French Volunteer Day

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Last Saturday, Fablab Saigon was present at the very inspiring French Volunteer Day, organized by France Volontaires. One week away from the international summit on climate change known as COP21, the event’s topic was of course focused on sustainability and environment.


As the French consul put it in his introduction speech, we are all hoping that the leaders of the planet will find an agreement on greenhouse gas emissions. However, it is also everyone’s duty to contribute: we must “think global, act local”. And the next hours just proved how much this watchword was shared by the NGOs and other organizations there. France volontaires typically allocates young volunteers from France and abroad with the same core values to deal with the problems where there are.


Another crucial point of this day was to celebrate the diversity of ways to tackle the same challenges. Volunteerism is one of them, and it is already made of a wide range of opportunities, with various time frames and fields. From CARE, WWF Vietnam, PADDI, Marguerite Duras College and Officience, the morning’s speakers witnessed peculiarly well this diversity: research, activism, public service, education and private companies are all different part of the same role.


In the afternoon, professionals and nonprofessionals were able to make a tour of the present NGOs like LIN center, SNV, Change, Mekong Plus, LP4Y etc.  FabLab Saigon has been quite popular towards the public and members of other organizations. On display at our booth was the ever popular 3D pen to introduce about 3D printing, the google cardboard to introduce about laser cutting and the Sense HCMC project: a device that records regularly temperature, humidity, noise and air quality data and sends it to the internet cloud. Our objective with this project is to deploy a network of sensors throughout the city and build up an API to make this data accessible to all. Having data is the first step to see the problem.   


The evening’s cocktail at the French consulate illustrated a last keypoint of the day: the imperative for everyone to get connected, share knowledge and experience. In his Ted Talk, Steven Johnson reminds us how – just like what is happening in our brain – “an idea is a network”. This means connecting not only with the ecosystem in HCMC, but also throughout Vietnam. With Hanoi based WWF-Vietnam or with the Fablabs Vietnam initiative to connect Fablabs of Danang, Hanoi, Hue and Saigon.