Our Iraq makerspace partners broke new virtual ground recently; in a new collaboration, they produced 12,000 plastic toys for a large batch of our Surprise Soaps.
Team members at Erbil Innovation House in Erbil and IOT Maker in Baghdad joined with makers from 3D World in Dahok over the last two months to create the plastic toys, with each makerspace producing 4,000 figures, said Reuf Kapidzic, Field Ready's Middle East technical advisor. The three are part of the new Iraq Makers HIVE Network, a group of makerspaces that offer tech learning, creative and networking spaces and innovation opportunities in their communities.
"It's the first time that we've worked together, and a great way to show how we could all collaborate - for small makerspaces to do larger things together," Kapidzic said. "We produced 12,000 items in a short time, with a high level of production that went very smoothly."
The soaps, made with a soapmaking manufacturer in Baghdad, were project-managed by IOT Maker - who then delivered them to Action Against Hunger (ACF) in Basra late last month. They will be distributed to students aged 7 to 14 at about a dozen schools in Basra, Iraq, once schools there reopen.
Schools across the region were shut down after a severe COVID-19 outbreak there, and officials are hopeful they will be able to reopen for classes sometime next month.
The toys - animals and shapes that were chosen by the schoolchildren in a survey earlier this year - were open-sourced designs produced by 3D printing and laser cutting at the makerspaces.
Each toy was placed inside a 100-gram bar of soap; Field Ready designed the Surprise Soaps for children to encourage frequent handwashing. Motivated to get to the toy inside, children wash their hands more often with Surprise Soaps than with regular soap, studies have shown - which helps prevent disease spread and leads to healthier communities.
But the outreach doesn't end with the delivery. When the soaps are distributed, Field Ready team members from IOT Maker will visit the Basra schools to show children videos and lead workshops teaching good hand hygiene, Kapidzic noted.
The collaboration itself was a benchmark with all the makers all working together from varied locations toward a common goal.
"It was a great start for the Makers HIVE Network," Kapidzic said. They showed that when they work together, they can compete with larger manufacturers - and we hope that they will do exactly that in the future."