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Careables Online Maker Gathering: at the time of a pandemic

A Global Gathering of Healthcare Activists and Makers
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The Story of Careables Maker Gathering

Weeks after Covid-19 has started to take its toll on Europe, Latin America and many other countries around the world, Careables team and partners found themselves in the middle of a virtual flood of information related to overcoming this crisis.
Careables being an open and inclusive approach to healthcare for citizens, meant that our work and the values we stand for were never more needed or relevant to the globe. Our partners and initiatives from around the world were using our platform on Welder App to document and explain how to openly develop hardware to find solutions and to respond globally as humanity, to a safer and healthier world. From 3D printed face masks to Covid-19 decontamination toolkits to door openers, to online hackathons and media awareness campaigns on fake information, it was a humbling scene to observe. As Sandra Mamitzsch, a Careables Lead has put it in one of the meetings.

‘It feels like we have been training for two years for this moment’
Sandra Mamitzsch

Why an Online Maker Gathering?

Two months forward Careables understood that the current pandemic might be doing more than we expected. It was changing mindsets and culture towards connecting virtually. More people were using all kinds of video conferencing tools to connect, attend webinars, and host events in what felt like a global virtual response. For Careables it meant shifting our mindset to transfer our vibrant physical meetings to an equally exciting and informative online gathering.

‘I learned that careables is much more than what I had originally envisioned’
Barbara Kieslinger
Project Manager Coordinator at Careables

We were inspired by our partners in Olinda who hosted a series of Careables Latin American talks on health and technology during Covid-19 and decided this was an opportunity to connect makers from all around the globe in what could be a more cost-efficient and environment friendly format for knowledge exchange.

Careables Maker Gathering

On the 25th of June at 13:00 CEST, the Maker Gathering officially started on Bloom. The first session was dedicated to Mapping the Health Making Community & Current Global Activities. Ravin Razigar from Science Camp in Iraq talked about the increasing numbers of infected people in Iraq.  The numbers were paradoxical to the government’s decision to go back to ‘normal’  for obvious economic reasons.
Amidst this new situation, it was never more clear how important it is to capitalize on local production and invest in Makerspaces in Iraq, in the face of an economy that is increasingly dependent on exporting goods. The maker movement in Iraq views design and production not only in terms of functionality but also considers aspects like scalability and sustainability.

Made with Padlet


Saadya Windauer who is a resident in Berlin demonstrated the work and coming together of different actors that would have in normal circumstances been hard to bring together. Three makerspaces in Brandenburg, a university and industrial companies came together to collect material and networked to produce face shields, with an aim to overcome the lack of supply of face shields and masks to medical professionals. Magu, Founder of Sao Paulo Lab, started to create cotton face masks with her family and network.

Kumasi Hive, Ghana, has shifted its platform to work with students online, through planning training sessions that equip students with the needed knowledge to find local solutions to the pandemic. In Singapore, volunteer engineers have been fixing, refurbishing, reformatting, and sanitizing old laptops and sending them to households in need to help students learn from home during times of pandemic.

‘Collaboration is the way forward with #digital and #decentralization — we’ve always known this as a “nice to have” but now it’s vital to moving forward. no collaborative project is too small!’
Saad Chinoy 

The Maker Gathering continued to tackle the Effect of Covid-19 Maker Response on the Environment.  How sustainable is the response to pandemics in the environment? How do we handle plastic production during the pandemic? Our inspiring network attempts to answer these complex questions by presenting findings in their areas of research. Redesign our methodology thinking about recycling, breaking down the object produced into separate materials.  Nawres Arif talked about manufacturing plastic to make it recyclable on the molecule level and use the energy produced from chemical elements existing in plastic to create other products. On this point Nidhi Mittal added how single-use plastic waste should not be designed to last forever, should be designed in a way that allows it to break down and disappear when disposed of.

Nidhi´s project experiments with sustainable materials that go back to earth to support a circular economy.  She has been recently working on developing Biodegradable plastic by using wasted material and combining it with a natural binder to create Bioplastic. i.e. seafood waste.  Water resistance,  durability and its multi-purpose use are some of the properties that are being considered in researching Bioplastic. For the full story click here.

DJ ZEBB Multimedia artist based in Bahia, Brazil. Makes music deeply influenced by Dub and Afrobeat. Ouroburos Performance – ouroboros means the cyclical movement of time and life. in this performance DJ ZEBB mixes traditional chants of Oro Nao and Suruí, Amazon indigenous communities and 8-bit computer sounds. (Music played during the break)

On the topic of  Training the Healthcare Makers of the Future, Isabelle Dechamps from Hackademy added that her team has become more connected than ever during the pandemic. They did team meetings and digitally split out in virtual rooms using Big Blu Bottom , where they discusses developing solutions for ‘stay at homes’, developing tool kits and prototyping. Isabelle is currently experimenting with digital formats for knowledge sharing with the aim to go from local to global. She also finds it a personal aim to work on the co-creation for groups with disabilities.

Marta from OpenDot engaged in the discussion on the needs of people with disabilities during the pandemic and shared Co-design for Healthcare Toolkit. A facemask with a transparent window was one of the examples used for inclusive design.  Designing for blind people and other less empowered groups remains one of the open questions. As for our partners in Olinda, reaching out to women that can design and sew new face shields and masks through digital formats has proven to be their next challenge.

The day-long sessions were concluded by raising the question of How to find funding for our projects?  To answer to this question  a critique of the current global economic system as a whole, could not be avoided. Donations from individuals was seen as a potential Funding Model, considering the rise in numbers of people donating as they sit at home.  This model could be seen in the context of industry 4.0 and in the face of Capitalism.

What is next?

Our one day Maker Gathering was a great insight into Global Response in times of Covid-19. It left us grateful and humbled by the generosity of our community sharing their times, stories and knowledge. However, we feel it is just a start! We have had many questions raised during our session that could not possibly be answered in a day-long event.  It was and remains an inspiration for future virtual gatherings.

Check our Careables Website for more detailed stories from our speakers on the above topics.

Stay tuned for possible gathering in the near future.

Featured Image: Face mask made for people with hearing disabilities, by La Da Favelinha in Brazil.


Fadia Elgharib


La Da Favelinha

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