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Innovation as a social investment:

REHAU supports aid project in Iraq with technical competence


Crisis areas demand particular innovative skills to meet everyday needs like a warm home in difficult conditions. As a globally active family company, polymer specialist REHAU is participating in the project “Maggie goes to Yezidi” by sharing the company’s technical expertise at an education centre for refugee children from Yezidi, where they are treated for the trauma inflicted on them by war, abuse and captivity.

A temporary but safe home for refugees around the world: this is the reason why the Belgian team of architects and engineers DMOA started project “Maggie”. In order to support access to healthcare and education even in inaccessible conflict regions, the architects developed the “Maggie Shelter”, a special kind of refuge. The shelter’s design is reminiscent of a tent, but it offers a solid structure. Thanks to a number of characteristics like wind and rain resistance, the constructions are robust enough to defy the elements for at least 15 years. Their applications are many: the “Maggie Shelter” can be used as a hospital ward, school, education centre, air-conditioned storage room or coordination centre. This is due in no small part to modular technical equipment. In coordination with the architects and engineers of DMOA, REHAU took on the challenge of air-conditioning these shelters in the refugee camp Sharya in northern Iraq. At Sharya, DMOA is running the project “Maggie goes to Yezidi” together with the local non-governmental organisation Panaga to create an infrastructure for traumatised children. Several rooms adapted to local conditions have been set up in the “Maggie Shelter” tents for regular teaching and therapy programmes. “This project unites social commitment and innovative prowess in a unique way,” Joost Saelens, Country Manager BeLux at REHAU points out.

Some days in the summer, temperatures in the Sharya refugee camp reach unbearable levels, while winters are very cold and wet. “The Yezidis live in inhumane conditions. Winters are hard. Their tents leak and are full of mud,” trauma psychologist Dr Michelle Sanders describes the situation at the camp. To battle the cold, people were using the kerosene stoves that are generally used for heating and cooking in the region. However, these combustion stoves released carbon monoxide, which is a health hazard. People living with kerosene stoves often suffer from lung problems and are constantly at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. What’s more, the open stoves could set fire to the tents. Three “Maggie Shelters” were therefore equipped with modern underfloor heating systems, which REHAU produced and donated to the project. Due to the system's low structural height and low weight, it was easily and quickly integrated into the tent construction and installed on a total of about 200 square meters. A central heat pump is used for cooling and heating. “With our underfloor heating system, we have created the right functionality for the challenging climatic conditions, and above all we can prevent the threat the old kerosene stoves posed to the health and safety of the children,” says Joost Saelens.

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