Time is passing by quickly. On the 11th of May, a new school year began and we are already closing in on our first term break, starting on 10th of October. The first half of the school year was filled with many activities and changes.
During this term, DEPDC started to grow its own rice to support the school's lunch program. When the rice saplings had to be replanted, many students from HDS came to help out. With the help from all the students, the job was done within a few hours. Hopefully, we will be able to harvest DEPDC's first own organically grown rice by the beginning of December.
One of the term's highlights for the kids was a visit to the nearby Chai Lee Farm. Chai Lee Farm is a farm in Mae Sai that produces dairy products. For most of our students this was a completely new experience. They found it exiting to see and learn about the process of milk production, all the way from milking the cow until the product was ready to be bought at the supermarket. Furthermore, they had the possibility to try really fresh milk directly from the farm.
The arrival of a new group of International Student Volunteers (ISV) is always a highlight for the students at HDS. This year, DEPDC hosted five groups of ISV volunteers, whom mainly supported DEPDC by maintenance and construction work, but also supported the International Department by taking over English classes at HDS. The five groups from ISV helped to refurbish the area around HDS's refectory, worked on our schoolyard's wall, and paved the area at DEPDC's entrance gate.
We would like to thank all our former, current, and future donors without whose generous support DEPDC's work would not be possible.
After a well deserved summer break for both the teachers and students, school here in Mae Sai resumed as normal on the 11th of May.
This 2015/2016 term brings us a school filled with 62 children. The hot dry summer weather met us and the kids as classes like English, Mathematics, Thai , Social science, and straight science went ahead as normal. Cooking classes for the children and cooking for the lunch program also commenced. However there was a large development on the grounds of the Half Day school (HDS). What was a vegetable patch near the playing pitch has now been ploughed in time for rainy season to begin growing rice. This rice will go towards the lunch program and for a period of time DEPDC will be near self sustaining with the efforts of the whole HDS. What was the vegetable patch has been moved down the field and is now growing around 15 different crops in a small scale. Since mid May, we have had International Student Volunteers (ISV’s) come to visit and help at the HDS. There have been 3 groups to date. They have consisted of around 15 or more individuals and students that have helped in teaching English in the HDS. They have joined us from several different parts of the world including America, Canada and Portugal. For the two weeks they spend in Mae Sai, they assist in teaching English as well as conducting maintenance on the DEPDC compound. Some of the HDS students take these volunteers to see some local sights like temples near the Myanmar border.
On 11th of June, DEPDC’s HDS celebrated this years Wai Khru Ceremony. This ceremony gives the students the opportunity to show gratitude to their teachers and to apologize for any misbehaviour. HDS celebrates this ceremony once a year. The actual ceremony is held during the morning and in the afternoon HDS’s students sing on stage and perform short plays that they write themselves. It was a lot of fun this year and both staff and students had an enjoyable ceremony.
To all of the supporters of the Half Day School and DEPDC/GMS, thank you for your kind attention and generosity. We are grateful for ISV’s help this term and look forward to the rest of the term ahead.
Another three months have passed by and our students went on their well-deserved holidays on Friday 13th of March. Our school will be closed until May 11th and then resume as before.
During the time of school holidays HDS's teachers will have one month break as well and then begin to prepare for the new school year. Now we have a little time to reflect on what happened during the past year.
In the school year 2014/2015 HDS had 72 students. All of them belong to one of the various ethnic minorities living on both sides of the Thai-Myanmar border and are victims of statelessness. HDS offers these children a chance to receive at least a basic education up to grade 6 (the end of primary education in Thailand) and also provides them with vocational training in different fields, like sewing, handicrafts, basic maintenance of technical equipment, and agriculture.
HDS is a school under the supervision of the Non-Formal Education Department (NFED) and therefor our students must do their exams for the primary education diploma at the NFED. During the last year all eight of our 5th grade students managed to receive their diploma for the 6th grade and are now going to study on for a high school diploma. Three of them even managed to progress on to the formal education system and will be able to study at a Thai government school from the beginning of next term. This is a big success for these children and all HDS and DEPDC staff are happy and proud of this achievement.
The other five students will have the chance to stay at HDS for one more year and study here to improve their knowledge and skills. They will receive support and advice for their further studies.
DEPDC wishes all of them the best of luck in their further studies and hopes that they will go on to receive a 9th grade high school diploma.
All to DEPDC's staff, volunteers, and students would like to thank all our generous donors for their support. Without your support DEPDC's work for the wellbeing of our students would be impossible. Thank you!
The new term at our Half Day School (HDS) started on November 3, marking the start to a busy period full of feasts and activities.
DEPDC is happy to report that nearly all students who finished the previous term returned for this term. This is not always certain as quite some of our students live in very difficult economic and social situations lacking any stability. In case that the children's caregivers are forced to move following their work, the children will be forced to drop out of school and follow as well. In other cases the economic pressure on the children to go to work to support the family's income becomes to strong and dropping out of school is just a matter of time. Under these circumstances it is already some effort that this term nearly all students from the last term came back to study on.
