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.
Jul 16, 2014

Programs That Make a Difference- A Visitor's Views

Children practice Thai language in the morning
Children practice Thai language in the morning

The following is a postcard from Charissa Murphy, GlobalGiving's In-the-Field Representative in Southeast Asia, about her recent visit to DEP-DC in Thailand.

Approaching DEP-DC's campus in Mae Sai in northern Thailand, I saw a collection of children with workbooks and engaged questions filling the outdoor classroom area. Although they were on their school's break after the end of the school year, the children and the teacher were studying together for extra help on their Thai language skills. The age ranges of the children varied, and each child had a language workbook suitable to his or her specific language level. I was captured by how engaged they were in practicing, collaborating, and asking the teacher questions when they needed it. It was clear from the beginning of my visit how dedicated DEP-DC is to supporting these children, allowing them opportunities for not only language development, but also for personal empowerment to feel confident in asking questions and understanding the value of education.

Since its beginning 25 years ago, supporting children and communities who are at-risk for human trafficking, DEP-DC has grown into an organization that not only provides support to the children and families in the surrounding community, but also to groups and organizations who want to learn from its strong model of programming. The staff shared that they host visitors often who are eager to learn from them, which has also allowed the organization to grow strong relationships with other support organizations in Thailand.

During my visit, I toured the Half-Day school, which really is a full day school with educational, as well as life skills and personal development teachings. I also saw the community learning facilities where they run programs for the entire community, including Thai literacy courses, English as a Foreign Language courses, and vocational trainings. Due to funding limitations, some of these courses have temporarily stopped unfortunately.

One of the volunteers, Matt, has been working with DEP-DC now for over 8 months, and he plans to be there for about a year in total. His enthusiasm for the organization was contagiously inspiring, and he hopes to return there for his research studies or after he finishes his university studies. Matt enthusiastically shared his experience working with the children at the Mekong Regional Indigenous Child Rights Home, which currently houses eight children, providing them opportunities for rehabilitation, reintegration into society, and educational and skills training. I could almost feel him glowing from across the room as he shared some of the agricultural and training experiences the children share daily!

Though it was extremely motivating to hear about the many programs that it currently runs, it was disappointing to hear that it has stopped various programming due to lack of funding that supported the children and community in more non-traditional teachings. One such program is its Child Voice Radio, which helped the children learn about reporting, journalism, developing research and sharing it to an audience, and overall confidence and practical writing and speaking development.

As I left and smiled and waved my farewells to the students who were still at the school, I felt really thankful to meet an organization that is not only dedicated to its beneficiaries, but that also has developed programs that truly make a difference here.

Upcoming Event on GlobalGiving - TODAY, this Wednesday, July 16th, is a Bonus matching day!:

Today, July 16th (Wednesday), beginning at 9AM EDT, GlobalGiving will match 50% of any donations (of up to $1,000 from any individual donor) to DEP-DC. There are $130,000 in total funds available for matching today for all of GlobalGiving’s partners. To ensure your donation is matched before the funds run out, please consider donating early today shortly after 9AM.

I want to thank DEP-DC for allowing me to visit!

each student had a workbook based on his/her level
each student had a workbook based on his/her level
students practice Thai language together in the AM
students practice Thai language together in the AM
empty class hallways b/c exams recently finished
empty class hallways b/c exams recently finished
Jun 23, 2014

Lunch Program Update - Spotlight on Ming, a Former Student & Current Teacher

Students enjoying lunch time together
Students enjoying lunch time together

At the Half Day School, the teachers and staff understand that proper nutrition is key to physical health and positive educational outcomes. The Lunch Program was created to provide students with a healthful and nutritious meal every school day. This meal is often the sole form of nourishment that students will receive all day. Approximately 25 of the 100 Half Day School students are reliant solely on the lunch program for their food. Last school year, 21 students could not bring their own rice to have with the dishes provided by the school.

The head of the Lunch Program, Teacher Ming, is especially attuned to the situations that many of the students face as a former Half Day School student herself. Ming is now 25 years old, but remembers well her childhood and time as a student. Here is her story.  

