One year ago today (November 11, 2013), Daniel, a 16-year old boy of Sudan's Nuba Mountains, used a 3D-printed left arm to feed himself. It was the first time in two years he'd been able to effect the task, having had both arms blasted from his body when a bomb exploded as he was tending his family's livestock.
At that tender age of 14, Daniel told TIME magazine's Alex Ross Perry that, not wanting to be a burden on his family, he didn’t consider his life worth living.
After reading the article, Mick Ebeling, the CEO and founder of Not Impossible, who'd teamed up with producer/co-founder Elliot Kotek, brought in the advice of Yoda-Mr. Miyagi-mentor/Robohand-inventor Richard Van As and experimented with a gaggle of makers, and reached out to the doctor in the Nuba Mountains who'd performed the double amputation on that young boy. "Project Daniel" was born.
A month later, Ebeling plus director of photography Adrian Belic, war photographer Timoteo Freccia and a "slow-talking Englishman" in fixer Peter Mozynski renewed Daniel’s hope by arriving in Yida Refugee Camp in South Sudan, and then traveling with Daniel to Dr. Tom Catena's hospital in the Nuba Mountains where they set up the world's first 3D-printing prosthetics lab and training facility.
Mick told The Los Angeles Times (in a front-page story that again raised the profile of Project Daniel), that seeing Daniel feed himself was “on par with watching my kids being born.”
Although this could have been the end of the fairytale for Project Daniel, it was only just the beginning. The local Nubians were trained to work with the 3D printers and other equipment and managed to manufacture a few arms for others in quick succession. Despite having to put prosthesis production to the side when South Sudan's civil war flared, and again following the bombing of the hospital grounds itself, the team has recently printed more limbs for people in the area (it's estimated that the long-raging war has created some 50,000 amputees).
Inspiring a Movement
Launched from the Intel booth at CES back in January 2014, and sponsored also by Precipart precision engineering, Project Daniel has reached an enormous range of people and inspired them to help others in similar situations as Daniel.
Last September, a group of volunteers known as e-NABLE told us about a man who was inspired by Project Daniel to help a create a 3-D printed hand for a young Brazilian boy seen in the YouTube video below.
And in May, we received an email from War Legacies Project, an organization in Vietnam that works with young amputees like Hoai Thuong, a 6-year-old girl with no arms and non-functioning legs. After seeing our Project Daniel video, they too realized more was possible.
“When I first learned about 3-D printing I thought that it would solve the issue of fitting children with prosthetic arms/hands,” Susan Hammond, the executive director of War Legacies Project wrote. “I came across your Project Daniel story and see you are well ahead of the game. Amazing, congratulations.”
The Story Continues
Last June, delegates from 90 countries met at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity to celebrate the best in brand communication and creativity. Project Daniel was honored with five Cannes Lions, including the Titanium Lion Award honoring breakthrough ideas which are provocative and point to a new direction in the industry. It’s for work that “causes the industry to stop in its tracks and reconsider the way forward”. The idea is everything.
Not Impossible doesn’t plan rest on its laurels. And the importance of the awards, in addition to honoring all the people involved in the project (including Daniel and his friend, Dr. Tom Catena, Robohand's Richard Van As, as well as the Not Impossible crew), is to also serve to remind businesses that doing good is good branding. Not Impossible intends to utilize those awards to build support for multi-tooled "Global Labs" that will serve to aid and educate many more people who currently lack the access they deserve to the solutions that are currently being made available by makers and hackers world-wide.
In early 2015, a feature-length documentary about Project Daniel is scheduled for release, all of which we hope will continue to inspire others to make a difference.
Help One. Help Many.
Read More Stories About Project Daniel
- Project Daniel: 3-D Printing Prosthetic Arms for Children in Sudan
- Vietnamese Girl Watches Project Daniel & Sees Possibility
- Project Daniel Inspires Man to Help Young Boy in Brazil
- Letter of the Week: Injured UK Bat-fan Inspired by Project Daniel
- Intel "Look Inside": Mick Ebeling & Project Daniel
- With Ingenuity and a 3-D Printer, Group Changes Lives (The Los Angeles Times)