Openmind Projects in Southeast Asia
Openmind Projects, the special NGO in Asia
Openmind Projects, a small local organization with local people helping local people is a nonprofit NGO, based in Thailand and active in Southeast Asia.
To our help we have a large support network of volunteers and advisors around the world. They help us in local projects too.
Openmind Projects was founded in 2002 because poor girls and boys in Southeast Asia get very limited, if any quality education. They end up as farm hands, subsistence farmers or guest workers.
We want to give them another chance!
The Birth of Openmind Projects
Openmind Projects was born in 2001, as IT in Isan, www.itinisan.org, a pilot computer-training project in Northeast Thailand, called Isan. The idea was that IT could be a poor man’s best help when other education is limited or poor. Give people a chance to learn and to use IT! The first three projects took place in two orphan homes and a village!
Sven Mauleon, international consultant from Sweden met Gaweechat Joompaula, a rice farmer’s son from Thailand, who was eager to help local kids to learn by showing, not teaching. We called it DED, Demonstrate (make the kids interested) then let them Explore on their own and hey will Discover, (learn) what they can do. Learning by Doing, and showing their friends!
Our ideas worked!
Ever since then we apply our Learning by Doing method to all projects, teaching English, IT training, other topics at our Center with our trainees and at our Learning Camps with our Campers and in the field projects!
Opportunities with Openmind Projects
Many Opportunities at our Center
Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are invited to our Learning Camps. Everything is free.
Local volunteers are also welcome.
International volunteers and interns are welcome to work at our Center, our Learning Camps and in field projects, schools, villages, national parks, special projects.
Openmind Projects Training Center in the Heart of Indochina, Isan, the Northeast of Thailand
Our volunteers and interns can stay at our Training Center or a guesthouse.
New volunteers are welcome to a free volunteer training week with a three-day workshop, arranged monthly.
Volunteers can train our trainees while also teaching children at local schools, temples and a juvenile center for boys.
Local trainees stay on a rotating basis. They come from Thailand, Laos, Myanmar or Cambodia.
We also arrange for Learning Camps and arrange evening classes for local children and Buddhist monks.
Our Center is simple, local standard and consists of one building with an office and training room plus bedrooms and bathrooms. The second building has three bedrooms and a bathroom. Outside there are some relax areas and a ball court.
Wi-Fi is available everywhere and our trainees are encouraged to look after an organic garden and grow vegetables.
Openmind Projects Cofounders - East meets West
Sven Mauleon from rich Sweden, and Gaweechat Joompaula, from a poor Thai village, are the co-founders who set out to find ways to use IT to help the poor.
Sven focus on development and brings extensive international experience to Openmind Projects. Gaweechat is the operating and IT manager, self-taught always eager to learn, with new ideas, a true role model to his local people!
Sven: ‘I had an idea to bridge knowledge divides. Now we bridge culture divides too!’
Gaweechat: ‘I grew up without electricity. Then I got a chance to learn to use computers to help other people. I believe in learning by doing. Let people take responsibility for their learning.’
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.