3D Printing Human Rights: Refugee Open Ware Looks to Bring FabLabs to Conflict Zones

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refugee2Many of us living in the developed world often take for granted just how good we have it. Oftentimes we tune into the nightly news and see devastating photos of refugees living in camps within hostile conflict zones, not fully realizing how lucky we are. With very little to eat, and no abundance of clean clothing, these people just want safety for themselves and in many cases their families. Most of us say we care, but how many of us actually do something to help?

Most of us don’t realize how much of an issue this is, but the fact remains that over 1.5 billion people are currently living in conflict-affected areas worldwide. One thing is for sure though, there are people helping. Certainly not the majority — not even close to it — but there are volunteers who are willing to provide their time, money and energy to help make these people’s lives better.

Syrian Refugee Camps

Syrian Refugee Camps

One group, called Refugee Open Ware (ROW) is looking to help these refugees in a very unique way. They look to bring “disruptive technology” to these camps, and much of that technology is based around 3D printing.

“Our mission is to employ disruptive technology to improve human rights fulfillment for both refugees and host communities in conflict zones,” founders of ROW explain. “We seek to attenuate the immediate effects of conflict while driving long-term economic development, productivity growth, venture creation and employment generation. We develop open hardware innovation ecosystems, fueled by co-creation between refugees, host communities, and the best global resources in the world. We establish digital fabrication laboratories and innovation centers that provide the tools and training of the Third Industrial Revolution”

refugeeROW is actually a consortium focused on “humanitarian innovation” and made up of various groups, including; companies and public sector agencies, academic institutions, non-government organizations, and more.

ROW is looking to bring FabLabs to as many of these crisis locations as possible. In Jordan, they are looking to open the FabLab in a refugee camp. They will do this in Za’atari Camp, located on the Jordan-Syrian border. Housing 85,000 individuals who have fled from Syria, the camp currently does not have very much as far as resources go. The goal is to provide individuals at this camp with training in digital fabrication such as 3D printing as well as open-source hardware, enabling them to grow organically. At the same time, they estimate that over 200,000 amputations took place due to the recent wars in Syria. Because of this, ROW is currently fitting 3D printed prosthetic hands for these individuals. With the help of e-NABLE, they hope to expand upon this in the future.

“Our vision is to establish a National Innovation Center by building NextFab Amman in the King Hussein Business Park,” ROW explains. “The center will be outfitted with a full-range of digital fabrication equipment and will foster innovation at the intersection of disruptive technologies. New ventures will be supported by the Business Park’s start-up incubation facilities. By early 2016, we aim for the center to host Fab Academy training for Jordan and the entire region. “

ROW is continuously looking for new members, and asks anyone interested in lending a hand to contact them at [email protected] This includes corporation looking to become sponsors, NGOs looking to contribute expertise, foundations and donors looking to provide loans and grants, institutions willing to test new technology and conduct joint search, as well as individuals looking to simply lend a hand.

What do you think about this incredible initiative? Discuss in the Refugee Open Ware forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video below.

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