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The first FabLab in East Ukraine focused on supporting children and youth affected by the conflict


On December 14, Terre des hommes and the East-Ukrainian National University “Volodymyr Dal” launched the first Fabrication Laboratory (FabLab) in Luhansk Oblast, Ukraine. The FabLab is located in Severodonetsk, on the premises of the University, and is open to students, school groups, and any interested person. In this innovative environment of creation, children and youth affected by the conflict will work together, develop their skills and materialize their own ideas in almost any field, from education to art and science. 

The Fabrication Laboratory or FabLab is a small-scale workshop equipped with digital production tools, such as 3D printer, laser and vinyl cutter, embroidery machines. By using diverse materials like wood, plastic, metal or cardboard, people can create simple objects or even complex projects in a FabLab. Terre des hommes (Tdh) initiated the FabLab in Severodonetsk in order to give children and youth the opportunity to access modern technology and to develop their social and professional skills in a creative environment.

This new space is an innovative way of reaching out to young people interested in technology. It works as a meeting place for children and youth, and promotes cooperation and exchange of ideas and experiences. Furthermore, Tdh aims to align gender roles through collaboration between boys and girls in learning. Trainings will be offered regularly, allowing youth to acquire new knowledge and abilities, and to implement their personal or community projects. The projects can range from producing small toys by a group of students to community engagement projects that involve teachers and parents.

"We are happy and proud to inaugurate the first FabLab in Luhansk. The children and teenagers in this region have less opportunities to engage in social interactions and the conflict is reducing their mobility and development opportunities. We are grateful to the Voldymyr Dal University for providing the space and committing to maintain the FabLab’s functioning while ensuring access for the public. This modern facility for education and creativity will welcome youth from the entire region. Tdh will support teenagers from outside the city of Severodonetsk to visit the FabLab and initiate their projects," said Ionut Raita, Director of Tdh Ukraine.

The FabLab is established as part of the "Ukraine Joint Response IV" project, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The project aims to support children and youth who are affected by the conflict. This new service complements a number of other services that Tdh has been providing in East Ukraine since 2014. Tdh set up child-friendly spaces in more than 150 schools in Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts, as well as trained teachers and other child protection professionals. 

Tdh started using the FabLab for education and humanitarian purposes in Greece in 2017, aiming to help young people and communities affected by the refugee crisis. Both refugees and locals use the space to transform into reality their ideas and to develop their skills while improving their integration and resilience. At the end of 2017, there were over 1200 FabLabs in the world. The wide network is spread on all continents and it offers unlimited free resources for design and project ideas. Anybody who is interested can find free software for 3D design as well as ready-made projects.