Opened in December 2018 by Terre des Hommes (TdH), the Fabrication Laboratory (FabLab) in Severodonetsk is a safe space, specifically designed for war-affected children and young people. “Children and youth affected by war can access an innovative environment where they remain engaged with education, learn new technologies, and work together” says Alina Ivanova, TdH FabLab Officer.
Located in the Luhansk Region, within the premises of the University Volodymyr Dal, this open, collaborative, and modern space has welcomed around 400 children and youth, 12-21 years old, from remote communities that have been affected by the protracted military conflict. The aim is to bring together children and youth from different backgrounds, such as internally displaced and host communities. TdH has offered transportation services to ensure the active participation of adolescents from the remote areas.
innovation and resilience, one step at a time
The lab offers a holistic and participatory learning package. With 46% of female participants, gender roles in learning are aligned and collaboration is encouraged. Children and youth learn new technologies, innovative thinking, manufacturing and other vocational skills. The lab is equipped with a diverse range of digital production devices: 3D printers, laser and vinyl cutters, and embroidery machines. Children and young people bring their ideas forward and create their prototypes. “It is very exciting: all the processes, all the machines are much more interesting when you are actively involved and not only watching tutorials online”, says Alina, 16 years old.
after just three months of creative work, students from 15 secondary schools and professional lyceums of Luhansk Region also presented their prototypes at the Youth Family Festival. Youngsters developed agricultural technology models, mazes for logic development, and even the prototype of a quadcopter. Participation in the Festival has enabled young people to develop and strengthen engineering skills and increased their chances to find a job in this field in the future.
As well as acquiring technical know-how, children and youth also learn resilience, respect and collaboration. After six years of conflict in Easter Ukraine, more than 500,000 children struggle to cope with displacement and war. They often suffer from stress, anxiety, and lack of purpose in life. Alongside the technical skills, TdH provided psychosocial support to young participants to boost their wellbeing and increase their self-esteem and self-awareness. The lab serves as a meeting space, open to the public once a week: here, children and youth make new friends, cooperate and exchange ideas and experiences. This helps to increase the children’s sense of belonging in the society, which is vital to social inclusion, and peer-to-peer support: As explained by Danylo, 16 years old: “I want to make use of these new skills and pass it on to all of my friends”.
The mission of the lab is to boost the creative thinking of war-affected children and youth, technical and social skills, and access to vocational training and education. The lab provides a set of skills supporting the resilient entrepreneurs and employees of tomorrow.
“In the lab it became clear to me that a small step at a time can lead to the most ambitious goals” adds Danylo. And one step at a time, TdH is investing in Alina, Danylo and other war-affected boys and girls: a generation of change-makers, who will have a greater say in shaping the future of their country.