As a child in Afghanistan Massoud Hassani would make paper toys to be blown in the wind. Sometimes they would end up in a minefield, where he could not retrieve them. 20 years later he’s used biomimicry to design this ingenius dandelion-shaped mine sweeper with an inbuilt GPS navigator, recently nominated for Design of the Year 2012.
Mine Kafon is a wind-blown, wooden, bamboo-spiked ball, based on homemade childhood toys, and designed to decommission land mines by blowing them up. The ball uses GPS to map its path along the way, creating a record of safe pathways.
“There are 30 million land mines in Afghanistan and 26 million people,” Massoud says. Thousands of square miles in countries all over the world are afflicted with land mines, rendering land useless and disrupting those who rely on it for their livelihoods. As you will read below, Massoud Hassani took a childhood toy, and an issue with personal significance, and created an incredible lifesaving tool.
"I was born in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1983. Before the age of 14 I lived in several locations in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan. Then I immigrated in the Netherlands in 1998. The first chapter of my life began in Qasaba, Kabul where we moved when I was 5. My life of survival began at there together with my brother. Back then there were several wars going on.
Me and my brother Mahmud played every day on the fields surrounded by the highest mountains in our neighborhood. At young age we learned to make our own toys. One of my favorite toys was a small rolling object. It was powered by the wind. We used to race against the other kids on the fields in our neighborhood. There was always a strong wind waving towards the mountains. While we were racing against each other, our small miniatures rolled way too fast and too far. Mostly they landed in areas where we were not allowed to step foot. Those areas were properties of great dangers and landmines. I still remember those friends that we have lost and saw them getting injured.
20 years later I went back to my childhood and made those toys all over again for my graduation project for the Design Academy Eindhoven, the Netherlands. I remade one of those objects, 20 times bigger, heavier and stronger. It is powered by the wind and it’s meant for the same areas where were full of land mines." Massoud Hassani