In November of 2017 I took a ‘Venture’ in Medellin. I lived with like-minded professionals from diverse backgrounds, immersed myself in Colombian culture, and worked with a wonderful organization called Enable Medellin. Within minutes of hearing about Enable from its founder, Adam Fielding, I was hooked.
Enable Medellin works with a team of designers, engineers, and doctors to create customized, 3D printed prosthetics for Colombian children often affected by the violence of the Colombian conflict. I was surprised to learn that Colombia is second in the world after Afghanistan in landmine casualties.
Traditionally, prosthetics are incredibly expensive, uncomfortable, and, for a growing child, often need to be replaced every six months. Through the 3-D printing of the prosthetics, we can create them for a fraction of the cost, customize them, and replace only certain parts of the prosthetic as the child grows. Enable Medellin develops all prosthetics free of charge, and is completely supported by donations.
One of my favorite parts of the prosthetic creation process is getting to know the child and customizing the prosthetic based on the child’s needs and interests. During my time working with Enable, we had a little girl who was in love with Princess Elsa, so we created a Frozen-inspired arm for her. On the final day of the prosthetic process, she arrived in our studio dressed head to toe as the Princess of Arendelle herself! As we fitted her arm for the first time, the team rocked out to the soundtrack to Frozen. She was so proud!
As a professionally trained designer, one aspect I find most exciting is that each client presents us with a unique set of design challenges. We worked with one gentleman who had lost both of his forearms. Because he had lived most of his life without these limbs, he was able to do most daily tasks without them. However, he needed to rely on others to help him lock and unlock the door to his house. We were able to customize a prosthetic so that he could easily and independently complete this task on his own.
During my last week in the Venture with Impact program a ‘game changer’ took place with Enable Medellin! Enable was in the beginning stages of working with their team of engineers and designers to develop a new robotic arm. The model contains heat sensors that allow amputees with nerve damage to steer clear of potentially dangerous situations. Additionally, we are also very excited to be in the initial stages of designing a prototype for a prosthetic leg.
In addition to the design consulting work that I underwent with Enable, another Venturer in my program, Rina Obi, a digital marketing extraordinaire, also worked on the Enable team. Rina developed a marketing strategy that will support Enable as it continues to grow in 2018.
Venture with Impact looks forward to continuing their partnership with Enable in the upcoming year by connecting engineers, digital marketing strategists, grant writers and other relevant professionals with this program.
Psyched about this project? Want to get involved? Here are a few things YOU can do!
1. Check out Enable Medellin’s video and consider sponsoring a child on their behalf.
3. Contact Venture with Impact to learn more about VWI programs in Medellin this 2018.