Joiy , Openmind Projects Lao trainee who became the popular Volunteer Coordinator and Trainer
Our Joiy moving on. Saying bye bye is always a bit sad, especially to a family member. Joiy has been part of our Openmind family for 7 years. He came to Openmind Projects from his home village in the Laos Mountains. He came as a trainee, grow up to become a very popular Volunteer Coordinator, helpful, always learning and liked by his OMP family, volunteers and campers! He is now following in the footsteps of many successful Open minders, becoming yet another role model to the youth in Laos and Thailand, like once upon a time TT, alias Gaweechat, now the Openmind manager. Joiy is evidence that given a chance the disadvantaged can rise from poverty and go on to a better future and even to help others! The is the very soul of Openmind Projects, give people chance, empower them and then let them go on, motivated and confident and lifelong learners! Joiy is now returning to his home country and taking up a job at a major hotel in Vientiane, one at the best (and most expensive) in Laos. Joiy, it has been a great pleasure to see you growing over the years, your English, your work with colleagues, trainees, campers and volunteers! From no English or IT skills you have come a long way, another of our great learners and always ambitious to learn more! We all wish you the best and look forward to work together in the future, helping more promising young Lao! Big Choc Dee from all of us to you Joiy! Sven for your Openmind Family! ------------------------------------------------ Read also volunteer Peter Stolp's, from Tasmania, story about Joiy! Joiy to the world, by Peter Stolp No it is not a misspelling, this story is about Joiy, that’s his Lao name; full name Joiy Vongnalath. Joiy is a member of the staff at Openmind Projects in Nong Khai Thailand. The spelling is unusual but the meaning is inescapable – Joiy’s joy is infectious. Joiy came to Openmind from Ban Hatkhai, a small Laotian village at the edge of Phou Khao Khouay National Protected Area. It is about 80km North-East of Vientiane. Joiy’s family is one of about 90 families that mostly live as subsistence farmers, growing rice and vegetables. Joiy’s parents are now too old to attend to the farm so this task has fallen to Joiy’s brother and his wife while Joiy’s parents care for the grandchildren at home. When Joiy finished at his High School some 14km from home he had little prospect for a job and even less so for further education. The only work available in the village was on the farm and his parents certainly could not afford to pay for education. Joiy ended up working at a tapioca starch factory at Nasone village half way between Vientiane and home. His brother had found the job for him. Joiy was keen to earn an income but the money was hard earned. Joiy lived at the factory grounds in a ten-person bunkhouse with little in the way of facilities. Because production at the factory was geared to the delivery of the tapioca from the surrounding farms there was often the need to work overtime. This left few opportunities for Joiy to go home. Such visits occurred only three to four time per year. His first job was in a team of two, stacking 50kg bags of tapioca powder onto wooden pallets. He eventually graduated to the bag filling area where he weighed the bags and sewed them shut. Joiy had a job but it seemed that this would be a job for life, not an attractive prospect. Joiy had hoped for something better. Something better came in the form of a visit to Joiy’s village by Pai, a girl from the village who had spent time at the Openmind Projects Centre. It was the time of New Year festivities and Joiy was home visiting his family. He met up with Pai and saw the transformation. Pai had left the village a year or two earlier as a shy little girl and had come back a confident woman. What’s more she came back with an Openmind volunteer with the intention of inviting young people from the village to join her at the Openmind Centre. Joiy was interviewed and along with a girl from the village was accepted as a trainee. Now, four years later, Joiy is the Openmind mainstay when it comes to caring for trainees and volunteers. Joiy came to Openmind without a word of English and with his only knowledge of computers coming from a photograph. Seeing this as a never to be repeated opportunity he tackled his learning with enthusiasm. He continues to learn with enthusiasm. Even now that he is fluent he continues to hone his skills; always keen to learn more, always listening for extra words and nuances. Joiy also came to be proficient in IT and handles a considerable proportion of the Centre’s administrative work. After two years as a trainee Joiy joined the Centre staff. That is where I met him – the friendly and enthusiastic face that met me when I arrived late on a Tuesday evening to volunteer at the Centre. I have been with Joiy every day for more than five weeks now and on every one of those days he has been bright, cheerful, accommodating, caring and loads of fun. He is a unique mixture of frivolity and formality. He organises boisterous evening activities for the trainees and teaches Thai to volunteers with the confidence of a seasoned teacher. He is a prime example of the power of Openmind’s mantra - ‘learning by doing.’ There s no doubt that Joiy is a ‘Joy to the world’.