Safe Shelter & Education for 15 Girls in Thailand

by DEPDC
Vetted
Lahu tribe village
Lahu tribe village

This new update from the shelter in Chiang Khong comes with some exciting news. The shelter has now moved on from DEPDC to become an independent organisation under the name of Children Rights Protection Centre Chiang Khong (CRP-CK). It’s still early days, but we have some exciting ideas and projects down the pipeline and we’re hoping to get the whole of the community in Sathan on board.

Aside from providing 24/7 support to now seven girls living on-site, we are also reaching out to children and young people who are at risk and/or living in poverty in the surrounding villages. Last week, together with one of the project’s kind sponsors who came to visit us, we went to check up on some of them.

Our first stop was Lana from the Lahu tribe (all names have been changed for the protection of identity). Lana’s story is a difficult one, but not at all unique, especially among the hill tribes where people are mostly stateless and so they get no support from the Thai state.

 Only 15 y.o., she is now effectively the head of her family, taking care of her younger 10 y.o. sister and ill mother. Her father, battling drug addiction and mental illness, she barely sees. Her mom, originally from Burma has no recourse to public funds and with no other income they are now effectively homeless.

 On this occasion she welcomed us on the porch of a friend, an elderly lady who took all three in while her son is working in Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand’s commercial hub. An informal and temporary arrangement that will take them through the rainy season. Their monthly household budget now stands at 1200 Baht (about 36 dollars), a scholarship P’tuu has organised for her, plus other kind donations like the bags of rice, noodles and medical supplies we brought for her.

But Lana is a brave girl! She is determined to keep up with her school and can imagine a better future. Inspired by some of the training given by local NGOs in her school, she showed us the materials she had prepared for her own presentation on sexual education. She will be teaching other children in the village how their bodies are changing and how to cope with this in a healthy way. Also, she is trying to increase her income by selling beautifully made traditionally sewn cloth her mother taught her to make. The design is gorgeous, but it also takes her about one month to finish something she will probably get about 500 baht for (less than 15 dollars). Something to think about next time a locally handmade dress/bag/bracelet costs 5 dollars more than the shop variety.

She is just one of the young people who are living in extreme poverty, and we are trying so lend a hand. We will go see her again in a couple of months to check up and also bring her some new supplies.

 

 

 

 

Lana
Lana's work

Another 3 months has gone by since our last update on the Shelter in Chiang Khong. When we had our de-briefing with Ms. Puangthong Takan, we were told everything was running quite smoothly. Since the summer holidays began around the 10th of March, all of the girls in the shelter had family homes that they were able to go and stay at.

The first major update that P’Too had for us was that of the 15 girls in shelter, 8 just finished grade 9 in March. 4 of these girls plan on attending Chiang Rai Provincial Woman Vocation Center in Phan District, Chiang Rai Province. When the girls come back on the 5th of May, there will be 6 living in the shelter full time. 16th of May is the beginning of a new school year in Chiang Khong.

When we arrived at Chiang Khong, a new development greeted us. What was an old platform house for many years, was renovated into a new classroom for the children. Newly built in early April. Fitted with a chalkboard and even some storage space at the back.

Unfortunately, however there was some unpreventable damage done to our Chiang Khong Centre due to a bad stretch of weather. P’Too could only describe it as a tornado! Luckily no one in the centre was injured, as a number of coconuts that fell from the tree in the garden crashed through the roof of the centre in 4 places. This caused damage to the office where documents and even the computer was weather damaged.

We would like to give thanks to everyone that has made this past year possible and we look forward to seeing the students again in May 2015.



The shelter
The shelter's new classroom.
Damage to the kitchen
Damage to the kitchen's roof.

Links:

Creative writing training.
Creative writing training.

Three months have passed by since our last report from Chiang Khong. The girls have enjoyed their term break, during which some of the girls had the chance to visit their parents. The new term (which is the last one for some of our girls before graduation) started and New Year passed by.

On January 24th and 25th a group from Thai PBS, a major Thai TV station, came to DEPDC's Chiang Khong Shelter to do a short film workshop.

This year's workshop was the second one organized in a cooperation of local NGOs with Thai PBS. Besides DEPDC, two other NGOs from Chiang Rai Province participated in the workshop's organization. Krong Gaan Kiang Rim Kong (Project at the Mekong Riverbank) from Huai So, Chiang Khong District, and Suun Puea Nong Ying (Center for Girls) from Mae O, Phan District, both in Chaing Rai Province.

On Saturday morning, the workshop's participants received introductory lessons into creative writing, acting, video and audio equipment, acting, and recording. The afternoon was taken up by creative writing and acting training.

On Sunday, three groups of five girls produced their own short movies that will be edited and finalized with the support of Thai PBS's staff.

The short movies this year will be focusing on 'Commercial sexual exploitation of children' (CSEC).

Last year's short movie (please find youtube-link attached below [Lahu with Thai subtitles]) was produced by five girls from DEPDC's Chiang Khong Shelter and is called Stories from a Diary. The movie tells the story of Nagaya's difficult transition from elementary school to secondary school. It mainly focused on the dichotomy between the dream of studying on to find a good job in the future and the necessity to support the family income by dropping out of school and going to work in one of the big cities now.

