The Half Day School (HDS) has continued smoothly since our last project report. The school has been abuzz with fun, laughter and learning thanks to generous people like you who help us to provide the children with the critical things they need to attend school. In addition to the always important basic necessities for students, your contributions have helped to provide good food, clean water and a safe place for children to be, learn, develop and spend time with friends. Below are some recent events that the Half Day School students have been involved in, some ongoing activities in which they continue to participate, and some upcoming events and activities we are looking forward to.
In November, the children celebrated the famous Loi Krathong Festival. About 100 students worked together to make the famous ‘krathongs’ which they float gently down rivers to celebrate Thai and Buddhist history and pay respect to their beliefs. It was a great bonding time during which the students had lots of fun and felt a sense of connection with each other and with the broader society celebrating alongside them. For children from vulnerable and often marginalised communities, this kind of event empowers them and lets them feel a sense of community that is important for people’s core well-being.
On the 10th of January, more than 100 children at the Half Day School spent Children’s Day, ‘Wan Dek’, playing games, winning awards and having fun with friends, Thai staff, and International Volunteers. Everyone brought something which they could give to someone else so that everyone received a present on the day, and if any children couldn’t afford to bring something, the Half Day School staff made sure they were given something which they could use as their own gift to give. With a speech about children’s rights, empowerment and futures from our founder, Khun Sompop, to close the day’s activities, the children received and left with a deep sense of belonging, self-worth and gratitude, which is DEPDC’s aim to provide.
Likewise, Sports Day on February 7 gave more than 100 children the opportunity to compete, exercise and have fun with friends and go home with full stomachs and big smiles. And lastly, on February 14, which was a Buddhist holiday called ‘Wan Makha Bucha’, HDS teachers led a study tour to the Opium Hall in Chiang Saen, the Golden Triangle, and two different Buddhist sites to learn about Buddhist, Thai and Greater Mekong Subregion histories. The students learned about the dangers of the Golden Triangle, crime, drugs and ways they can remain safe, all the while enjoying themselves. The children love these occasions and we love hosting them, so we must thank our generous supporters for helping us to continue to provide the students with events and activities such as these.
Other activities at the Half Day School have remained very much normal. Classes and the vocational and life-skills training continue to help the students develop their skills and build towards safe and self-sufficient futures. The Little DJ programme that trained the children about how to use radio for outreach and as a platform for them to communicate with others and to express themselves also continues, as does the agriculture programme that becomes more impressive every day and continues to teach growing numbers of children about sustainable, self-sufficient techniques to meet their basic needs.
We are currently on the verge of final exams for the 2013/14 school year and the graduation of our oldest class of students at the Half Day School ahead of our summer break. It is an exciting time and, although it is always sad to say goodbye to our sons and daughters, we are extremely proud that they have successfully completed the programme and will take their skills on into the future. And as they continue to create lives for themselves, they will always have a home at the Half Day School if they want to come and help teach children the way that they were once taught themselves. Besides that, we look forward to summer break activities at the centre, welcoming back students when the new school year begins, and adding new members to the family when new students arrive through our gates.
Thank you so much to everyone who has made and continues to make it possible for the Half Day School to do what it does. With support from you and others like you, our programmes will continue to make important differences in the lives of vulnerable, underprivileged children and to give them futures of which they might otherwise never have even dreamed.
The school term break during the month of October was quite busy for teachers and many of the students at our Half Day School. Over the course of three different training sessions, participants learned how to manage the school’s recently initiated radio broadcast program and increased their awareness of social problems which directly affect many of the young people throughout the Mekhong Subregion. While some recreational activities lightened the mood surrounding serious issues, students gained crucial information about the real and ever-present dangers to their physical safety and well-being which are inherent to the local community and region, and about the causes and consequences of human trafficking and the exploitation of child labor.
The “Camp for Increasing Life Skills” on the 8th, 9th, and 10th of October served fifty-five students on site at the Half Day School. Specific topic discussions engaged the children on day one to learn more about themselves and their individual rights, their role within traditional and alternative family structures, and their place within the larger community and social framework. The second day was highlighted by an educational hike through a protected forest park nearby the Half Day School. All cooperated to pack supplies and food in the morning before setting off, and after a variety of fun orienteering activities along the way and some ninety minutes later, the group reached a natural mountain pool where they picnicked and had a cooling swim. Students then had a chance to listen to a park official speak about nature conservation and environmental hazards. On the camp’s final day, students were given a demonstration by army soldiers who specialize in training canines to search for illicit drugs. They also discussed social problems and dangers related to the trafficking of contraband which is prevalent at border crossings and throughout the Mekhong Subregion. Teachers wrapped up camp activities with a gathering to guide students to reflect on questions about what they learned over the three days.
The Half Day School’s ‘Little DJ’ program was set in motion on the 16thof twenty students in an all-day training conducted by instructors with expertise in socially responsible media programming. The school’s broadcast studio has been home to the Child Voice Radio (CVR) community outreach radio program for the last seven years, and with this training students will be able to host an enhanced series of programs throughout the school day which will also be on air in the surrounding community area. Participants had the opportunity to learn not only the technical side of radio program production, but also to understand important elements of deejaying and public speaking such as self-confidence, appropriate speech techniques, and resourcefulness. Instructors encouraged students to overcome anxiety and shyness when speaking out, to value their own ideas and viewpoints, and to take ownership of input into program content and production. Students then collaborated to create a mind map in summary of all aspects of radio programming and remarked that the training was valuable for both their practical knowledge and personal growth, aside from being great fun and something to look forward to each school day.