Ming had to move in with her aunt when she was seven. Shortly after, she came to the Half Day School as a student. She was stateless (without official identity papers), which greatly limited her educational opportunities. Ming was unable to go to a government school and the Half Day School program gave her the ability to pursue an education. The Lunch Program is very close to her heart, because she benefitted from the program when she was a student there.

Ming was able to bring rice from home to have for lunch, but she relied on food from the school’s Lunch Program. Ming completed Grade 5 - the top grade at that time - and then, at age 14, began leadership training through the Mekong Youth Leadership Training Program for one year. After completing the leadership training, she did vocational training for 3 months at the Mekong Regional Indigenous Child Rights Home (MRICRH), our program in Mae Chan District. Ming then worked for our organization's Child Help Line project for one and a half years, where she saw many sad cases. She then worked for our Child Voice Radio program, to deejay programs and train Half Day School students.  

Ming has been an Half Day School teacher now for 3 years and she loves teaching. She says that the students are curious to learn, the way that she was at their age. She knows that they need to learn academic subjects, but believes that it is equally important for them to learn life skills that will protect them from trafficking and labor abuses. Ming notes especially that the Lunch Program is key to achieving these goals. The nourishment that the food provides improves the childrens’ abilities to focus on their academic subjects. The vocational training that the lunch program provides through its cooking and agricultural aspects increases students responsibility, self-sufficiency, and life skills through hands-on training.

We sincerely thank those who have donated to the program so far. Please help us reach our goal!

Cleaning up after lunch
Cleaning up after lunch
Focusing on studies after a healthy meal
Focusing on studies after a healthy meal

Links:

May 27, 2014

Half Day School Program_May 2014 Update!

Half Day School Children at Play During Recess
Half Day School Children at Play During Recess

Here in Mae Sai, the Half Day School program has just started the new school year. The students are back from their summer break and it’s great to once again have the Centre filled with the sounds of fun and learning, which we’ve all missed while the kids were away. Academic classes and vocational training have resumed and the Centre, where the Half Day School is located, is again filled with the new and improving abilities of the children.

The morning air carries the scent of food as children learn and help to cook for themselves and their classmates. The sound of tools attests the new projects and continuing improvements around the Centre. This gives the children the opportunity to learn and to help preserve the second home where their days are made brighter. Among the many other life skills and vocational training classes going on, the agriculture site stands a lush green. The field is located just outside the Centre building and has begun to soak up the seasonal rainfall.  Students and staff members diligently maintain the agriculture site throughout the school year.

Last but not least, the games and spontaneous fun of happy, carefree children have returned. Badmintons fly between friends, whose games are driven more by enjoyment than rules. Soccer balls curve and score to shouts of success and broad, delighted smiles. Volleyballs rise and fall to a chorus of laughs; the score less important than having fun with friends, trying their best and surpassing their own abilities. And the sun sets each day, splashing baby blues, inviting oranges, deep purples, and delicate pinks across the sky, as it watches the children return home with warm hearts, light minds, and the promise of an approaching tomorrow.

These activities mean a lot to the vulnerable children whom the Half Day School program cares for. One example is May, a 14-year-old student who has been at the School for 6 years and recently graduated from the 4th grade. Abandoned by her mother and left with distant relatives in Mae Sai, May has no citizenship papers and knows only that she was born in Nakorn Pathom Province in Central Thailand. May’s foster family cannot provide all the care she needs, since her primary caregivers are sick, elderly family members, so we make sure that she has access to basic food, water, clothing and medical necessities.

May faces significant inducement to leave school and to work in order to help support her foster family. Half Day School teachers appreciate the situation, and, though May will work part time, they have convinced her to remain in the vocational training until she finishes the program. This means that she maintains contact with the School, making it easier to monitor her situation, while she will also continue to learn important skills with which she can support herself in the future.  For May, as for the rest of our children, the Half Day School program provides an opportunity for a safer, happier, and more secure life.

To all of the supporters of the Half Day School and DEPDC/GMS, thank you for your kind attention and generosity. We love the work we do and we are always trying to improve and refine its programs. We would love to know what supporters think of the program and any ideas for how together we can continue to tackle poverty, exploitation and human trafficking. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

Half Day School Students on a Field Trip
Half Day School Students on a Field Trip
Buddhist Ethics Training at the Half Day School
Buddhist Ethics Training at the Half Day School

Links:

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