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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Seeds for Change and the Gift of Rice

Seeds for Change and the Gift of Rice

Sharon Moreau, BSN, RN, CPN, a nurse from Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas, USA, came to visit DEPDC/GMS for two weeks to assist with the Patak Half Day School and SYSTERM program. During her visit, she provided assistance teaching English classes, donated 300 kilograms of rice, and taught lifesaving skills to over 85 children and youth. DEPDC/GMS would like to offer a special thank you to Sharon for her kindness and inspirational words. The following is an article written by Sharon Moreau:

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Sharon smiling as she helps push 300 kg of white rice.

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Arriving as a visitor to Development and Education Programme for Daughters and Communities Center in the Greater Mekong Subregion (DEPDC/GMS), where they are conducting the six month long SYSTERM program (Shan Youth Safety Training to End Risk Migration), I quickly learned the importance of rice.

Rice is a vital sustenance for the students and is the most important component for every meal. I donated sixty bags, each weighing five kilograms, approximately eleven pounds, for a total of more than six hundred sixty one pounds of rice. Somporn Khempetch, the Director of Administration, was so happy as the students helped us unload the bags of rice which were transported by our friend Pi Wiwat, who is also a supporter of DEPDC/GMS’s Half Day School for migrant school children. Somporn stated she was very grateful because it would feed the entire SYSTERM group for twenty more days, three bags per day.

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Somporn Khempetch (Kru Noom) shows the full rice cooker just before dinner.

There are fifty-four youths from Shan State in Myanmar who have received special permission to travel to the DEPDC/GMS Coordination Center in Mae Sai, Thailand for an intensive leadership and life skills program developed by Sompop Jantraka, the Founder and Director of DEPDC/GMS. Here they are provided living quarters, all their meals, access to computers, cell phones, a music room, lectures and training by guest speakers from the community, and a safe environment to work in.

These youths are all at risk, many are undocumented and stateless. They have special identification cards which are not to be confused with a passport or birth certificate. These identification cards must be stamped every seven days at the Thai-Myanmar border and so weekly the group is transported to the border by DEPDC/GMS teachers.

At DEPDC/GMS, the students are being taught to trust in themselves, learn vocational skills to sustain them in life and be as independent as possible.

They (SYSTERM) will be the seeds for change in their country and renew hope in their families and communities. They are the living embodiment of Mahatma Gandhi’s inspirational words, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world!” – Sharon Moreau, BSN, RN, CPN

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It was such a privilege to meet Sompop Jantraka and watch him reach out to the students with his fatherly mannerisms, and his kind and soft words to inspire them to new destinies. It was an incredible experience to witness the eagerness of these students to learn and absorb everything around them including languages, cultures, new ideas and life perspectives. Even as a registered nurse who is committed to lifetime learning, it was a humbling experience. I will never forget their faces, their smiles, their love of life and every day experiences.

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I encourage everyone to participate in programs like DEPDC/GMS and SYSTERM and to donate in any way possible. Rice, money for fresh vegetables, funding for internet access, self care products, and education materials are so appreciated and so essential for the DEPDC/GMS to continue to fund and conduct the SYSTERM program, maintain the Patak Half Day School for children at risk from exploitation and trafficking, developmentally delayed, and stateless migrants, and for the shelter for abused women and children.”

Sharon Moreau, BSN, RN, CPN

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Thank you Sharon and all those who have so generously supported DEPDC/GMS in one way or another in the last 28 years since Sompop Jantraka’s mission to protect children and women from human trafficking began to spread throughout the Greater Mekong Sub Region. Your donations bring these projects to life and provide new opportunities for at-risk youth to learn vital skills that affect change more than we can imagine. Supporting SYSTERM supports a global impact to end human trafficking. The ripple effects of your generosity give hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Give the Gift of Rice Today

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DEPDC/GMS is currently looking for an individual or company to sponsor the Shan Youth Safety Training to End Risk Migration (SYSTERM) program with rice. Please email the DEPDC/GMS International Department (depdc.gms@gmail.com) for more information if you are interested in sponsoring SYSTERM’s first group of 54 students or helping to make the next group of 50 students possible.