Another training session at the Half Day School in October was held over three separate days and focused on the issues of child labor exploitation and human trafficking. A group of thirty-one students joined each day to learn from experienced teachers, to analyze various media sources on the subjects, and to participate in group discussions concerning the causes and consequences of victimization. The first training session concentrated on the definition of exploitative child labor with specific discussion of the difference between working conditions which are healthy and safe and the forms of child labor which are harmful and illegal. Teachers increased students’ awareness of what dangerous situations can be like for exploited children through analysis of documentaries and case studies, and with such examples they also taught students ways to decrease their vulnerability to becoming victims themselves. The second and third days of training combined a review of types of exploitative working conditions as well as in-depth discussion of human trafficking risks for young people in this region and of features of the worldwide network. Teachers guided participants to consider the definition of human trafficking and its multitude of forms, potential situations and dangers faced by victims, and how to identify and evade perpetrators who are endemic to this region in particular. With the close of the final day, students were encouraged to think critically about their social environment and to proactively share their knowledge with friends, family, and community members.
It is with training opportunities like these, provided in addition to the Half Day School’s prevention and protection oriented curriculum, that students continue to build their personal resources – critical thinking skills, practical knowledge, self-confidence, a sense of belonging and self-worth, and the ability to empower their peers and their community. We would like to acknowledge the dedication and hard work of the Half Day School’s full-time faculty members and part-time instructors, whose expertise and training skills are invaluable in the preparation, planning, and execution of these such events which have been proven effective not only in keeping our children safe, but also in nurturing the development from which they will grow into healthy adults and community leaders.
Half Day School has been running smoothly since the children returned in May! Thanks to your generous support, this school year the Half Day School provided vital education, vocational and life skills training, and material support to over 150 children from vulnerable communities in the Thai-Burma border region.
I’d like to tell you about some recent developments at the Half Day School, including special activities, new programs and partnerships, and the work of international volunteers. I also want to update you on our ongoing activities in education, vocational training, and personal development training. This school year saw growth in a number of areas including the organic agriculture project, the Buddhist Project, and English teaching.
Our regular classes have continued this term, with students learning English with our International Volunteers, Mathematics, Thai, Computer Skills, Science, Social Studies, Health, and various Vocational Skills. Our blog documents the diverse range of learning opportunities and fun-filled activities that the children of HDS partake in, which are made possible by donors like you.
Students have been getting up to all sorts of fun things this term. Teacher's day was a great success, the students made the most beautiful gifts for their much loved teachers and presented them in a wonderful ceremony.
The Buddhist Project is still running successfully. Every Friday Monks from the community come to our Half Day School to teach the children about how to live harmoniously in society. You can read more about The Buddhist Project here on our blog !
Also on our blog, you can read about the typical day of Susanae, an akha student of DEPDC and how DEPDC has helped her so far.
The Half Day School continuously tries to improve and diversify the students’ experience and learning opportunities. We’d like to tell you about some of our ongoing activities as well as some new ones.
(All HDS students are also provided with lunch every day.) Besides their academic education, students at HDS participate in vocational workshops including:
We have been greatly enjoying our term so far. As always, I welcome your feedback and suggestions on improving our students’ learning experiences. Once again, on behalf of the Half Day School students and their families, I extend my most sincere thanks to you for making it all possible. Your generous contributions make it possible for the children most at-risk for sex and labor trafficking to learn, grow and gain self-confidence!
Thank you so much,
DEPDC Director of Projects
We are pleased to announce that our latest newsletter is now available!
Inside this issue you will find stories about:
View or download the newsletter here: Newsletter – June 2013
Thank you so much for your continued support of DEPDC. The Half Day School would not be possible without your generosity!
We hope you will enjoy reading our newsletter.Please continue to spread the word and forward it to your friends and families.
The Half Day School has just completed a very successful 2012-2013 school year. As of mid-March, the students are on holiday for rice planting season, and will return for the new school year in May. Thanks to your generous support, this school year the Half Day School provided vital education, vocational and life skills training, and material support to over 150 children from vulnerable communities in the Thai-Burma border region.
Our blog highlights some of the learning activities that your donations make possible for the children of the Half Day School. Click the links throughout this report to read more and see photos and videos. Some recent activities at the Half Day School include:
In November, DEPDC also welcomed Natalie, a volunteer teacher from the U.S. Natalie has been working hard to improve the quality of the English language curriculum at the Half Day School and at other DEPDC sites. She is writing an extensive teaching manual for use by future volunteers, and has provided training for current volunteers in curriculum development, lesson planning, ESL best practices, and child development. We are thrilled to develop our English program further and to welcome more international volunteers to the DEPDC family.
Of course, these special events and activities are in addition to our ongoing education and vocational activities. As you may already know, at the Half Day School the school day is divided into two parts. In the first half of the day, students study academic subjects including math, science, Thai language, and English language. During the second half of the day, students learn vocational skills. In addition to learning income-generating activities, becoming competent at a skill improves the students’ sense of self-worth and accomplishment. Some of the vocational training areas currently offered are:
The Half Day School also provides ongoing life skills and personal development education, including:
We are delighted to have finished the 2012-2013 school year on a strong note, and we are excited to welcome our students back in May. As always, I welcome your feedback and suggestions. And once again, on behalf of the Half Day students and their families, as well as everyone at DEPDC, I extend sincere thanks to you for making all of this possible. Together, we are demonstrating that even the children who are most at-risk for human trafficking, and who seem to have little opportunities in life, can learn, grow, and become successful leaders in their communities!
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