Thank you for Pre-TOM, we’re ready for TOM!

The Pre-TOM event was successfully held on Sunday 8th May, 2016 at DEK Technologies in Ho Chi Minh City. TOM is a growing international non-profit movement that utilizes modern design and digital manufacturing to address acute societal needs. TOM serves as a meeting point of technology and need; these different worlds are brought together to create tangible solutions to challenges. The focus is on inclusive design and creating affordable solutions for problems facing individuals with disabilities.To know more, visit our website tom.fablabsaigon.org

It was a beautiful afternoon when we welcomed lines of official participants and gave them TOM’s badges. We were so happy to see enthusiastic faces of participants, happy smiles of children with disabilities and their family, active volunteers who were busy ensuring everything was ready for the event.

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We were honored to have representatives from UNICEF, U.S Consulate General, The Israeli Economic and Trade Mission to Vietnam, Vietnamese-German University, DRD, and Fablab Saigon presented at the event. The opening speech by Brian Cotter – Innovation Specialist from UNICEF gave us a clear vision of “What is TOM” and “Why we do it in Vietnam”. This part was to help participants fully understand about TOM, and to inspire them by a bigger picture of TOM and the impact they are going to create, as the first members in Asia of a global community.

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Next, the working process and some notes from Fablab Saigon was clarified to ensure all participants keep in their mind how we were all going to work together in the coming weeks.

The most emotional part of the event was when we displayed a video telling the stories of the 7 children with disabilities. The hall felt into silence. Everyone kept their eyes on the screen and listened carefully to the voice of story teller. 7 children, 7 stories, and 7 dreams are waiting for help from nearly 80 people. When it ended, the whole hall was busted by a round of applause. It was energy, enthusiasm, commitment, and a promise from all of our participants about products they are going to make, or a better life without limit they are going to give the children.

Then, it was time for teams to sit down, get to know each other, and start to work on the challenges. Each team gathered around a table with the child whom challenge they would work on. We could see they tried to communicate with the child, asked them questions to know more about the situation, the expectation; and tried to figure out what can be the best solution for the challenge. Following the instructions of facilitators, 7 teams worked together   through the design thinking process (empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test) and came up with some  potential solutions. Finally, they used provided material from a box we called “Design thinking Toolbox” to make the very first “paper” prototype of 2 products that they may build and then presented them to the audience.

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The event ended but all teams were still sitting down together and didn’t want to leave, they even discussed more energetically even we had informed the event was over. They only left after we told them that the building had to close. We were happy to capture a moment where everyone gather as a whole: participants, children with disabilities, guests, organizing team. This was when we felt fulfilled with what we’re doing and were delighted by a thoughts: we are one, and we are going to make a better life for our children with disabilities.

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Pre-TOM was an important milestone in the organization of TOM. Teams and participants now have 4 weeks to continue the design thinking process, the event organizers are now busy preparing for the main TOM event. The main event will be hosted in Vietnamese German University, in Binh Duong city.

Thank you to all who helped with pre-TOM and make sure to follow TOM Vietnam on facebook for the latest news!