Today marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day – a worldwide movement to empower women and girls, eradicate poverty, promote education and economic empowerment, and uplift women’s positions in societies across the globe.
I spent the day in a six-hour meeting with the International Department and Directing Team here at DEPDC. There were many issues to discuss. DEPDC supports 11 different projects internally and many of the projects are currently underfunded. It’s no surprise that NGOs are suffering in the current economic crisis. Budgets are not decreasing but purses are cinching shut. It means NGOs must find new sources of income and get creative in their fundraising capacities. If you are interested in making a monetary donation to DEPDC, large or small, please visit our donation page!
Until today, I’d had only a little exposure to DEPDC’s founding father, Sompop Jantraka. Today I was able to see him in action, hear him speak and talk directly with him about many issues. He amazes me in his approachability, down-to-earth nature and utter selflessness. Sompop does not care to the hero or center stage in any way. A humble man with a warm and gentle smile, Sompop has an air of comfortability that puts everyone in his presence at ease. He knows the issue of human trafficking inside and out. He is not naive in his approach and can tell you stories that would make your head spin. He understands, certainly better than I do, that the police, immigration officials and GOs are as corrupt as the traffickers in this region and oftentimes have a direct role in how it plays out. He believes, like I do, that government is not the full answer.
Governments by nature are corrupt and therefore cannot solve the very problems they help create and/or perpetuate. He understands that the big bureaucrats – UNIAP, TRAFCORD, et al. – are often inefficient and ineffective. Yet to say these organizations do nothing is incorrect. Therein lies the rub. I’m awed by his spirit, tenacity, dedication and experience. And so, on this day to celebrate women, I am ironically celebrating a man. A man who has dedicated his life to the prevention of human trafficking of both boys and girls. Sompop has dedicated his life to improving the lives of these at-risk children. He is a hero in so many ways.
When I told Sompop that today marks the 100th celebration of International Women’s Day, his response was something like this, “That is why we have such strong, motivated and capable women volunteering with DEPDC.” I cannot say that men are not a part of the solution. They most certainly are. We have some of the best men I’ve met on our team fighting the good fight. But it must be said that 80% of the volunteers here at DEPDC are and have been women. I salute the women of the world who have dedicated their lives to service of those less fortunate. I am amazed by your strength, courage, dedication, and ability to righteously kick ass!