As a publisher and a mother, seeing my children's eyes light up when they open a book for the first time, I find it hard to accept that millions of boys and girl sare still not able to benefit from the joy that reading presents. It has subsequently become my mission, to deliver books into the hands of underserved youth in the region and worldwide, with the belief that we owe vulnerable young minds a better narrative in life.
Reading ignites curiosity, sparks the imagination, encourages dialogue and opens the doors to a variety of creative possibilities. I want to bring this magic into as many lives as possible. In 2016, I launched Kalimat Foundation to empower underprivileged children through books, with the expectation that this might lead toward literacy and more prosperous futures. In honour of this pursuit, we have since sent collections to communities in rural areas, hospitals, orphanages, refugee camps, libraries and schools. Our greatest distribution efforts are for displaced children from the Middle East, largely affected by war, and those with visual disabilities. The contribution toward the former aims to preserve the cultural identity for ones separated from their homelands, and to promote the region’s heritage and the Arabic language. For the blind and visually impaired, the objective is to develop literacy to advance self-dependence and integration into society.
Every project and programme launched revolves around our purpose. We have in total, committed and delivered a touch above 22,000 books in 22 countries. Through the ‘Pledge a Library’ initiative, 12,400 bookshave been donated offering access to an approximate 89,000 youngsters in four continents. We have further received delightful news of the evolution of book clubs comprising our titles, in recipient locations around the world. With Ara, meaning ‘I see’ in Arabic, the foundation offers audio, large-print, and print braille books to visually disabled boys and girls, and their families in order that they read, or listen to, stories together.
Correspondingly, insight is offered in this report on our activity, progress, international footprint, recipient and partner input, as well as statistics on book distribution. I am grateful to our partners, for the diligence and support given in advising where to deliver books and libraries, and for their involvement in publishing. I would also like to thank our sponsors for the very generous donations, making this endeavour for knowledge possible. Covid-19 has been exceptionally challenging for children’s educationand the drive toward literacy. It has accelerated the need to develop online technologies in reading support –a format that is being called for, from places as far afield as Zaatari refugee camp in northern Jordan to São Paulo in Brazil.
We shall continue to work very hard to nurture underserved boys and girls, to promote reading’s transformative potential, and pass on the best of our living culture. A better future sits between the pages of many books.The purpose that began as a seed in a mother’s mind, is now a global movement that we hope will take root, diversify and grow. Our ultimate goal is to close the literacy gap and drive more equitable futures for those who experience tremendous difficulties at a young age.
Bodour Al Qasimi, Founder and Chairperson