DEPDC-GMS helps hundreds of slavery survivors and people at extreme risk in the 'golden triangle' region of Northern Thailand and Burma. People in this region are extremely vulnerable to slavery because they are members of the hill tribes - ethnic minorities who have citizenship in neither Thailand nor Burma. (Ethnic minority status is a risk factor for trafficking in all countries, including the US).
Hundreds of children and adults walk over the border from Burma each day to attend school or get other services at DEPDC's headquarters in Mae Sai. About 30 child survivors board at the school, and teens who grew up at the school are now attending high school or college in major cities, supported by DEPDC. DEPDC also provides help to people living with HIV/AIDS.
Made by Survivors partners with DEPDC to offer economic empowerment, both to older adolescents at the center, and to mothers and grandmothers in the community. The community women make beautiful handicrafts which Made By Survivors buys through DEPDC, helping to provide economic alternatives to the trafficking of daughters, and giving an additional incentive to keep the girls in school. Older teens and young adults at the DEPDC school also make handicrafts in their spare time, providing them with income and vocational training.
In 2008, we were able to help DEPDC install a new water treatment system, well, and water pump at the school and community center in Mae Sai, shown here with Made by Survivors' Becky Bavinger (far left) and Jen Munz (far right) and DEPDC girls. We also funded construction of a weaving center with looms for vocational training and artistic self-expression.
DEPDC was founded by Sompop Jantraka in 1990. Sompop had noticed that young girls in the community were disappearing. 'you would see them around until they were 10 or 11," he explained, "but after that they were just... gone". With the help of a Japanese journalist, Sompop conducted research and determined that the girls were being trafficked for sexual exploitation. In some cases, their virginity would be sold first at a local hotel - a truly torturous process sometimes lasting for days - and then the girls would be taken to cities in Thailand or Cambodia. Many never returned.
What we love about this partner is their commitment to ending trafficking for families and communities - not just individuals. Through large scale public awareness such as DEPDC's Mekong Youth Net radio programming, thousands of Thai young people learn about human trafficking and how to protect themselves from it. DEPDC-GMS offers opportunities, including nonformal education and health care, to the parents of children in their schools and other community members.
Learn more about DEPDC -GMS on their website, or help survivors and their families by buying these unique handicrafts reflecting the artistic ingenuity of the Hill Tribes: