FabLab Israel launched a new program this year, staffed by FabLab volunteers using donated materials, specifically designed for holocaust survivors. Never having had the opportunity to enjoy their childhoods, these senior citizens were introduced to, and guided through, computer design software and digital fabrication processes such as laser cutting and 3D printing. Because this kind of activity was so foreign to these seniors, both the learning curve and the sense of fulfillment and engagement were enormous. A brainchild of FabLab Israel, this program partnered the seniors (group of twenty from the Tel Aviv area, aged 80 to 96) with youth of all ages, who thoroughly enjoyed teaching their elders, forming new bonds and friendships.
The benefits of such a program for seniors are boundless -- the joy of learning a new skill and understanding something once so foreign to them, while interacting with children and teenagers. Bringing the elders from their homes and living facilities to an active community center to be full participants in the act of creation not only helps ward off loneliness, alienation, and depression, but also gives them renewed motivation and a sense of inclusion, opening their minds to new technologies and possibilities, helping them look forward, not only back.
Holocaust survivors should have the opportunity to enjoy their last years. FabLab Israel has found a rewarding way to bridge the gap between the older and younger generations by using its tools and programs to foster cooperation, mentor programs (with the young mentoring the old!), using art and technology to bring people together. Viewing the Lost Childhood activity as a vital mission to give back to those who gave so much, FabLab sees the creative and learning process as a means of building hope, anticipation, and fulfillment for people nearing the end of their lives.
We hope that we can raise funds to continue this activity and extend its outreach before it is too late.