Three months ago, I applied for a volunteer placement with an organization in northern Thailand. DEPDC is a Thai-run NGO founded 20 years ago by a man named Sompop Jantraka who has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his life’s commitment to ending child trafficking.
DEPDC works on the prevention side of human trafficking by offering educational programmes and vocational training to at-risk individuals. They also provide emergency shelter for abused and abandoned children as well as assist with repatriation. They also sponsor a youth leadership program to combat trafficking in the Mekong Sub-Region and human rights training for undocumented migrants and indigenous people.
I was attracted to the DEPDC for many reasons: they work in both prevention and rehabilitation; they are Thai-founded which means once international volunteers leave, the needs of the community are still met and they know best how to work within their society; they have been operating for 20 years and are well received in the area; and they do not charge volunteers a hefty placement fee like many other organizations do.
Applying for a volunteer placement is a lot like applying for a job. It takes time, dedication, follow through, references and an application as to what your intent and skills are. I had a Skype interview with the volunteer coordinator two days before I got on the plane. I left the U.S. not knowing if I would have a placement once I arrived. I left trusting that I would find a placement on the ground if the DEPDC did not take me. But I don’t have to worry about that now.
They informed me last night that my application and interview received yeses all around and I am welcome to join the DEPDC as a volunteer! This is incredible! It’s all falling into place. I did not come to Thailand to hang out on the beaches (although a couple of days couldn’t hurt, right?). I left an unfulfilling desk job to do something meaningful with my days – something I have dreamt about for a decade. I am thrilled and grateful to have a placement and to start this next chapter of my life. Saddle up.