Members of the Generation Peace Academy (GPA) on March 13, 2012 returned from a service trip in Thailand where they had contributed time and effort with several organizations combating sex trafficking.
Their first project was with the Development and Education Programme for Daughters and Communities (DEPDC). The organization works to protect and empower children from communities where they are at risk of being pulled into the sex industry.
At the DEPDC’s school center, GPA helped out with a variety of projects, including opening up more space for sports for the children, building a plant nursery, and teaching classes on ballroom dancing, origami, English- and Japanese language lessons and martial arts.
Their biggest project with the DEPDC was a cultural sports event the school put on for all of the children. Before the games began, the head of the ministry of tourism and sports made a 5000-Thai-Baht scholarship to GPA, which Rev. John Gehring (on behalf of Rev. In Jin Moon) passed on to the DEPDC.
GPA members spent the afternoon participating in a variety of sports with the 140 students. Events included relay races, soccer and tug-o-war. Through their work with the DEPDC, GPA helped build a better environment for the children at the center and encouraged the children to look upon them as older brothers and sisters.
GPA also worked with the Pavena Foundation for Children and Women. Ms. Pavena Hongsakula, former minister of the Prime Minister Office of Thailand and former deputy minister of labor and social welfare, founded the non-profit organization (NGO) with the goal to help those who have been abused. The NGO provides support and teaching skills to open up new opportunities in the lives of the victims.
GPA worked at the Pavena Foundation’s support center where victims of abuse come for free consultations and to seek help, including legal support or physical and mental rehabilitation. At the center, GPA members helped with beautification projects around the property and played with the children living at the center’s safe houses.
During their time with the Pavena Foundatio, members of GPA attended a conference titled “Human Trafficking: A Crime Against Human Dignity.” The event was co-sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Women’s Federation for World Peace – Thailand (WFWP). In attendance at the conference was Etienne Clement, deputy director of UNESCO Bangkok, Gen. Terdsak Merrome, president of Universal Peace Federation – Thailand (UPF), the president and vice president of WFWP – Thailand, Police Col. Panya Pinsook, as well as several distinguished guests.
At the conference, speakers covered topics such as the definition of “human dignity,” and what efforts are being made to prevent human trafficking.
On the last day at the Pavena Center, two local news teams came to cover the work that GPA had been doing.
Another significant part of the trip was GPA’s meeting and involvement with the Thailand Unificationist community and Thailand Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP). GPA attended Sunday service at the Bangkok Peace Embassy, went bowling with several youth from the Bangkok church, and met many CARP members from Bangkok, Chang Rai and even Chang Mai.
During their time in Thailand GPA was also able to do some sight-seeing to develop a greater appreciation for the culture and natural beauty of the nation. Outings included hiking to Khunkorn Waterfall, visiting the famous White Temple, and going on a one-hour tour of Ruammit Village by way of elephant.
Contributed by Brian Tassey in Bangkok.