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Young Makers in Vietnam work to change the lives of Children with Disabilities

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UNICEF Viet Nam\2016\Truong Viet HungFrom June 3rd to 5th 2016, 7 teams consisting of over 70 young people including designers, engineers, artisans, medical professionals and children with disabilities gathered on the campus of the Vietnam-German University (VGU) in Binh Duong, Vietnam to contribute to a better world. For 72 hours these youth participated in the inaugural T.O.M:Vietnam Makeathon ( to apply their skills to design and prototype open source solutions for children with disabilities. 


What’s TOM got to do with it?

 See more videos of TOM Viet Nam here

Children with disabilities are among the most vulnerable and marginalized in Viet Nam. According to official statistics about 85% of Children with disabilities do not complete primary school and just one in five children with disabilities use special aids and devices.

T.O.M, which stands for Tikkun Olam Makers, is an initiative borne out of the realization that the growing global Maker movement could apply their talents and creativity to design assistive technology for people with disabilities all around the world. A key component of the TOM model is that the Need Knower, or the person that lives and experiences challenges in their daily lives, is a part of the team throughout the design and prototyping process (See UNICEF Innovation Principle #1 – Design with the User).

Another important part of the TOM process is that everything that teams develop during the event is documented and shared via an open source license (See Innovation Principles 6,7 and 9) on the TOM Open Makers Market, ensuring that change makers around the world have the opportunity to build upon the efforts of the young innovators. For the emerging Maker community in Vietnam, TOM represents a tangible opportunity for young people with technical skills to connect and collaborate with Children with Disabilities to create an inclusive environment for the development of accessible solutions.

UNICEF Viet Nam\2016\Truong Viet Hung


Bringing together 7 teams consisting of need knowers, students, and professionals, providing them with appropriate resources and guidance and keeping them nourished and motivated for 72 hours is no small feat, and it doesn’t happen without strong partnerships. The execution of the inaugural event included a multi-stakeholder approach, with significant support from UNICEF Vietnam, the Israeli Trade Mission to Vietnam, The US Consulate General of Ho Chi Minh City, FABLABSaigon, Disability Research and Capacity Development (DRD), and VGU.

It takes more than 72 hours from Design to Reality

Teams were initially gathered to meet each other and start the design process on May 8th in Ho Chi Minh City. There they worked to map out the challenges they faced, started the human-centred design process, and made paper and cardboard prototypes.

FABLABSaigon\2016\Quoc Bao Nguyen
FABLABSaigon\2016\Quoc Bao Nguyen
From May 8th until June 2nd, the teams went through multiple design phases and PiNG’s (in TOM languages this is a Progress, Needs, and Goals meeting) to help the FABLABSaigon team identify exactly what materials and machines they would need. When the day finally came, June 3rd, all of the teams’ necessary machinery would be at hand and they would have a budget of $200USD for materials to create their prototype. 
UNICEF Viet Nam\2016\Truong Viet Hung
UNICEF Viet Nam\2016\Truong Viet Hung

 Adaptations through user feedback

The Need Knowers didn’t arrive on site at VGU until the morning of the 4th, but the teams worked hard through the night to get the initial products ready to test. Upon testing, some of the teams realized that they needed to do quite a bit more work, or even start all over again! Others received feedback that the product worked well, but it didn’t look good and the need knower wouldn’t enjoy using it, a valuable lesson in product design for sure.

UNICEF Viet Nam\2016\Truong Viet Hung
UNICEF Viet Nam\2016\Truong Viet Hung

Achieving Tikkun Olam

UNICEF Viet Nam\2016\Truong Viet Hung
UNICEF Viet Nam\2016\Truong Viet Hung

UNICEF Viet Nam\2016\Truong Viet Hung
UNICEF Viet Nam\2016\Truong Viet Hung
UNICEF Viet Nam\2016\Truong Viet Hung
FABLABSaigon\2016\Quoc Bao Nguyen
UNICEF Viet Nam\2016\Truong Viet Hung

Next steps
At the final celebration on the evening of June 5th, the teams presented their products to the need knowers, peers, government officials, and a panel of distinguished judges. While the progress they made in just 72 hours is amazing, many of the products are not ready for everyday use. The teams have made the commitment to continue to move forward with the products the best they can with support from the TOM:Vietnam organizers, the global TOM developer groups, academia, and local funders.

From the very first meeting of partners, the goal was to spur the creation of a community of Makers doing good, to ensure that Children with Disabilities were included as contributors to the project, and that the end of the event was not the end of the product. While it is too early to say if any of these products will be commercially available, we can be sure that the Maker movement is aware that they really can achieve “Tikkun Olam”, they can repair this world.




1 December 2017

Michel Sidibé
Executive Director of UNAIDS
Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations

This World AIDS Day, we are highlighting the importance of the right to health and the challenges that people living with and affected by HIV face in fulfilling that right.


Community spaces design contest for an exciting hanoi

Ha Noi, October 17/10/2017 - Aiming at improving the living environment and bringing culture and art to the community towards a better urban future, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) successfully developed the project “Promote participatory, community-based and youth-led approach in safe, greening public spaces in Hoan Kiem district toward a pro-poor, inclusive and sustainable urban development” (hereinafter called Public Spaces project) under the Block by Block program with Mojang, the makers of the videogame Minecraft.


Deadline for round 1: From 17/10/2017 to 04/11/2017 Extended to 9 November 2017


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However, international research shows that because of their developmental stages, labelling and treating children as criminals at an early age can have serious negative impacts on their development and successful rehabilitation.


New Year Greetings from the United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i. in Viet Nam


On the occasion of New Year 2017, on behalf of the United Nations family in Viet Nam I wish to reiterate our appreciation and express our warmest wishes to our partners and friends throughout the country. We wish our partners and their families in Viet Nam peace, prosperity, good health and happiness in the coming year.

As we enter the second year of the Sustainable Development Goals era, we look forward to continuing our close cooperation for the sake of Viet Nam’s future development; one which is inclusive, equitable and sustainable, with no one left behind.

Youssouf Abdel-Jelil
United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i. in Viet Nam


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for World AIDS Day, observed on 1 December


Thirty-five years since the emergence of AIDS, the international community can look back with some pride.  But we must also look ahead with resolve and commitment to reach our goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

There has been real progress in tackling the disease. More people than ever are on treatment.  Since 2010, the number of children infected through mother to child transmission has dropped by half. Fewer people die of AIDS related causes each year.  And people living with HIV are living longer lives.

The number of people with access to life-saving medicines has doubled over the past five years, now topping 18 million. With the right investments, the world can get on the fast-track to achieve our target of 30 million people on treatment by 2030.  Access to HIV medicines to prevent mother to child transmission is now available to more than 75 per cent of those in need.