The last two months of the year are marked with many holidays that we recognize at DEPDC including both traditional Thai and Western holidays.
On November 6, the students of HDS celebrated Loi Krathong by setting free little floats made of banana trunk, banana leaves, flowers, candles, and joss sticks on rivers and lakes. These little floats are supposed to bring good luck and make one’s wishes come true. The students made these floats themselves during an art class.
Our American English teacher, Channing, celebrated Thanksgiving with the students on November 27. She had the students create hand turkeys and reflect upon what they are most thankful for. The students were thankful for many things, ranging from family to good health to friends to music.
The next important celebration was Thai Fathers Day, which is celebrated on His Majesty King Bhumibol's birthday on December 5. In the morning, the HDS students had special lessons on the history of Thailand and its monarchy, and in the afternoon the students and staff of DEPDC held a ceremony to wish a Happy Birthday, good health, and a long life to His Majesty.
Finally, Christmas time approached and HDS English students participated in the “A lifetime of Christmas Cards”-project for Addie Fausett, a six years old girl suffering from a terminal disease, sending handmade Christmas cards to her to show kindness and to instill a central theme of Christmas: showing goodwill to all mankind.
On Christmas Day, our Christian students had the chance to stay at home to celebrate Christmas with their families and friends.
On the day after Christmas, HDS made a field trip the Tham Luang-Khun Nam Nang Non - Forest Park. In the morning, there were special lessons on the various fauna and flora native to Northern Thailand and Mae Sai District. After lunch, the students made a trip to the main cave before the children went swimming at a lake nearby.
Finally, the New Years vacation gave the students and staff of DEPDC a very much welcomed break to relax.
The staff, volunteers, and the students of HDS would like to extend a kind thank you to all of our generous donors. It is only because of the continuing and constant support of people like you that DEPDC is able to perform its mission to make a positive difference in the lives of children who are at risk of being trafficked into the commercial sex industry or other forms of exploitive labor.
Thanks to everybody and we wish everyone a Happy New Year!
The Half Day School (HDS) Program aims to provide a well-rounded education. Apart from a foundation of traditional academic subjects, students learn practical vocational skills and have frequent opportunities to development themselves and their community awareness, along with other critical life skills. Half Day School students often take educational field trips to learn firsthand about the issues that their natural and social environments face, as these have a direct impact on and can even be threats in the children's daily lives.
In July 2014, students participated in a trek to Wat Phra That Doi Tung, where they studied the ethnic minority communities that they each belong to and about neighboring communities in the surrounding the Mekong Sub-region.
Wat Phra That Doi Tung is a wat (temple) which sits at the peak of Doi Tung (Mount Tung), the tallest mountain in Chiang Rai Province, at approximately 1,400 meters above sea level. The field trip began as students piled into the school bus to make the steep and circuitous journey. They talked and laughed as the bus wound and climbed toward the starting point of their 2-kilometer hike to the base of the temple's naga stairs.
Once to the temple, Half Day School teachers organized the students for group work by grade. The groups were assigned different types of communities to examine: the family, the village, Thailand, Asia, and the global community. The activity emphasized the importance of human rights and environmental conservation, and how these issues are related to the well-being of all these communities.
After a day of hiking, learning, and games, it was time to head back down the mountain. Smiley but tired students were ready to relax and have a quiet bus ride back to each of their villages in Mae Sai. The next day at school, each group presented their work and teachers further discussed with the children the issues which affect these communities.
In September 2014, Half Day School students enjoyed the school's annual nature camp activities. This year's theme was Life Skills Development. Students and teachers camped for 4 days and 3 nights at the Mae Chan Watershed Conservation and Management Center, about 50 kilometers from the Half Day School site.
Half Day School teachers organized a wide variety of camp activities, ranging from domestic violence workshops and lighthearted interactive games, to a nature trek and tree planting guided by rangers from the Center. When students and teachers arrived to the campsite, they settled into their cabins and visited hot springs located nearby the campsite. On the afternoon of the second day, Half Day School teachers and International Volunteers of DEPDC / GMS (Mae Sai) led team games and relay races to get the children moving and enjoying the fresh air.
On Day 3, rangers guided students and teachers on a 2-kilometer trek and taught the students how to plant saplings in the Center's reforestation area. Half Day School teachers discussed and re-capped camp's activities with the children on the final day before everyone returned home to Mae Sai. Students remarked on the things that they liked most about this year's camp, which included that: they felt free and happy to be in nature; they got to observe the local flora and wildlife up close; they enjoyed spending time with their friends; their teachers and park guides were friendly and caring; they felt more responsible while away from their families; they liked the freshly cooked meals, especially around the camp fire.
We look forward to keeping you informed of our Half Day School students' growth and progress, and about the hardworking, compassionate teachers and staff members who teach and lead them throughout theschool year. Many thanks for helping us to make the Program possible!
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Director of Mae Sai Projects