Children
 Thailand
Project #15105

Help To Provide Lunch For Half Day School Students

by DEPDC
Vetted
HDS Students during cooking class
HDS Students during cooking class

Several months have passed since the children of DEPDC returned to the Half Day School. It can safely be said that, with the exception of some new programs, volunteers, and visitors to the centre, most things are finally back to normal. The intense heatwave which formerly plagued the nation has given way to the stormy downpours of the monsoon season. Though this weather comes a few weeks later than usual, the monsoon season comes with many benefits to programs such as DEPDC’s Lunch program.

In the organisation’s previous report, we mentioned concerns regarding the negative impact of the unusually warm climate on the agricultural project. However, DEPDC is pleased to announce that the regularly heavy, rain will soon have made the soil fertile enough for rice to be grown. About a month ago, the organisation staff set to work, ploughing the Half Day School’s rice field in preparation. Soon, the school will become even more self-sufficient as DEPDC is well on its way to regaining the ability to grow its own food.

In addition to this, the children will learn useful farming skills by taking part in the planting, care, and harvesting of the rice. The previously mentioned steps to improve crop and vegetable growth, such as the greenhouse are still in development, however, DEPDC hopes that, through these methods, they will soon be able to significantly extend the crop production period and provide children with consistent meals, even in challenging situations such as an extended dry season.

The cooking program is also well underway. Naturally, due to the limited supply of home grown food, many of the supplies for this project have to acquired elsewhere. The project has also been limited to two days a week, but recently was able to return to a daily lunch schedule. However, that has not prevented students and staff from creating a wide array of amazing meals which have kept both students and staff happy, healthy and fed. DEPDC hopes to replace these externally sourced provisions with their own vegetables and crops as soon as possible.

The generosity of our donors makes it possible for DEPDC to provide a decent standard of living and assist our target groups in achieving their full potential, especially in difficult situations such as the prolonged dry season. So, from the staff, the students, and all others at the Development and Education Programme for Daughters and Communities Centre in the Greater Mekong Sub-region, thank you!

HDS Students cooking
HDS Students cooking
HDS Students at Lunch time
HDS Students at Lunch time

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HDS students during cooking class
HDS students during cooking class

The students have recently returned from their summer break which means a new school year schedule is in full swing. In the month leading up to the first day of school, the staff of HDS spent a lot of time looking at, revising, and developing programs, both old and new. The lunch program has been a particularly important topic as many factors have contributed to the difficulties the program is currently facing. 

In the last report we had growing concerns about the climate and it's impact on our agricultural program. The agricultural program remains a vital component of self-sustainability for the lunch program when funding is low. Unfortunately, our climate concerns became a reality when, in the last months, Thailand's temperatures have risen to record highs that have not been seen in 60 years. In addition to the devastating heat, the rainy season only arrived this last Saturday. Compared with years past, the rainy season was several weeks late. With no water and high temperatures, we were not able to attend to the crops as was needed and the crops have died. Due to these unfortunate circumstances and lack of funds the lunch program has suffered and the HDS is not able to provide consistent lunches for the students. 

Plans, though, are in progress to counter some of these hardships and revamp the lunch program. The HDS has recently been provided with the equipment to build a green house and we already have the equipment and irrigation system needed to plant a new crop of rice. The rainy season has officially started, however, before we can begin these projects more patience is required until the stream next to DEPDC has water. As long as the rain continues, soon we will be able to plant the rice and begin planting more vegetables so the students once again have healthy, organic meals in addition to their education! And the students have recently started their life-skill class of cooking, so when the crops are ready they will be able to create some delicious dishes! 

Even though we have faced a few problems we are even more grateful for the support of all our donors both past and present. In the midst of difficulty it is even more apparent how far your generosity reaches. A heart felt thank you from all of us here at DEPDC/GMS for all that you provide. 

HDS students practicing cooking techniques
HDS students practicing cooking techniques
HDS students eating lunches from home
HDS students eating lunches from home

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In the past few months DEPDC’s Lunch Program has faced a few difficulties. HDS doesn’t have enough funds to provide lunch for the students every day so HDS sometimes provides milk or snacks for them. Our children have to bring their own lunch. As some of our children live far from school they have to get up early and sometimes their parents don’t have time to cook for them. Sometimes they come to school without a lunch box. What they eat for their lunch is a snack and sadly, this doesn’t completely fill their stomachs.

