All the projects I will be involved in are at DEPDC/GMS, or the Development and Education Programme for Daughters and Communities. DEPDC is located in Mae Sai, which is the one of Northern Thailand's border towns with Burma. I have learned so much about this organization since coming here, and the more I learn about it, the more I get excited for all the work they are doing to prevent and combat human trafficking and the exploitation of children.
Let me give you a little background. DEPDC has various centres, all of which are located in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). The GMS used to be the largest exporter of heroin and methamphetamine in the world, and still is the 2nd largest exporter of opium (after Afghanistan). It is currently a hot spot for the trafficking of persons, both within the region, and into different areas of the world (exportation). This region is more commonly called the Golden Triangle.
DEPDC works mainly on the prevention side of human trafficking, rather on the more dramatic intervention and treatment side, although they currently operate a few isolated centres for rescued girls. Most of the children DEPDC works with are ethnic minorities, including stateless children from hill tribes, as well as migrants from neighboring nations (especially Burma).
DEPDC does this with a 4-pronged approach, which includes:
- DEPDC operates schools and vocational training centers for children
- Protection Program
- This includes DEPDC shelters for children rescued from trafficking
- Community Development and Outreach
- DEPDC operates a Community Learner Center, where they teach evening classes. They also operate a radio station and a hotline for people involved in trafficking, etc to call in. Each time they do, DEPDC opens a new case and investigates the claims made, often preventing or rescuing a child because of 1 phone call!
- Youth Leadership Development
- DEPDC currently operates a program called the Mekong Youth Net, which trains youth to be leaders against trafficking and exploitation in their home communities.
In operation since its inception in 1989, DEPDC has since helped 4,000 children, 96% of which have stayed out of prostitution. For more information on DEPDC, I love their blog.