Give Now

Estimated Costs of Meal Support

  • $12 USD a day will pay for the supply of 15 kg of rice, the amount consumed by 54 students over the course of three meals.
  • $40 USD a day will supply all 54 students with 3 meals a day; this includes the cost of rice, fresh vegetables, spices and drinking water.
  • $84 USD covers the cost of rice (105 kg) for one week (7 days).
  • $672 USD will sponsor the first group of SYSTERM students with rice for the remainder of their 3-months of intensive training at the DEPDC/GMS Headquarters.
  • $2240 will sponsor the first group of SYSTERM students for another 56 days, the remainder of their 3-months of intensive training at the DEPDC/GMS Headquarters. This amount supports the full cost of providing 3 meals a day (i.e., cost of rice, fresh vegetables, spices and drinking water).
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SYSTERM Group A (photo taken January 20, 2018)

 

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).

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 Annual Sports Day

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A tradition here at DEPDC is the annual sports day, a day that allows the children to exercise and learn important skills. Skills like teamwork, discipline and respect. The children were divided into two teams, the black and the blue team for which they cheered fiercely.img_1189

This year’s Sports Day included the usual activities such as the sprint, sack hop and the spoon race. There were also some less conventional games, like a game where a Ping-Pong ball needed to be hit across the Finnish line by hitting it with a bottle of water on a string around their hips; a hurdle run, where every hurdle was something to do or eat.  The games started and all the students cheered on their classmates as they ran, hopped, and occasionally ate their way across the finish line. And even towards the end of the day during the final competition, tug-of-war, no one seemed to tire or give up.  Snacks were distributed to all the participants after each event and again at the closing ceremony.

img_1254At the end of the day, we recognized our winning team, had closing ceremonies, and sent the kids off happy from their day’s exertions and fun.img_1227

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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2017 International Student Volunteers

For the past couple of weeks, we have had 28 international volunteers from both the university of Missouri and Daemen college in the US, and were busy working on building a tree house which will serve as a therapy shelter, painting a wall, helping with cooking, and teaching English to our children.

img_0929Two groups of international student volunteers came here at DPEDC with different programs, which were called KAYA and CIS Abroad. Both shared similar visions to support and help children from DEPDC as well as understanding about the current human trafficking situation alongside the Thai-Burmese border. International volunteers were split with tasks divided between teaching and construction works. During the teaching sessions, they provided opportunities for spontaneous interaction and fun challenges with various playful games, encouraging our students to be fully engaged in the English classes. These games evoked their learning motivation into learning English and maintained their interests and curiosity.

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Moreover, our international volunteers contributed to repaint our school’s old wall and build a new tree house shelter, called the “Play Home in Nature” which will provide a therapeutic environment for our children like healing, personal development, personal discovery, and positive change.

img_0951    img_0952img_0950img_0955    img_094616106077_1318268428195337_3019901780444002242_nWe would like to thank our dedicated and passionate volunteers, as our children have had a great and joyful time with them. They have done amazing works help cleaning our class rooms and built a tree house therapy shelter. International student volunteers’ charities, supporting and helping are the greatest of all, because all of us are directly witnessing their good work and how these efforts have a powerful effect on people and society in general.16106063_1317698694918977_7451770073537731428_nimg_094816003161_1317699108252269_8328957234247479823_n

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.

We get our own Musical Instrument, Khlui

Last week, Khun Sompop made a traditional Thai bamboo flute for the all  students and teachers in DEPDC/GMS.

Khun Sompop Jantraka is well-known for being a great leader and educator, not only for fighting against the sexual exploitation and trafficking of women and children, but also for protecting the rights of the child. But many people do not know he is a great musician too. He was a musician in a band and he used to sell a traditional Thai bamboo flute, Khlui that he made to make a living (More Information about Khlui).

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Still now, he is a great musician and both encourages and inspires HDS students to learn music. Based on his experience, he made Khlui with more than 10 year old bamboo for all of the students and teachers in DEDPC/GMS. Many researches have revealed music education can help children relax, develop emotional intelligence, understand complex emotions related to specific events or situations, and enhance adolescent brain development. But above all else, our children were so happy and excited to have their own musical instruments to play their own melodies. You can see their happy faces below in the pictures.  

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Jazz saxophonist and composer Charlie Parker once said, “Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.” Khun sompop may understand that inspiring quote better than anyone. All children deserve to have music in their lives! Thanks to his great lesson and his Khlui, we are sure that our children will have a better quality of life.

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We would like to thank you for all your support and help. Us here at DEPDC would not be able to continue our work of educating our students without your support. If you would like to support the HDS or any other project at DEPDC, please visit our project page at GlobalGiving.

The YALL Art Project begins

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 )14249890_1225611620824826_6985526399771123205_o

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 

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