The staff, volunteers, and the girls of the Chiang Khong Shelter would like to thank every generous donor. It is only because of the continuing and constant support 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!

Introduction into video equipment.
Introduction into video equipment.
Scene 1, Take 1, #1!
Scene 1, Take 1, #1!

Links:

P
P'Too (most right) during life skills training!

Spotlight on Ms. Puangthong Takan (P' Too), Director and the woman who does it all

 

Since our last report three months ago, the monsoon season passed by, and the cold season is approaching. The girls at the Chiang Khong Shelter finished their term and are on their mid-year holiday right now. In the case that staying at their parents' home is safe, the girls will use this chance to stay with their families for the duration of the holidays.

As it is safe for most girls to stay with their families during this period one might think this could also be a time to relax for P' Too, our director at the Chiang Khong Shelter, but for her only the tasks change. She is not only the director of the shelter but also engaged in various other activities related to child protection.

As our project has a long history in Chiang Khong it is very well connected with other organizations, like NGOs, GOs, private businesses, and local communities. This makes our shelter also to a point of contact for emergency cases that need immediate action to be taken. Taking care of these emergency cases is one of the important tasks that P'Too manages alongside her work as director and caregiver at our Chiang Khong Shelter.

In the short period of the last three months, P'Too has had to take care of seven of these emergency cases. Four girls and three boys came into the situation that they had to be placed into a shelter immediately.

The last case concerned a 9-year-old girl from a village close to Chiang Khong whom lived together with only her farther. Her aunt contacted the shelter at Chiang Khong. She was worried about the safety of her niece, because her father is an alcoholic and was neglectful toward his daughter most of the time. She was often forced to stay home from school, because she had to take care of her farther and his friends while they were inebriated.

P'Too was finally able to receive permission to get the girl out of this situation and successfully placed the girl into our Chiang Khong Shelter for a few days until a long-term solution was found at a shelter in Chiang Rai.

In addition to the direct work with children, P'Too is very active in the field of monitoring the situation and development of human trafficking.

We would like to thank everybody for their help and generosity given, thus allowing the Chiang Khong Shelter to provide safety and education to the girls living there. The money donated insures the shelter’s continuing long-term impact on the lives and the chances in the future of these special young women.

Life skills training at the Chiang Khong Shelter!
Life skills training at the Chiang Khong Shelter!
P
P'Too during a workshop!

Links:

Team-building Activities at the Girls Shelter
Team-building Activities at the Girls Shelter

Since our last report in May 2014, life in Northern Thailand goes on with the Southeast Asian monsoon season bringing rain nearly every day. The 15 girls of the safe shelter are back to school and the director of the project in Chiang Khong, Ms. Puangthong Takan, recently received a visit from three International Volunteers who work at the DEPDC / GMS Mae Sai site to explain the main human trafficking issues and processes in the region. So, this an occasion to give further explanation about our organization's effort to fight against child trafficking in the region, which is not limited to this safe shelter project.

The location of this safe shelter for vulnerable ethnic minority girls was chosen strategically. International border areas are often critical areas for all kinds of trafficking. The Thai – Lao border is especially sensitive for human trafficking, because of the difference of economies between Thailand and Laos and because of the ease to cross the Mekong River which separates the two countries.

The recent increase in Thailand's national minimum wage to 300 baht (about 10 USD) per day has led to an increase in the recruitment of cheaper labour from Laos, since most businesses cannot afford to pay local (Thai) labourers at this rate. Furthermore, this region is not as developed as other parts of Thailand. It is mainly rural and many different ethnic groups live there, such as Thai Yuan, Leu, Lao, Kamu, Yao, Lahu, Mong, Chinese Hor, and Akha.

The Chiang Khong safe shelter is home to 15 girls, who are at very high risk of being forced or lured to into exploitative work, especially the commercial sex industry. This solution is envisaged when a girl’s environment (family or caretakers) is unsafe for her. The protection project provides them with a safe place to live and grow, an opportunity to study in public school (scholarship, uniform, educational supplies…), healthcare, food, and an on-going variety of vocational and life-skills trainings.

The work of this project is not limited to shelter protection of the 15 girls, however. Despite its limited capacity to host these children at risk, project staff also oversee a wide range of field research and intervention work. They first identify the children who are most at risk of being trafficked in poor, vulnerable villages and then conduct prevention work through awareness-raising workshops directly to their communities. There is also provision of financial assistance to vulnerable non-resident children to cover their school fees, because the project's mission aims to provide access to education as the first critical step in the prevention of child trafficking.

The Chiang Khong protection project is also the origin of an efficient prevention and protection network that involves governmental and non-governmental organisations, schools, health and social services, and concerned village residents. The network collaborates with the children's families and communities on many issues related to human trafficking such as HIV/AIDS prevention and care, drug addiction awareness and treatment, statelessness, child and labour rights, and child abuse prevention.

We would like to thank you so kindly for your help and generosity, which allows the safe shelter protection project to have a deep, long-term. and responsible impact at all stages of the child trafficking prevention process.

A Successful Life Skills Camp
A Successful Life Skills Camp
Safety and Friendship at the Shelter Home
Safety and Friendship at the Shelter Home

Links:

 

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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

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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