To provide food for our children, after harvesting the rice from the fields in December, we turned it into a garden for growing vegetables; we planted mustard, kale, radish, cucumber, pumpkin, and long bean. Some of the vegetables have already been harvested such as mustard, kale, and radish and these vegetables have been used for the lunch program. But while we are waiting for the cucumber, pumpkin, and long bean to grow the dry season is coming and we face water problems. Currently, we don’t have enough water for watering the plants. The only thing we can do is hope the well will provide more water for us.

Despite all this we continue to have hope and are grateful for all donors both past and present. All HDS’ students, teachers, staff, and volunteers would like to thank all the faithful donors, who have donated and supported us via global giving and private donations.

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Packing the mushrooms for sale
Packing the mushrooms for sale

The last few months were very difficult for DEPDC's Lunch Program. Due to a lack of funding for the program we had to cut the school lunch to one or two times per week depending on available funds. After the rice harvest last week and the successful start of our mushroom farm two weeks ago, we hope that the program will be able to provide a daily, healthy, vegetarian lunch again soon.

During the last few weeks HDS had to cut back the school's Lunch Program to only one or two meals a week as there is not enough money to pay the food for lunches every day of the working week. In those hard times we had to ask our students to bring their own lunch from home. However, there are two pieces of good news.

The first good news is that the rice DEPDC sowed four months ago was ready for harvest last week and will be sent to the rice mill to be prepared for being used. The harvest is thought to be about 420kg of eatable rice and will support the Lunch Program for some months to come.

The second good news is that the mushroom farm that was started by a monk from Wat Prom Wihan in Mae Sai has begun to provide Naang Fah Kao Mushrooms (a kind of oyster mushroom) that can be sold and used for cooking both of which support HDS's Lunch Program. The mushrooms grow very fast and can only be kept for one day after they’re ready, so sale of the excess mushrooms is a good source of funding to buy additional food needed for the school's lunches.

HDS's students, teachers, and volunteers would like to thank all the past, current, and future donors without whose kind support DEPDC's work would not be possible. Thank you so much!

Inside the mushroom farm before harvest
Inside the mushroom farm before harvest
Phra Vacharatap with some of HDS
Phra Vacharatap with some of HDS's students

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Students preparing lunch for HDS
Students preparing lunch for HDS

Another three month have passed by and there are some interesting news about our Half Day School's (HDS) Lunch Program. DEPDC is going to grow its own rice at the school's agricultural site!

This year DEPDC's HDS will grow its own rice for the first time to support the school's Lunch Program. For that purpose we relocated the vegetable fields to a formerly unused plot of land and converted them into three rice fields.

After the ground was broken and the fields were brought into shape, we started to pump water onto the fields until they were completely flooded and ready to make the ground absolutely level. As it is the first time we use this fields to grow rice, field preparation took a long time and we were really happy when we could finally sow the rice on a small part of the fields.

The rice saplings had to grow for one month until we could finally replant them into the main fields. As task that is a lot of work, but could be done within very short time because of the help of all students, volunteers, and staff from DEPDC's Mae Sai site.

We now hope that we will be able to harvest rice for our Lunch Program in about three month and will be able to cover huge parts of the program's rice consumption with our own organic rice.

One side effect of the new rice fields is that DEPDC is planning to improve its field irrigation system. That will also benefit the school's vegetable fields as the improved availability of water will make us more flexible to grow according to our needs and it will also improve the food security for our Lunch Program.

When I asked a group of students while cooking, what they think about the Lunch Program; I got a whole list of food they like and another list of food they don't like, but asked what they like best, the common answer was Khao Pad Sai Kai (fried rice with eggs). Asked what they would like to change in the Lunch Program they said: 'We would like to change the menu and have more Khao Pad Sai Kai and we would like to have more sweets and snacks to the meals'. Wishes like these are not easy to handle, because we also need to take care about a balanced nutrition for our students, but we will try to follow our students wishes to a reasonable extend.

Finally all students, staff, and volunteers from DEPDC would like to thank all former, current, and future donors, whose kind donations made DEPDC's work possible and allowed us to provide the students at HDS with at least one nutritious meal per day.

Preparing the fields for replanting
Preparing the fields for replanting
Replanting the rice saplings
Replanting the rice saplings
Replanting the rice saplings
Replanting the rice saplings
The new rice fields under bright sunshine
The new rice fields under bright sunshine

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Organization Information

DEPDC

Location: Mae Sai, Chiang Rai - Thailand
Project Leader:
Alinda Suya
Director of Mae Sai Projects
Mae Sai, Chiang Rai Thailand

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