Posted on Jan 07, 2019

From January 7th presentation: "Building bridges between technology and social entrepreneurship".

The talk was held by Ms. Midia Shikh Hassan

Topics discussed:

Syria and Refugees. The ongoing 7 years of civil war in Syria has been absolutely terrible. Thousands of children have been poorly fed, deprived of education and health care. For example, there are over 1 million refugees in Lebanon alone, and of these, 5% have damaged or lost a limb. A limb replacement can cost from between $2,000 and $20,000, and the injury stigmatizes the patient.

Limb replacement alternatives: the 3D printed prosthesis. Ms. Hassan’s company had pioneered the creation of 3D printed limb prostheses, costing about $20 each. This simple prosthetic hand allows the possessor to pick things up, grasp and hold a pen, and attend to washing themselves- much much better than having no hand at all. The artificial hand is coloured to match the patient’s skin colour. Delivering the hand to the refugee patient living in Syria is a separate matter, requiring mastery of complex communication within the fragmented organisations in Syria.

Canada has adopted 25,000 Syrian refugees. Ms. Hassan is involved in Ottawa in helping these new Canadians integrate into Canada. Children are introduced to technology and soon acquire these skills. Many Syrian adults already have skills in tailoring and catering and caring for people, and can obtain employment here.

Miss Hassan’s approach to life includes the following adages: Building starts one step at a time; there is never a perfect time or a perfect location; mistakes are the best way to learn.

Her own skills include entrepreneurial skills (e.g. making the hand) and negotiating skills (to get the hand to the patient). She encouraged us to get out of our comfort zones, to ask “how can I help you” and to use what resources and skills we have.

It was an inspirational talk from a very talented young person which kept us all wide awake.

About the speaker.

Ms. Hassan had been born in Syria but had grown up for the first 17 years of her life in the UAE, before immigrating to Canada. A graduate of the University of Ottawa with degrees in Biochemistry and in Engineering, in 2016 she was awarded a Queen Elizabeth 2nd Young Leaders Award to study on a postgraduate course at Cambridge University, UK. She is now manager of her own Ottawa Company “Technology for Social Good She said of herself, “I am lucky to be alive” and that her circumstances had given her a natural affinity for refugees.

She is currently the manager of a new technology accelerator program called MakerLaunch.