About OpenmindProjects Foundation
We work around the globe to save lives, defeat poverty and achieve social justice.
We seek a world of hope, tolerance and social justice, where poverty has been overcome and all people live with dignity and security.
We believe in urgent action, innovation and the necessity of transformation—within the world and our own organization.
In 2001, we were IT learning pioneers in Northeast Thailand, dedicated to reducing poverty. We still are in Southeast Asia.
OpenmindProjects Foundation is an NGO active in Southeast Asia. Founded in 2001, registered in Thailand, 2/2556, and with a network of local people and a global network of supporters, we help village girls and boys to access better education. We work to unlock tech and innovation to serve the poor. Diversity and inclusion is in our DNA – it unlocks creativity and innovation. Breaking ethnic, cultural and gender barriers to reduce poverty, we bring different cultures, rich and poor, together to understand not only the opportunities of tech and 21st century learning, but also the problems of the poor. Right from our birth in 2001, we believed that tech will help the poor and we’re passionate about implementing practical solutions to do the job! We do this in our three pillars: a Training Center, Learning Camps, and villages. Our next ambition is to launch an online market place for villagers to be able to sell their products directly without middlemen. We do this with limited resources and depend on international support and donations.
Our pioneer in IT learning
Once upon a time…
There was IT in Isan, a pioneer IT project in Northeast Thailand, that was based on the idea that IT can be the poor man’s best way of escaping poverty. Two orphan homes and a village were the first projects to be instigated. DED was the motto: Demonstrate, show children what they can do with a computer, give them time to Explore, find out by themselves, and they will eventually Discover, learn and share what they learned with their friends.
IT in Isan became OpenmindProjects and since then we use this simple principle, Learn by Doing, for all projects – at our Training Center, our Learning Camps and in the villages.
Funding and Opportunities
Life changing and learning experiences for overseas volunteers who come to our Training Center, Learning Camps and field projects. They help while learning about other ways of life and about themselves. Local volunteers also come to help their friends and learn at the same time.
All volunteers who have confirmed and paid are invited to start at a monthly and free volunteer training at our Training Center.
Trainee and Camper Opportunities
Over the years many young people have come from poor villages in Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia to improve themselves at our Center and Camps.
They learn to learn, while they learn English, IT, about the world and the future together with Openmind projects people, staff, trainees and volunteers.
Life changing and learning experiences for young people who learn to help others while improving themselves with the help of local friends and international volunteers.
Funding and Support
Originally Openmind Projects was wholly supported by our cofounder Sven. Since then volunteer contributions have come play an important part.
Gaweechat and Sven work as volunteers and also continue to contribute to cover costs. Gaweechat’s rice farmer family has for many years supported our Training Center with food supplies.
During the past years our Learning Camps for migrants and ethnic minorities have been supported by the US Rotary Club of San Jose and a US family foundation. Donations from previous volunteers have also helped us improve our Center.
In the future we will, however, need significantly more donations to realize our ambitions, more camps and more trainees at our Center and online.
Cofounders Sven Mauleon and Gaweechat Joompaula
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 focuses on development and brings extensive international experience to Openmind Projects. Read About Sven in leading Swedish newspaper, Goteborgs Posten.
Gaweechat is the operating and IT manager, self-taught and always eager to learn more, with new and innovative 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.’
We are an established non-profit that has fought poverty with education, tech and volunteers, working like a movement with local and global volunteers and supporters.
In 2020 Covid disrupted our work on the ground. We decided on online programs and to restart on the ground when conditions allow.
We have pioneered IT learning in Thailand, for poor people implemented in practical solutions in our pillars: Training Center, Learning Camps and village field projects.
We invite overseas volunteers to help and offer them free training.
We have hosted 400 trainees. Some 3000 villagers from Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia have joined over 80 Learning Camps.
Volunteer contributions sustain work. Camps were supported by a US Rotary and family foundation.
- 2020 – 2021 Prepare and conduct online training.
- 2017 – 2019 We have been improving our learning and training methods and programs as well as our Learning Camps and train-the-trainer training.
- 2016 We arranged our first ‘Mobile Mountain Camps’ for Karen, Burmese migrant and refugee youth along the Thai-Myanmar border.
- 2013 We were invited to an international volunteer campaign and competition by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, “The Little Big Project”, to promote volunteering in Thailand and won with over a million votes receiving 5,000 USD which we donated to a saving endangered leatherback turtles project.
- 2012 We arranged our first Learning Camps at our Training Center in NongKhai, Thailand, and campers set up their own We Love Openmind Projects Facebook Group.
- 2010 We started working with Burmese and Karen migrants and stateless young people on the Thai-Myanmar border and also began inviting them to our Training Center.
- 2008 As finalists we were invited to the Stockholm Challenge, ICT for Development. Thai sponsors and and Swedish Saab helped us bring a group of five OpenmindProjects representatives to Sweden.
- 2007 We began inviting students from Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia to study at our Training Center.
- 2007 We visited projects in Cambodia and Nepal and decided to work with some local projects.
- CNN contacted us and wanted to recommend OpenmindProjects as one of the global ‘Be Your Own Change’ initiatives.
- We moved to our new Training Center in Nong Khai.
- 2005 After the tsunami Southeast Asia on the 26th of December, 2004, OpenmindProjects and its volunteers were some of the first to help bring aid to people together with the Rotary Club of Patong.
- 2004 We were invited to Laos to discuss support to sustainable ecotourism and community development. As a result we support several Lao communities and together with our volunteers we designed a website to promote Lao ecotourism, http://www.trekkingcentrallaos.com. And recruited volunteers to go there to help villagers.
- We also initiated an ecotourism and community project in Northeast Thailand, designed a website, made a video and sent volunteer to help villagers. The local homestay is now recommended by Lonely Planet!
- 2003 OpenmindProjects visited South Thailand, conducted teacher workshops, met national parks officers and agreed to support some schools with volunteers.
- 2002 We changed our name from IT in Isan to OpenmindProjects, designed our website to invite volunteers to teach IT and English to poor village children using our Learning by Doing way: let students learn something and then use what they learned immediately. No traditional rote learning, memorizing. See our Learning Idea. Our initiatives were featured in the Bangkok Post and recognized by UNESCO where cofounder Sven Mauleon also wrote about ecotourism in Thailand, ‘Going Ethno in Isan’.
- We opened our first very modest Openmind House for our first young trainees from an orphan home and a temple and for our first volunteers for whom we introduced our first volunteer and cross-culture training program, see today’s Volunteer Training version
- 2001 Sven initiated a pilot project at two orphan homes and one village to test IT learning for poor and isolated village children in Northeast Thailand, Isan, calling it IT in Isan. Gaweechat joined the project.
- We were invited to present our pilot training projects at the Asian Institute of technology, in an international conference, ‘Closing Gaps in the Digital Divide‘, sponsored by the Asian Development Bank.