DEPDC

DEPDC is a non-governmental, non-profit community-based organization that provides education and full-time accommodation to children in prevention and protection of being trafficked into the commercial sex industry and other exploitative labor conditions.
May 8, 2014

Safe Shelter & Education Program_May 2014 Update

Girls arriving home from school
Girls arriving home from school

One of the many strengths of the Safe Shelter Center program is the frequency of high quality vocational and life skills trainings provided to its young female residents.  On a Saturday in late January, Center staff and residents gathered for their weekly meeting and to do relationship and confidence building exercises with the guidance of the Center director, Ms. Puangthong Takan. At the meeting, Ms. Takan and the assistant director distributed clothes and shoes to each of the girls, asked for their input on the upcoming week’s menu for meals at the Center, and encouraged discussion of anything the girls needed to talk about. 

Each of the girls was grateful to receive a variety of clothes and a pair of shoes, which they got to try on and pass around until somebody found a good fit.  While Ms. Takan handed out shirts, jackets, warm hats, pants, sweaters, and sweatshirts, – it’s chilly in northern Thailand in January! – she reminded the girls to appreciate what they have and she talked with them about what is appropriate to wear in different situations.  After the excitement about receiving some new things settled, Ms. Takan turned to the topic of relationship and confidence building. 

Ms. Takan spoke first about the importance of listening and the value of an individual voice. She asked the girls to close their eyes and think about people and things that have made a positive impression on them and about their future aspirations.  After a few minutes of meditation, Ms. Takan had them pair up and take turns to share what had come to mind.  She guided them to listen wholeheartedly and to accept whatever their partners would say.  The pairs then joined up to make groups of four and each person shared with group mates what her partner had said.  Once everyone had their turn to speak, a representative from each group stood up and recapped the stories told by group members. Ms. Takan talked with the whole group further about how to be a good listener and emphasized that each individual has the right to be heard and for her voice to be valued and counted.

On February 14th, celebrated in some parts of the world as Valentine’s Day, the Center held an all-day workshop about safe sex and healthy relationships for the residents and girls from a neighboring village. A leadership and life skills training group called “Do Good and Be Joyful” came to conduct a range of serious and fun activities. The group regularly conducts leadership camps and skill- and knowledge-building workshops for the Center residents and other at-risk children in the Chiang Khong area.  Participants were warmly interactive with the workshop staff, Ms. Takan, a DEPDC/GMS international staff member, and with each other.  They were engaged to think about and reflect on topics of healthy relationships, sexually transmitted diseases, condom use, and confidence building. 

The girls especially enjoyed talking about personal relationships and the characteristics of healthy and unhealthy relationships.  They first split into groups of four to discuss and collaborate to make lists of both positive and negative relationship behaviors.  Each group came up with long lists of thoughtful examples and then took turns to share with the other groups.  Listeners were asked to say whether they agreed or disagreed with the examples their peers gave.  Lively discussions and even a few debates took place, as all participants had a chance to give feedback and to reflect further on their own experiences. 

The workshop wrapped up with a discussion of safe sex practices and a demonstration of condom use.  Presenters spoke candidly about the dangers of unprotected sex, showed examples of male and female condoms, and talked about alternative birth control methods.  They demonstrated how to open a male condom package and put it on a wooden replica. Then each participant had a try to do it herself. Many of the girls later reflected that this helped them to feel more confident about safe sex practices. 

As with all of the essential services and activities at the M-CRP Center in Chiang Khong, these workshops aim to lift the children up day by day and put them in a better position for the future.  This is not only to avoid becoming a victim of human trafficking and labor exploitation, but to be able to envision a safe and healthy life and to have the means to attain it. 

It
It's time to hand out new clothes and shoes!

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Apr 28, 2014

April 2014 CLC Update

Some of our CLC students with birthday cakes !
Some of our CLC students with birthday cakes !

