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From disaster to ‘Fab’-ulous”: NFF builds on innovation with Field Ready

From disaster to ‘Fab’-ulous”: NFF builds on innovation with Field Ready

Starting a new aid program in a conflict- or disaster-affected area is challenging – and can seem impossible when faced with the upheaval wrought by monster storms, earthquakes, wars or displacement.

Yet that hasn’t fazed the Next Fab Foundation, which has supported successful aid projects with Field Ready in some of the world’s most challenging areas. And those successes have expanded exponentially, aiding many more people than originally envisioned.

In 2016, FabFoundation funding helped Field Ready establish the Rescue Tech program to “invent, fix and make useful things, to train others in advanced technological and innovation skills” in Northwest Syria. The country was already six years deep into a brutal conflict, and the program aimed to boost humanitarian efforts there by focusing on search and rescue in the war-torn region.

Next Fab Foundation has supported successful aid projects in some of the world’s most challenging areas.

FabFoundation’s support helped us build an extraordinary program that offered engineering expertise to area residents while guiding their efforts to develop critical, locally made search-and-rescue equipment. In addition to helping recruit engineering staff in Syria and an international research team, we set up a fabrication workshop in Idlib where team members designed and manufactured lifting airbags to help extract people trapped under collapsed buildings.

Locally made from deployed airbags culled from bombed-out cars and trucks, the upcycled rescue airbags cost just 1/10th as much as an all-new imported product unavailable in Syria. The airbags – which can lift up to 5 tons – have since saved more than 100 trapped Syrian civilians and protected hundreds of rescue workers. This is a truly ground-breaking achievement, and the bags are being produced in other conflict- and disaster-affected areas to save many more people.

The FabFoundation-supported team also designed and locally made an omni-antenna to dramatically cut the downtime of essential emergency communications equipment, again at 1/10h the cost of imported and unavailable products. That support helped initiate research and design of six other search-and-rescue items.

In 2017, FabFoundation backed our partnership with Kudra to build The Social Innovation Lab in Gaziantep, Turkey. Along with Kudra, an NGO that helps set up effective and sustainable comprehensive developmental programs, we trained eight people in digital design and fabrication using 3D printers to make humanitarian supplies and helped The Social Innovation Lab launch other trainings and innovation sessions.

The successful development of humanitarian items and training not only garnered global interest and praise, it served as a gateway for growth.

Today, Field Ready’s local partners staff two makerspaces in Syria and are working with nearly 50 hospitals to rebuild the region’s decimated healthcare system piece by piece as they repair critically needed medical devices. The hospitals – which serve nearly 1 million people – have already received 60 renewed items from our team, including repaired air compressors, infant warmers, centrifuges, sterilizers and ECGs.

That earlier-supported work also helped us win a Humanitarian Grand Challenge grant for our current Global COVID-19 PPE Program, which will help provide infection control for 100,000 frontline workers in Bangladesh, Iraq, Kenya and Uganda.

And it’s led to a Next Fab Foundation-supported partnership in Lebanon to aid victims of the massive explosion there last fall. Field Ready will work with local partners in Beirut to identify and help local manufacturers produce shelter components and furniture to provide at least 10 families with rehabilitated homes.

Next Fab Foundation’s backing has translated to immense humanitarian aid progress for tens of thousands of people – we look forward to their next success.