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This Guy Quit His Job To Build Tables, Rockets, Bikes And Anything That Seemed Awesome

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By Vaibhav Chhabra:

My initiative ‘Maker’s Asylum’ began when the ceiling of my old office in Mumbai, fell down. All our furniture and equipment was destroyed. However, instead of buying new furniture, I posted a note on Facebook asking people to join me in building some tables. That Sunday, six people showed up and we made our first table (I love building tables, by the way). Word got around and making tables became a weekly thing.

Every weekend, we’d see some new faces along with the ones we knew. Some would come to work on their own projects – from building water bottle bazookas to LED cubes, and some would come just to collaborate. In a couple of months, we had so much equipment and projects that we hardly had any place to move around! That’s when we went in search of a new home for this community of makers and set up shop in a 250 square foot garage in Bandra. Called ‘Maker’s Asylum’, the space was a playground for like and unlike-minded people to meet, explore and have access to all sorts of tools to test their ideas and ‘tinker’, without the fear of failure.

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At the ‘Maker’s Asylum’ where awesome ideas come to life.

During this phase, I quit my job as a lead project engineer with a start-up out of MIT Media Labs. I got involved with ‘Maker’s Asylum’ full-time, and pretty soon we were teaching people how to prototype concepts better. We started hosting tool trainings on 3D printers, laser cutter and power tools. Every time we broke the 3D printer, we learnt how to make it better by simply fixing it!

Making The Space

Soon Maker’s Asylum was a super buzzing space; the projects that came out of collaborations became a top priority, and I knew for a fact that we needed a bigger space. So, we ran a crowdfunding campaign, the response to which was amazing! People across the world supported us with funds, manpower and plenty of enthusiasm. We found a beautiful space in Andheri. And once again, through Facebook, over 50 people came to help us set up, in the first month! From building the tables, painting walls and doing the electricals, everything in the space was done by the members and the community. And by now, ‘Maker’s Asylum’ was a brand.

That’s the thing about social media. It allows people to give a movement like ours brand status, by simply working as a great documentation tool to showcase what happens at the space. Thus people associate ‘making things’, with us, ‘Maker’s Asylum’.

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Walk-ins, meet-ups, mash-ups and guest lectures. This is where it goes down. Image Credit: Maker’s Asylum

 

People have followed us even though we changed locations (thrice including a stint at the Indian School of Design And Innovation). Each walk-in, meet-up (enthusiasts meeting around a common passion), mash-up (people with different interests being in the same room) ends up in something interesting. Designers, engineers, architects, musicians, doctors, artists, students – a group of misfits – all come together.

Our Projects

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From retinal imaging device testing (top left) and setting up the new 3D printer (top right) to working on an auto project (bottom left) and a laser cutting lab (bottom right), we’ve got it covered. Image Credit: Maker’s Asylum

 

You should come visit. The space has everything a tinkerer would want – a laser lab, wood lab, electronics lab, bio hacking lab and a 3D printing lab. Some of our makers run innovative businesses. ‘The Black Canvas‘ does a wonderful range of leather products made on the laser cutting machine. ‘Quidich‘ has designed drones for aerial photography through our co-working space. Our in-house makers have designed 3D products as per client specifications.

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All the tools you can think of. Image Credit: Maker’s Asylum

 

Other interesting things have also happened across the Asylum in Mumbai and Delhi – a Laser Harp, with no strings but which works with lasers to make music; a retinal imaging device; home automation devices; the SatNOGS project; 3D printed Prosthetic arms; open source micro-controllers; a Wave Parametric architecture installation made for BNP Parabas and Virtual Reality camera rigs!

The Catalyst

We recently started to monetise the space, and the response has been great; we have been getting a lot of requests for smaller companies wanting to be a part of the community and work out of the space. Our weekday tool training workshops and weekend events across several topics, bring in a mix of hobbyists, entrepreneurs and experts. We have hosted CAD modelling sessions, screen printing, spray painting, art, rocket-building, bike-building, a wood work-laptop table workshop and tons more.
We also have a very active community discussion forum on which the threads are created by members themselves. And this is really the maker movement. It is the coming together of people and ideas. The ‘Maker’s Asylum’ is only the catalyst.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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