Since our last report in January, Community Learning Centre (CLC) classes have been going really well at our Mae Sai centre. Our two current CLC teachers for intermediate English classes, Eléa and Genevieve, were happy to welcome new students to their classes! Having a new student in class is always a reward for our teachers, since the classes are mostly advertised by word of mouth.  Eléa, from France and who lived in the United Kingdom for 5 years, says: ‘A new student in class means that our students have talked to their friends about our English lessons and have convinced them to study as well.  For us, it is great feedback and proof that our students have a positive experience with their CLC classes. I am always excited to get to know a new student in class and have fun together.’ 

Community Learning Centre classes are also currently taught by Genevieve, who is from the United States. Genevieve has been teaching for a month and has already developed a close relationship with her students. Last month, she turned 22 and we all celebrated her birthday together. The students brought her two birthday cakes that were shared and thoroughly enjoyed.

Some students of our intermediate English classes have been coming to the Community Learning Centre for a long time. Seoul, 17, is a student who has been coming to CLC classes for over a year and a half.  He says: ‘I really enjoy my classes because it isn’t just a class, it also feels like family. The atmosphere here is friendly and there is no pressure to fail. We can all exchange knowledge and ideas. I come to CLC classes to improve my English skills and to gain confidence to speak.  My English has improved a lot.’

Another Community Learning Centre student, Pam, who is 16, has been coming to CLC classes for 4 years. Pam says: ‘I like this class because our teachers like to play games to teach us English. I think CLC classes are useful for everyone now and in the future, because we use English regularly and it is important for everyone to speak the language a little bit.’

Our students come from various schools around Mae Sai and also have different nationalities and backgrounds. The CLC ‘open door’ policy means that our classes are open to anyone in the community and that no one is ever turned away. Students come to class to learn more vocabulary and grammar in order to enter highly-rated universities or simply to have a bit of fun in class.

Thanks to the generosity and support of Global Giving donors, all other Community Learning Centre classes (Thai, Burmese, and Computer classes) are taught every week and provide a fantastic opportunity for members of a community in need.  CLC provides free literacy and human rights education to members of ethnic minority hill tribes, undocumented migrants, Buddhist monks, and other community members living along the Thai-Burmese border.

On behalf of our teachers, volunteers, and students, we would like to humbly thank you for your support which helps maintain this important project. We invite you to visit the DEPDC blog to read recent updates and information about the Community Learning Centre and other DEPDC projects.

Finally, we would like to wish you a very happy Thai New Year from all of us here at DEPDC!

Thank you so much!

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Mar 24, 2014

HDS Lunch Program Update

Watering time!
Watering time!

 

At DEPDC/GMS we believe that nourishment and physical health is essential to optimal learning. The HDS lunch program was created so that students would be provided with at least one healthful and nutritious meal every school day. The unfortunate reality for many HDS students is that the school lunch will be the only nourishment that they will have all day. This is true for approximately 25% of HDS students. This program also Two programs within the lunch program that have been particularly impactful are the agricultural and cooking training.

The cooking program increases students responsibility, self-sufficiency, and life skills through hands-on training. Students are given the opportunity to share their skills from home with their peers as well as expand their own skillsets. Although many students already have basic cooking skills, these skills are sharpened and built upon. Through the agricultural program students are taught about the growing seasons, which vegetables are the most nutrient dense, and other horticultural skills.

One student that has been particularly affected by our lunch program is Aran. Aran (15 y/o) is in many ways a typical teenage boy. He loves to play sports and often will make jokes in class. He is described by his teachers as a conscientious student with a gregarious personality. Unfortunately, Aran has many responsibilities and burdens that a typical Thai boy may not share. Aran is Akha, his family lives in the Jong village by a Lychee Plantation. His family works very hard but they cannot grow all of the food that they need. They are able to make a small profit from corn and tobacco which covers few of their minimal living expenses. The lunch program has been a huge help to Aran and his family. Through the program Aran has been able to get at least one nutritious meal a day, learned many new skills, and best of all has been able to take home some of the produce that he grows in the garden! He says that his favorite vegetables to grow are onions and lettuce and that it makes him happy to work in the garden before and after school.


We thank those who have donated so far to the program!

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