Mufid (Arabic for ‘useful’) is a world-first technology and education toolkit empowering young migrants in refugee camps to improve their environment through the circular economy. Developed with refugees, plastic waste is transformed into 3D-printing filament to create shelter construction elements. Beneficiaries gain design/STEM skills for economic empowerment in host communities.

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  • The Global Refugee Crisis impacts youth disproportionately due to a lack of education and employment opportunities. With 85% of jobs in 2030 yet to be invented, the World Economic Forum states that technology, mathematics, architecture and engineering support the future skillsets required. This challenge is compounded by the inadequate living environment of refugee camps which become the new homes of asylum seekers globally. As a protracted crisis, refugees increasingly live in camps long-term. The opportunity exists to disrupt the traditional charity and humanitarian aid model of 'top down' handouts and short-term, emergency-based solutions though design thinking and social impact innovation.

  • Mufid trains refugees in design thinking by applying STEM skillsets to refugee camp contexts. Through action-based learning, we empower refugees with future-oriented soft and technical skills for the evolving employment market. Our approach feeds into existing initiatives in digital fabrication, sustainability and the circular economy by reducing environmental impact in communities. Mufid tackles plastic waste in camps, identified as a major problem by refugees in Greece. Using the open-source desktop tool, discarded plastic is upcycled into 3D-printing filament, allowing useful construction elements to be designed and 3D-printed. Refugees co-design meaningful, physical solutions as 'architects' of their own environment and future.

  • Mufid leverages open source technologies toward the agency and empowerment of vulnerable communities. By making additive manufacturing and 3D-printing more accessible and inclusive to refugees, the project generates social capital and future skills - ultimately envisioning refugee camps as innovation hubs. The UX design focuses on dignity by involving local youths from host communities to collaborate with the refugee population. The commercial model operates by partnering with local architecture firms already engaged with the refugee crisis. Outcomes have included the design and printing of building and structural hardware. The environmental-based curriculum teaches sustainability, waste, material and economic value through upcycling plastic.

  • With over half of the global refugee population being young people (25.9 million), UNICEF is collaborating with Mufid to provide young refugees with access to technological innovation in UNICEF's field work and in-country education programs. Through this open-source, inclusive accessibility and participatory design, the partnership strengthens the child-rights based approach to building capacity and empowerment of young people. The circular economy process is a novel yet practical solution to address the environmental crisis by ensuring that plastic waste within camps have a further life towards a regenerative environment, benefiting young makers and their living conditions of the protracted refugee crisis. This has resulted in the technology, and movement of 'maker spaces' and 'fab labs', in becoming more accessible and inclusive to vulnerable and marginalised youth, who otherwise would not have engagement with such tools and educational opportunities in STEM. Furthermore, it assists in the integration and employment opportunities through social innovation, economic empowerment and entrepreneurship. Mufid was designed with funding from the Qatar Foundation and received awards from the World Innovation Summit for Education in Athens and New York. The social outcomes were showcased to the 2018 UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals.