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 girls are 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...
Through the provision of engaging reading material to vulnerable and visually disable children from Arabic communities, we aim to ease social integration and also anchor cultural roots, for the purpose of building better prospects in learning and better opportunities in adulthood.
Honouring Arab Culture
We encourage and facilitate, the production and distribution of books in Arabic, in order to protect and sustain culture, heritage and a secure sense of being.
Kalimat Foundation is committed to connecting civil society, by suppling literary titles that encourage understanding and dialogue between communities. In similar respect, stories present contemporary social analogies for youngsters, with the aim of supporting integration.
We are dedicated to raising awareness on the importance of advancing literacy to disadvantaged youth. We do this through our work in distribution, events hosted to educate the public on literacy for the vulnerable and visually disabled, workshops on new technologies and workflows in accessible publishing, and agreements with publishers and businesses to boost production in formats such as braille, large print, audio and accessible EPUB3.
As a policy advisor, we assess populations represented by the underserved in our scope of work, their demographics, capabilities, and the teaching, literary and technological resources available or missing. The objective here being to understand needs and gaps to address.
in furthering literacy
Kalimat Foundation began operations in 2016, to protect the rights of vulnerable and visually disabled children,and their ability to access books. The period was marked by obdurate civil conflict in the Middle East, including Syria, from where large populations fled to new countries and new cultural contexts. The same decade was also signified by growing requests from host nations for Arabic literature. Hand in hand with this call to action, to serve children in new territories and communities, came the step to support the literacy of visually impaired and blind youth, again underserved in their access to suitable reading material.
The paths taken by our Pledge a Library and Ara programmes, have not been without challenge. Regarding Pledge a Library, administering logistics was sometimes very hard, as was receiving approvals where security concerns arose, particularly in public libraries and refugee camps. With Ara, decisions and book deliveries were hampered by obstacles ranging from a lack of guidelines supporting the production of accessible books, to a dearth in population demographics and scant information on organisations that serve those children.
Kalimat Foundation’s credibility has, nonetheless, been widely recognised, thanks to the standing of Kalimat Group in publishing and in the capacity for tailoring books based upon recipient demands. With effort, diligence and assistance from the United Arab Emirates’ foreign missions, 22,405 books have since made their way, or been committed to, migrant camps, migrant and community centres, libraries, schools and hospitals around the world. Here is a brief summary on how we have progressed on programming in the past five years.
The global view
Working to sustain the rights of underserved children in reading, upholding Arabic culture, supporting social integration, and ensuring equity and objectivity, has required vigour and diligence. The foundation’s advances over the past five years are depicted in this section. 23 countries, and more than 22,000 books are delivered globally, 9,000 of which represent accessible formats for the visually disabled. Jordan, with its significant refugee populations arising from civil war in Syria, is our largest receiving territory.
Worldwide book distribution
Cumulative book distribution across programmes
Top 10 countries, % book distribution across programmes
Pledge a Library
Activities by country in chronological order
Kalimat Foundation set out on its first deliveries in April 2017, with the printing of 250 books for visually disabled children in the United Arab Emirates.
There have since been 35 interventions globally. Activity by June 2021, has resulted in the provision of more than 22,000 books in 23 territories.
With respect to the children reached statistic, numbers have been most clearly gauged through Pledge a Library, 88,749 in total.