Kalimat Foundation – the UAE-based global non-profit organisation founded by Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, President of the International Publishers Association (IPA) to uphold children’s rights to access books particularly in the Middle East, has recently concluded a successful book donation drive of 1500 books across four schools in the Kingdom of Morocco, in collaboration with the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Foundation mobilised both its initiatives – Pledge a Library, which reaches out to refugee and immigrant children in need with portable curated libraries of 100 Arabic language books, and ‘ARA’ (I see) designed by the nonprofit to boost reading accessibility for visually-disabled children by providing accessible books in Braille, large print, and audio formats.
The libraries in two public schools, the deep-rooted 100-year-old Ahmad AlSharqawi and Imam Malik, have received Pledge a Library’s portable collection of 100 quality Arabic language titles for children and young adults.
The Association Marocaine pour l’insertion has benefited from an ARA donation of 1,000 books in accessible formats, while Fondation Orient-Occident, a Moroccan non-profit organisation that serves as a bridge between migrants, refugees, the disadvantaged youth and employment opportunities through professional training, received 2 portable libraries stocked up with physical books as well as 100 titles in accessible formats.
The two schools and the foundation were strategically selected by the Foundation owing to the fact that they support the education and learning of over 2,200 refugee, blind and visually impaired children.
Amna Al Mazmi, Director of Kalimat Foundation, said: “We are proud to have collaborated with these Moroccan educational institutions who are doing the extremely important work of advancing the literacy of the most vulnerable sections of society, making sure these children are not left behind just due to their unfortunate circumstances. Since we came into being, Kalimat Foundation’s sole mission has been to deliver books as well as educational and reading materials to as many Arab refugee children as possible in our region and around the world. This donation drive is part of our new strategy to cover larger parts of the African continent, and we are absolutely delighted to have brought so many more children in need of quality books within the Foundation’s beneficiary circles. We hope that the stories we left with them will inspire them to dream, to dare and reach their full potential as contributing members of their community”.
“The increasing number of Arab refugee children around the world and the large demand for books written in the Arabic language has made our role in enhancing the literacy of young vulnerable populations more pertinent than ever before. In Sharjah, we believe in the power of well-crafted stories to unlock true human potential and our leadership has placed reading and literacy at the core of sustainable development. In line with this belief, we have designed the Pledge a Library and ARA initiatives to advance literacy and uphold children’s right to access books in all formats”, she added.
Sandra Flores, Protection Officer, Foundation Orient-Occident said: “Education plays a pivotal role in the development of refugee children. It gives them the knowledge and skills to live a fulfilling life. Books expose children to different views and new perspectives. UNHCR is very grateful for this book donation from Kalimat Foundation that will also allow young non-Arabic speaking refugees to have access to engaging tools to learn Arabic, the local language of their host country, and thus strengthen their social integration.”
Storytelling and workshops to inculcate lifelong values in future generations
Also part of Kalimat Foundation’s visit to the Kingdom of Morocco was a storytelling and workshops series to instil a love of books by engaging children and their peers with stories and story-themed activities in interactive and experiential ways.
Director of Special Initiatives, Reem Jassim, engaged a group of children at the East West Foundation – Fondation Orient-Occident, with a reading of Maitha Al Khayat’s My Mother’s Wonder Socks, a simple story that reflects children’s ability to think and formulate conclusions.
Jassim led another session for students of Moroccan Association for the Integration of the Blind – Association Marocaine pour l’insertion where she captured imaginations with the dramatised storytelling of Falfoush Lost his Memory written by Rai Abdulal.
At the Ahmad AlSharqawi School and Imam Malik School, Yasmin Kaoukibi, read The Two Best Friends, whose narrative seeks to inculcate honest behaviours and a firm sense of responsibility in children.