Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, today constituting four medical campuses in the German capital, is amongst Europe’s largest university hospitals. It was first established in 1710, in preparedness of a spreading bubonic plague epidemic in the north east, subsequently becoming a charitable medical facility for those in need. Ever since, it has carried a significant legacy in leading scientific research.
In October 2018, a team from Kalimat Foundation paid a visit to its Campus Virchow-Klinikum on behalf of the Pledge a Library campaign, to donate books for the benefit of some of the younger patients from Arab descent; a number of whom belong to refugee and asylum seeking families. The books were delivered with the objective of being a beneficial intellectual resource, a warming connection with homeland traditions, and a remedy to the many frustrating hours spent while under treatment.
Manar, a seven-year old cancer patient whose parents fled the conflict in Syria, was amongst the first to make use of the new library. Reflecting upon some of the more difficult experiences to bear while in hospital, he mentioned a friend who was no longer with him, and the emptiness felt. He referred to the toys that he now knew very well, and which no longer derived interest. The library, which contained 100 titles in the language he understood well, was in Manar’s terms ‘something great’. It would help in passing time, and he would not feel bored any longer.
The books propositioned comfort in their association with the Arabic culture that represents home, particularly while children like Manar adapt to a new environment and circumstances. They also brought the promise of hours well spent, and companionship.
In total, 12 libraries were donated to seven organisations including Charité, during the foundation’s mission to Germany. A little peace of mind it is very much hoped, can help ease current predicaments and improve prospects for children such as Manar.