.

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  • Music class with Khlui

Since our children got their own traditional Thai bamboo flute, the Khlui, they have learned note reading and finger placement. So they are able to not only make beautiful sounds, but also play simple music completely. As they found their own voices and practice it patiently, we will soon hear beautiful traditional Khlui songs.

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  • Art & drawing Class

The photograph class finished successfully and we are so proud of the amazing accomplishments and grateful for the amazing volunteer teachers. Through their camera lenses, they would understand their worlds, its people and they have learned how to communicate this to the outside world through a different form of communication. After the photograph class, our children have started the mural painting of some of their pictures. The students will select their favorite photos and paint on the wall their own story and view.

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Check out the below video clip how they made great photos.


Kahlil Gibran, Lebanese artist, philosopher and writer said that education is a bow, and child is a living arrow which can be sent forth. We have a strong faith in that our education will decide a major part of our children’s future lives and their quality of happiness. Education is the key to prevent human trafficking and it can cut the link of poverty in this generation. Therefore, as the archer, we will target at the path of infinite, shot our precious arrows to go swift and far, and admire the trajectory of arrow silently and patiently.

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An ordinary day at the Swimming Home

This might sound a bit boring at first, but for many of you, this is something you do not know much about. What does the children at the Swimming Home do everyday? When do they start their day? When do they come home after school? What sort of activities do they do? Do they have any daily duties? Here is your answer!

P’Kwaang wakes up the children at 6 am every school day. It is then time to get ready for school, while some of the older children might do some agricultural work. Some of the children help P’Kwaang in the kitchen preparing breakfast. When all this is done, they can enjoy a self made breakfast after their morning showers. As most children and youths, they have to be rushed to school even though they wake up two hours before it starts.12422483_10153686900287419_1641766249_o

They are back from school around 4 pm every day. At this time of year, they get an hour be themselves before they join the English activity group at 5 pm. Normally, they have a swimming lesson with P’Kwaang every afternoon after school. They learn how to swim properly, they get to play around in the water and feel the healing power of water surrounding them. During this cold season, it is too cold for the children to participate, so we hope the weather gets a bit warmer again soon.20150805_161250 - Copy

The English activity group consists of games and songs, trying to make it more fun to learn English. There are some writing activities as well, to make them remember the vocabulary better. They are all gathered in one group, which makes the range of levels quite big. The older kids are of big help looking after the youngest and helping them do the different activities. They serve almost like substitute teachers.

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After the English activity group, they have some time to do what they wish. The youngest prefer playing around, pretending to be superheroes or play football. The youth spend a lot of time reading.20150909_185643

Their homework is done both before and after dinner, depending on the workload. As with breakfast, some of the children help out in the kitchen to make dinner. All of this fills up the day, it is not much time left.  All that needs to be done is to take a shower and go to bed around 9 pm. Is it much different from what you would expect?

Meet an International Volunteer: Katie!

The International Department would like to introduce Katie, who joined us the beginning of December 2015. Katie is a Sociology and Anthropology major from the University of Oregon. She spent years working with NGO’s in her home state specializing in the areas of drug and alcohol dependency and mental health. She lived and taught English in South Korea for four years and now owns a Yoga studio in Oregon, USA that she opened 18 months ago.  She is excited to support the mission of DEPDC through her non-profit, ESL teaching, and yoga teaching experiences. During her first months in Mae Sai, Katie has been busy starting an after school yoga program for the HDS students, teaching morning English classes, co-writing reports to donors, and managing the social media accounts.

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“University was my first exposure to the social issue of human trafficking. Some years ago I set out on an extensive backpacking trip through SE Asia where I became even more aware of the large scale atrocities committed by this injustice. It was then that I began research into organizations that work on behalf of victims and at-risk persons. DEPDC/GMS was first on that search list. After reading through their website and gaining further information on their methods of prevention I knew this was the perfect place to volunteer.”

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“My background has provided me with many resources that I hope to offer during my time here at DEPDC. I am honored for the opportunity to be a part of the DEPDC team. The work they do, the possibilities they provide and the mission they are committed to continues to inspire me. I have only been here a short while but already I can see that the staff and students will be teaching me much more than I could ever hope to teach them.

If you would like to find out more about volunteering with the Development and Education Programme for Daughters and Communities Centre in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (DEPDC / GMS), please see the information within the main VOLUNTEER tab and on the drop-down Opportunity tabs.

Happy International Mother Language Day 2015!

On Saturday the 21st of February UNESCO celebrates its 15th International Mother Language Day. This commemoration day was introduced by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in November 1999 “promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism”.

