Using technology to overcome poverty

Mark Pinoli

Founder of Logged On

Mark Pinoli has travelled the world, has two UWA degrees under his belt, and on top of all that, he’s an award winning documentary filmmaker. But one of his greatest achievements so far is founding Logged On, a charity organisation that creates educational opportunities for children in Nepal; one of the poorest countries in the world.

“What I have learned from working with students at UWA and from my own personal experience is how difficult it can be to reconcile your dreams, passions and what you want to do and be in the world with what is available to you in society. How can you match this with that perfect job?”

Mark Pinoli

Logged On provides technology and resources to schools in Nepalese communities, giving children the chance to learn valuable computer skills. By combining his knowledge of science and social anthropology with his love of the Himalayan region, Mark is working to create a brighter future for children in Nepal.

His journey began when he started studying Physics at UWA. He graduated with Honours in 1992 and worked with a research group studying gravitational waves. Mark was the principle author of a research paper that was published at the conclusion of the project.

Mark’s interest in physics led to his curiosity in philosophy: the answer to The Question: the meaning of life, the universe and everything. He enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy, and soon decided to major in social anthropology. Meanwhile, he worked at UWA as a residential tutor and Assistant to the Principal of University Hall.

A long time admirer of Eastern Religions and the Himalayan region, Mark and a friend spent six months travelling around India and Nepal upon completion of his second degree.

“Our first trip together sparked a profound connection with the Himalayan region and its people that has kept me going back for almost two decades.”

 Mark returned to UWA to complete his Honours in Social Anthropology, and was awarded a scholarship to study postgrad at the Australian National University. This scholarship led to his position as the Assistant Director of Australian Research and Policy at the Academy of Social Sciences in Canberra. 

“I was responsible for managing an active national inter-disciplinary social science workshop program for bringing researchers, State and Federal Government policy makers together to discuss issues of national importance.”

During this time, Mark frequently travelled back to the Himalayan region. He trekked the mountains of Northern India, Tibet and Nepal, and started filming the region and its people. He was struck by the lack of opportunities available to the people of Nepal.

“I had the opportunity of a university education and the financial security to be able to make choices about what I wanted to do. When I’m in Nepal, I see so many young people that just don’t have those opportunities or the luxury of choosing what will fulfil them in life. Many of them have very little life choices.”

Mark Pinoli

In 2011, Mark was shown a photo of a school in Nepal trying to teach their students computer science using dilapidated computers.

“I was never quite settled in any one job and was only partially satisfied. I was always looking for something that could fulfil everything I was passionate about. It was at a critical moment that I broke with the idea of looking outside for that ideal path and decided to create my own path.”

“I felt uneasy about returning time and time again to the villages in the mountains as a tourist. If I was ever asked for money by locals, it was usually for a donation to help the local school. So when there was an opportunity to help one school with a project to help bring computers and the internet for education, I instantly saw the opportunity to be able to help these communities that bought together all my abilities and passions.”

It was in 2011 that Mark founded Logged On. Working closely with Nepalese communities, Logged On helps provide the resources, information, skills and technology schools in Nepal need to create more educational opportunities for local children.

When Nepal was devastated by a series of earthquakes in early 2015, Logged On conducted extensive online fundraising, and organised charity dinners in Perth and Melbourne, to help people in Nepal cope with the disaster.

“I made three trips to affected areas in Nepal following the earthquake to oversee the assistance programs and during that time filmed the impact the disaster had on communities and the struggles they now face to provide a quality education for their children. A documentary was produced in early 2016 that won an international documentary film award. The film was also recently screened at UWA.”

Mark PInoli

Mark’s work has only just begun, with Logged On still helping to rebuild schools in disaster-affected areas. But his passion and commitment to this cause is truly inspiring, as Logged On continues to give children in Nepal the tools they need to break out of poverty.

 “Having the physical and social scientific training at UWA equipped me with the knowledge to start that journey. It opened the doors into employment opportunities at UWA and elsewhere that gave me the confidence and experience to create my own path. I feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to bring together my cross-cultural and IT skills, love of travel and cultures, passion for film and photograph in one endeavour that focuses on helping less fortunate kids.”

“Pursuing the impossible means using every bit of what you have learned at university, all of your experiences, your resilience and tenacity to create a space that never exist before. Never take no for an answer, invite others to share that beautiful space you have worked hard to create, and then you realise the word possible is far more real and relevant than the word impossible.”

Mark Pinoli

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