Openmind Projects an NGO, Charity, in Southeast Asia
Openmind Projects in Thailand and Asia
Openmind Projects is a small organization with great ideas and great people, a nonprofit NGO, charity, based in Thailand and now active in Southeast Asia.
Poor, young in Southeast Asia have very limited access, if any, to education. They may end up as farm hands, small scale subsistence farmers or worse. Many end up in low paid, risky jobs in factories, fishing fleets with near slave like conditions, dangerous construction jobs or in tourism and entertainment businesses where trafficking is a real threat, especially to migrant children!
Openmind Projects was born, 2001, as www.itinisan.org, a pioneer computer-training project in Northeast Thailand, Isaan, to help people to better learning opportunities. The idea was that IT could be the poor man’s best help if they get a chance to use it and learn to use it. The challenge was How to give poor young people this chance to learn. The first three pilot projects were therefore two orphan homes and a village! We placed computers at the orphan home and in the kitchen in a village house!
Sven Mauleon, from Sweden, asked Gaweechat Joompaula, a rice farmer son from Thailand, if he would like to help local kids to learn by showing, not teaching them, what they can do with a computer. We called it DED, Demonstrate (to make the kids interested) then let them Explore by themselves and find out, Discover, (learn) what they can do. Learn by Doing!
Our ideas worked!
Children liked to learn like that! Ever since then we apply our Learning by Doing approach to all our projects, teaching English to local people or teaching Thai, Lao to overseas volunteers, at our Center with our trainees and at our Learning Camps!
Over the years, Openmind Projects has learned and developed. Today we offer many opportunities to those who want to help and those who want to learn.
Opportunities with Openmind Projects
Volunteers and Internship Opportunities
We are looking for interns with a background and interest in Social Media, Travel Writing, Blogging, Videography and Photography, Grant Writing/Fundraising, Web Design and Development.
Opportunities for Young Southeast Asian Nationals.
Introducing our Training Center in Nongkhai, Northeast Thailand
Volunteers and Interns working with R&D stay at our Training Center or a guesthouse. Other interns can also stay at local field projects as agreed.
New volunteers are welcome and recommended to attend the free volunteer training week arranged monthly at our Center.
Many volunteers stay on to train our trainees who stay at the Center while also teaching children at local schools or temples.
Local trainees stay, on a rotating basis, at our Center. They come from Thailand, Laos, Myanmar or Cambodia.
We also arrange for Learning Camps for village children at our Center and sometimes arrange ‘evening classes’ for interested local children and Buddhist monks.
Our simple facilities (all is local standard) consist of one building with a staff office, training room for trainees and volunteers equipped with computers with internet and a small library plus some bedrooms and bathrooms. The second building has three bed and a bathroom. Outside you find rest and relax areas including a ball court and a kitchen with an eating area where our volunteers are invited to learn local cooking or to show our trainees foreign cooking!
Wi-Fi is available everywhere and we have an organic garden and grow vegetables the hydroponic way too.
Openmind Projects Cofounders - East meets West
Sven Mauleon, from affluent Sweden, and Gaweechat Joompaula, from a rural village in Thailand, are the co-founders of Openmind Projects. They set out together to find ways to use IT to help the poor. Sven’s focus is on developing the organization and the way we work, train and help people. He brings extensive international and Thailand experience to Openmind Projects. Gaweechat is now our operating and IT manager, a self-taught and true role model to local people!
Sven: ‘I had an idea to bridge knowledge divides between rich and poor with the help of IT. And now we bridge culture divides between local people and overseas volunteers too!’
Gaweechat: ‘I grew up without electricity in my village but I got a chance to learn to use computers to help other people. We believe in learning by doing. Let people like me take responsibility and learn from their trials and errors.’
Openmind Projects. Milestones and Recognition
Better learning methods
Fundraising to help more people
Our first ‘Mobile Camps’ for isolated Karen, Burma migrant students in the Thai Myanmar mountains, thanks to international sponsors.
They were very successful and popular and school will look to find finding for more learning camps in 2017.
Openmind Projects was invited to take part in an international campaign by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, “The Little Big Project”, to encourage volunteering in Thailand.
Openmind Projects won overwhelmingly with over a million votes winning 5000 USD which we donated to save endangered sea turtles.
We began to arrange for our own Learning Camps at our Nong Khai Center.
We connected with Burmese and Karen migrants, stateless, by the Thai Myanmar border to support local projects by recruiting volunteers to go there to help and donate computers to local projects.
We also began inviting Karen and Burmese students to our Training Center.
We were a finalist in the Stockholm Challenge, ICT for Development in 2008. Generous sponsors helped us to bring a group of five to present Openmind Projects work in Sweden.
We began inviting students from Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia to our special Learning Camps at our Training Center.
We improved our learning methods and began training our trainees to help run our Camps.
On to Cambodia
Openmind Projects visited Cambodia and Nepal, and decided to work with some local projects, and to invite trainees to our center and recruiting volunteer to the projects.
We were approached by CNN. They wanted to recommend Openmind Projects as one of the 'Be Your Own Change' initiatives.
We moved to our new Training Center, a former fitness center, which we converted to a Training Center!
We went to Laos, invited to support sustainable ecotourism and community development.
With volunteers we designed a website to promote Lao ecotourism, trekkingcentrallaos.com
And volunteers began to go there to help local villagers.
As a result, Openmind Projects initiated an ecotourism, community project in Northeast Thailand. We designed a website and made a video. Now the homestay is recommended by Lonely Planet, Ban Kham Pia , as one of the best in Thailand!
Openmind Projects expanded to South Thailand. We conducted teacher workshops and met national parks. After the tsunami on 26th December, 2004, Openmind Projects was one of the first organizations to help bring aid to people.
We changed name from IT in Isan to Openmind Projects, and designed a website to invite our own volunteers to help Thai village schools and children to learn IT and English. We have always practiced learning-by-doing, task based learning. Let students learn some skills and then apply it immediately. Or ask them to solve a problem, and to find out how to solve it. No traditional rote learning by heart!
Our initiatives were featured in The Bangkok Post and recognized by UNESCO.
And we opened our first very modest Center for trainees and volunteers.
And introduced our first volunteer training program.
We were invited to present our findings at an international conference, Closing Gaps in the Digital Divide, hosted by the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok and sponsored by the Asian Development Bank.
As a result international volunteers contacted us to help us.