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The 21st of February was chosen for this commemoration day because it represents the anniversary of the killing of Bengali student protesters in Dhaka, Pakistan (today Bangladesh), in 1952. They were demonstrating for the right to read, write, and speak their mother tongue, Bangla, when they got shot by the police.

The right to use ones own mother tongue is a fundamental right and of high importance for a community as it is closely connected with its life, history, culture, and identity.

Northern Thailand is language-wise highly heterogeneous. Next to Thailand’s national language Thai, Kham Mueang (the everyday language of Northern Thailand ) is the most important one, but there are as many different languages as ethnic minorities. These languages belong to various language families like; Tai-Kadai, Tibeto-Burman, Miao-Yao, and Mon-Khmer.

At the moment DEPDC’s Half Day School (HDS) serves students from four different linguistic backgrounds. HDS has students speaking Thai Lue, Thai Yai, Akha, and Burmese. These minority languages are still widely spoken in their communities and are often the first language our students learn in their life.

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At the time students enter HDS they cover a wide range of ages and Thai language skills, making it impossible to allocate the students into classes according to their age. For this reason classes at HDS are shaped according to the students’ Thai language skills, which makes the classes even more diverse, but gives the students a chance to learn at an appropriate level for each individual.

In some terms HDS offers additional Burmese language classes for our students to give them at least a basic literacy in Myanmar’s national language.

BirmanischBirmanischThe teaching staff of HDS consists of Thai, Thai Yai, Thai Lue, Akha, and English native speakers and offers support for our students in their native language.

A New Wall for the English Classroom !

There were some delightful changes in the English classroom over the summer break at the Half Day School in Mae Sai. Eléa, an International Volunteer from France, took on a redesign of the English classroom wall as an extra project. 28 tins of paint, over 100 hours of work, 5 paintbrushes, a pair of headphones dropped in fresh paint, and 6 ruined t-shirts later… And the results are in!

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With the help of Aaron and Matthew, two other International Volunteers at DEPDC/GMS in Mae Sai,  Eléa sanded the wall and put on a few undercoats. But it wasn’t until the children went away for the summer break that she started painting, finally finishing the last details just in time for their return to school.

The wall integrates an interactive board that the students can use to build sentences with the help of Velcro bands. Banks of words are also included in the design to help students to remember important vocabulary and improve their comprehension of the English language.

Most of our Half Day School students come from difficult backgrounds. Their school environment is like a second home, so it is important that we provide an inviting and caring atmosphere in the classrooms where our children learn and grow. Eléa hopes that the new wall can contribute to this aim. She further comments:

“It is always good to expand our educational resources to provide our teachers with innovative tools and to help our students make progress. I am very happy with the result and I hope that everyone at the Half Day School has a productive and fun time with it!”

Details of the wall

Half Day School Graduation Day in Mae Sai

Graduation day at the Half Day School in Mae Sai is a celebration of our students’ achievements and marks the beginning of a new journey for many of them. Since 1989, DEPDC/GMS has focused on prevention against human trafficking by providing free education to children at-risk of being trafficked or children whose families cannot afford school fees. For all the teachers and volunteers at the Half Day School (HDS), it means a lot to see these students complete 7 years education with us. They now have the necessary resources to become more independent and to stay safe in the future. 

DEPDC/GMS wants to congratulate our fairly small but incredibly intelligent class of 2014! The school year ended last Friday for all students, and yesterday we were proud to honour nine graduates from our Half Day School (HDS) program. The graduates were very happy to complete their education at the Half Day School, though they also felt a little sad to leave their friends.

This year for graduation day, parents of all the G6 class students were invited to spend the morning celebrating their children’s success. Some of the other HDS students performed traditional dances for the graduating students, while gifts and snacks were distributed among all the children who were cheering for their peers.

The graduation ceremony took place in the main hall, where the stage had been decorated with balloons and festive banners. A speech was given by some of the HDS teachers to congratulate and encourage all students who worked hard  at school this past year. After many kind words, all HDS teachers and volunteers as well as the parents came up on stage and sat in a circle around the students. Teachers and parents tied up a bracelet around each student’s wrist while congratulating them and wishing them the best of luck in the future.

Our G6 students were then covered in small gifts, such as necklaces, sweets, flowers, snacks, drawings, cards… And everyone hugged each other as we said good bye. We are proud of all of our students and recent graduates at the Half Day School, and we cannot wait for the return of our students in May! From all of the staff and volunteers at DEPDC/GMS in Mae Sai, we wish the best of luck to our graduating class of 2014 – “chok dii na kha!”

Our G6 students of 2014 and Kruu Somboon, one of the HDS teachers
Our G6 students of 2014 and Kruu Somboon, one of the Half Day School teachers

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