It is time to celebrate achievements of amazing Atlas Corps Alumni who are making inspiring impacts against COVID-19. Today we want to talk with our Alum Nino (Class 26, Tunisia), about his efforts against COVID-19 in his home country, Tunisia, and worldwide.

A few months ago we already talked with Nino about EL SPACE Social Innovation Hub in Tunis which he co-founded in 2015 and created a partnership with Atlas Corps Host Organization Open Gov Hub to launch Open Gov Hub Tunisia. You can read about it here. During the COVID-19 outbreak, Nino gathers together makers with 3D printers at EL SPACE to provide needed face shields for medical staff who are on the front line against the coronavirus.

Read below about how Nino is contributing to the fight, and how we can all work together and rise above the challenges of today. Thank you so much for everything that you do! We wish you the best with this impactful work!

Name: Nino Adnen Ben Haj Yahia


Home Country: Tunisia

Current Organization: EL SPACE Social Innovation HUB

Role at current organization: Co-founder and Executive Director


Please share with us how you are working to fight against COVID-19?

At EL SPACE we have Fab Labs, Youth Empowerment, Entrepreneurship, Open Democracy, and Technology programs. With the COVID-19 outbreak, EL SPACE has been called together with locals and makers with 3D printers to provide needed face shields for hospitals and medical staff. Tunisian hospitals did not have face shields in the past, which has become a great problem in the pandemic. 

We in the tech field do not have the capabilities to treat those who are sick, so we decided to support the medical staff and help them stay healthy to help those who are not. The 3D printed face shield design was approved by the ministry of health so that we can make sure we are providing something they can use in the hospitals. The shield is made from recycled vegetable plastic. Additionally, while the mask is only sanitary for about 4 hours, it can be disinfected for longer use.

The shield is designed by one of EL SPACE’s community members and being printed by people and makers all across Tunisia. We have lots of engagement with anyone with a 3D printer, and many are working day and night to print these and deliver them to the nearest hospital. Right now we have more than 40 3D printers all working all across Tunisia, and more and more people are engaging every day.

What is unique about our ability to help is that it is not like the traditional response to these health issues where everything is centrally located within governments. If we were to send the design to the government and only have them make the shields it would take much longer to print and send these out to hospitals. That is why we all work together with the Ministry of Health and local hospitals, so our decentralized system allows everyone to play their part in this pandemic. After all the goal is to make as many face shields as possible and distribute them to hospitals as soon as possible.

Do you have anything you would like to say to everybody about how we can all do our part in this pandemic?

Local people can help their local hospitals, especially when the hospital is in a smaller community. As of now, we made and delivered more than 1000 shields and we are still producing more while coordinating with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Industries. We gave them the design so that we can produce the shields in larger quantities to meet the demand for Tunisian hospitals.

This initiative is called Makers Against Corona, and we are taking donations of 3D printer material and 3D printers that are not in use at this time. Here in the ELFABSPACE lab, we are using all of our materials for this initiative. Together we can all do our part to support each other in these difficult times.

Here are some helpful resources and ways we all can contribute: 

  • Check on the nearest local hospital to your location if they have enough supplies.
  • Face shields are a huge need now if you have a 3D printer please print this file (a face shield design – approved by medical units) and send it to your local hospital.
  • If you are medical staff, here is a list of volunteers you can get in touch with.
Photo by Institut Pasteur de Tunis

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