Activity Reports – 2023 p.3


Communities bound by books

‘We have had on two occasions girls come to the library and literally jump up and down with joy when they saw the books.’

Since its November 2017 launch, Pledge a Library partners and recipients have commented on results arising from book donations. A number of common gains have emerged, some of which were foreseen from the outset, while others have transpired with time. The development of literacy in Arabic and its contribution to formal education, is considered a key benefit amongst organisations receiving books on the Pledge a Library programme. In northern Jordan’s Zaatari camp, housing a population of about 80,000 refugees from Syria, Blumont, a not-for-profit organisation responsible for a community-based protection project, manages the libraries sent by Kalimat Foundation.

According to Siraj Al-Hmoud, the senior camp manager, up to 2,000 children aged from two to 17 years old, have access to the books. Through Blumont’s Tiger reading club, literacy has become an integral component to a holistic learning framework constituting Arabic and English languages, ICT and art. Outreach programmes that push into Zaatari’s districts by way of mobile libraries, have also been implemented to foster community spirit. Libraries in the refugee camp have subsequently become a cornerstone of everyday life, in which children, parents, businesses and institutions all partake in lending and reading opportunities….

Keeping in touch with the future as the world advances

‘The key is always education. If children who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled can complete their schooling and experience no barriers in obtaining a higher education, the sky is the limit.’

The universe in which visually disabled children are educated, and cared for, requires substantial attention to needs. One that is embodied by manifest purpose, to guide and set a path for those whose worlds are shrouded in darkness, or obscurity, and where light, colour and form can be non-existent. Managing the futures of youth with such incapacity hence demands great responsibility. Where Kalimat Foundation has offered its support in aiding literacy, we have asked programme partners and recipients on some of the outcomes resulting from Ara interventions. In respect to organisations that have benefited from, and supported Ara, their remits are often wide-ranging and include schooling and enrolment into education, life skills development, health, welfare and the progression of accessible publishing. In the Middle East context, where books in Arabic are often not readily available, Kalimat Foundation has worked to identify how best it can encourage reading…

Marrakesh Treaty support authorizes accessible book publishing and
strengthens distribution capabilities

Support for the Marrakesh Treaty, License to Publish and Evolution in Accessible Book Distribution

Since Kalimat Foundation’s inception and central to its purpose, the team has been active in promoting the provisions of the 2013 Marrakesh VIP Treaty for international copyright exceptions, defining mechanisms for the publication of titles in accessible formats – Braille, large print, audio and eBooks – across the globe. A main incentive behind the covenant according to the World Blind Union, is to provide more reading opportunities for the blind and visually impaired where the great majority of published material – over 90% – cannot be read by print disabled persons.

In September 2022, following sustained expansion with distributing suitable book formats and through generating greater awareness on the deficiencies in literature for the visually disabled; the foundation became the first non-profit organisation granted license to publish accessible books by the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Economy.

One month later in October, bolstering Kalimat medium and long-term accessible book distribution strategy, the Accessible Books Consortium, a public-private partnership of key stakeholders including the World Blind Union and headed by the World Intellectual Property Organisation; granted our organisation authorised entity access to its Global Book Service and a repository of more than 730,000 titles. The significance and benefit came in the capacity for us to share digital material in Arabic and utilise books uploaded by other authorised entities around the world, avoiding the need for processing further approvals from copyright owners.

With the new capabilities appears the larger significance of sustaining greater hope, not least amongst those in Arabic-speaking countries and communities. The literary publishing license and considerable resources now at hand should allow the foundation to plan and execute broader, more penetrating distribution objectives with more effective, more tangible results,

As of today, highlighting our determination to deliver the mission with which we have set out – equipping vulnerable and visually disabled children with knowledge and ideas in books, Kalimat Foundation has evolved beyond its traditional awareness, capacity-building and distribution remit. Our deeper involvement in the supply chain defines us equally as an accessible publishing operation with membership of the Global Book Service platform and wider international reach.

Governments in the Middle East region and elsewhere have plans and structures in place to help develop knowledge-based economies. Kalimat Foundation’s work in supporting literacy for those who need it, is expected to derive benefits particularly where these strategies are concerned – in the ability to read and articulate thought, adapt to technology, build knowledge and find upwardly mobile opportunities in education and the workforce.

Kalimat Group is an award-winning multi-imprint publisher of more than 450 titles together with licensing and distribution rights in 16 countries. 250 of the group’s books come under the Kalimat imprint, where stories often look at Arabic tradition and the contrasts and comparisons experienced by children as they grow up, of socio-cultural themes inalternative and global settings.

Kalimat imprint is a partner of leading international publishers, namely Bloomsbury in the United Kingdom, Quarto in the United States, France’s Editions Gallimard Jeunesse and Italy’s Galluci Editore. In respect to accolades, these include in 2012 and 2015, the Arab 21 Awards from the Arab Thought Foundation, in 2016 the Bologna Children’s Book Fair Best Children’s Publisher of the Year award representing Asia, and in 2017, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award for best publisher.

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