Build an MIT Lab in the refugee camp!
Quick summary: Help us build an MIT Lab in the Al Azraq refugee camp in Jordan to support more than 70,000 displaced Syrians though MIT-led high quality education and creative activities. We have recently received a land allocation in the camp to set up a Center for the Arts, Education, and Civic Innovation. This center will function as a satellite location of our MIT Future Heritage Lab (FHL) – it will be a hybrid of a cultural center, a community space and an open university with a living room, a classroom, a maker space and a museum studio. Everything in this space will be co-designed with and by refugees. As our salaries and personal expenses are funded through MIT, your donation will be used for these three causes: 1. Construction of the facility, 2. Materials for educational projects and interior, or 3. Salaries for refugees who will be employed in the center.
100% of your tax-deductible donation will benefit directly the displaced Syrians!
There are two main ways you can help:
1) Share our MIT Crowdfund campaign through Facebook, Twitter, email, word-of-mouth, etc.
2) Donate to our campaign. Any amount can help!
About the Al Azraq Camp
The Al Azraq refugee camp in Jordan was established in 2014 to become the region’s largest camp. It was designed to house up to 150,000 people. In the summer of 2017, the camp was housing 35,000 Syrian refugees and 40,000 new residents are expected to move in by the end of the year.
Need: Today, more than 65 million people worldwide have been forcefully displaced. Millions live in camps, whose design often neglects fundamental emotional, cultural, and educational needs. Failing to address these needs will deeply affect the future of generations living in fragile environments.
Opportunity: We believe that we can learn from the resilience and creativity of displaced communities. We learn from artists, artisans, and inventors who transform grenade shells into flower vases, who convert solar lights into cell-phone chargers, and who redesign their shelters according to their cultural sensibilities and needs. These communities can help us rethink humanitarian assistance and teach as how to approach refugee camps not just as makeshift shelters, but as civic spaces where crucial social healing, education, creativity and civic innovation takes place.
The MIT Future Heritage Lab has been operating in the Al Azraq camp since the beginning of 2016, in partnership with humanitarian aid organizations, Jordanian educational institutions, and design organizations. We develop and implement innovative models, techniques, and concepts towards quality education in art, culture, and technology. We engage in participatory action research through extensive fieldwork and collaborative community workshops to address the needs of refugees and the host community.
Who we Are
Future Heritage Lab is an artistic research and civic action lab in the Architecture Department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology directed by Associate Professor Azra Aksamija. We are a team of inspired, hardworking and motivated artists, architects and engineers. Our lab includes faculty members, researchers, undergraduate and graduate students from MIT and the German-Jordanian University. We work at the intersection of Art, Culture, and Technology to support refugees and communities in crisis with programs in art, education, and cultural preservation. Website: www.futureheritagelab.com
You might know as from our previous project the Memory Matrix: a living monument aiming to raise awareness about the destruction of cultural heritage in the Middle East and the ethics of preservation at the time of war.
FHL Center for Art, Education and Civic Innovation
We are in the process of building our FHL site facility in the Al Azraq camp to ensure the quality of our work throughout the year and expand our educational and creative operations. This site Lab will be part of CARE facilities in the Al Azraq camp village 3. The programming will focus on Art, Education, and Civic Innovation, supported by a maker space, a kitchen, a showroom, and classrooms for men and women.
On the scale of the community, FHL-Al Azraq will deploy the transformative power of art, culture, and technology to increase interest in education, foster civic empowerment, and equip new generations with hope and tools for cultural and social reconstruction upon return. On-site workshops and online classes aim at the development, scaling and dissemination of the existing inventions and design solutions created in the camp. The resulting upscaled inventions will be displayed and integrated into the Lab’s showroom to promote their use to improve the quality of everyday life.
On a larger scale, the work of the lab can inform policy makers and humanitarian aid organizations about specific needs of refugees and possible solutions through proposals designed by them. If proven successful, this pilot Lab would be replicated in other camps and locations.
Why Support Us:
FHL programs and activities focus on addressing the neglected emotional, cultural and aesthetic needs of refugees. We consider that addressing these needs is necessary for a life with dignity.
Our Ongoing Work in the Camp:
The past year in collaboration with the humanitarian organization CARE at the Al Azraq refugee camp we have provided quality education services and creative workshops for 70 displaced Syrians of all ages jointly with Jordanian and MIT students.
The students improved their skills in art, design and cultural contexts and gained confidence. An example of our work is the Lightweaver, a kinetic lighting device and educational tool that we co-created with artists, engineers, and innovators from the Al Azraq refugee camp this summer. Learn more about our creative workshops here.
CODE OF ETHICS:
When working in the humanitarian context, an ethical conduct of practice is essential. For this reason, we launched the Code of Ethics project to feature ethical considerations for interventions in the humanitarian context. The entries include contributions from educational institutions (faculty, researchers, students), preservation experts (historians, museum curators), NGO’s engaged in humanitarian relief, as well as refugees. See more and contribute: https://www.codeofethics.online
This fall, we organized an exhibition in Amman showcasing the ingenuity and resiliency of displaced Syrians through their inventions in the camp. The exhibition Design for a Nomadic World was part of the Amman Design Week. Syrian refugees had the opportunity to present their work to a large audience. Press: Jordan Times
We are currently working on a book of inventions, painting, and poetry from the Al Azraq camp, which will be co-written by MIT students and the Al Azraq camp journal team. Here are some images from this book.
We Need Your Support!
Every dollar counts! We appreciate your support at any level. All of the funding goes directly towards the construction of the facility in the camp, purchase of necessary equipment, and salaries for refugees. We also appreciate any in-kind donations (please contact Melina Philippou firstname.lastname@example.org).
Donations are tax-deductible and contribution matching! MIT is a 501(c)(3) institution, and your gift is tax-deductible within the limitations of U.S. federal income tax laws. Many companies also offer employees a matching gift benefit that doubles the contribution to MIT. Click here to find out if your employer has a matching gift program.
Please forward the campaign to friends and family invested in supporting communities in crisis. Your help is valuable.
Your Future Heritage Lab team