Date Posted 19 Nov 2023
Upon receiving Braille story books from Kalimat Foundation (KF), 14-year-old visually impaired Rimas from ‘Abdullah Ibn Umm Maktum’ School in Jordan eloquently expressed the essence of the Sharjah-based non-profit's mission through her following words: “I am so happy today because I never had stories to read in braille. Even though I love reading, we never had accessible storybooks before.”
Similarly, this was the feeling of the two children, Noor Ashraf Abu Sheikha and Yusuf Abu Dawood, from the "Blind Charitable Society" in Hebron, Palestine, after receiving a rich collection of stories in accessible formats.
These visually disabled children were not the only ones that Kalimat Foundation brought joy to. The foundation also caters to the reading needs of underprivileged and refugee children. At a refugee center in the Netherlands, 9-year-old Syrian refugee girl, Aisha, ventured to Kalimat Foundation’s library. She felt overwhelming joy as she discovered the library and explored its diverse collection of books. Aisha chose a book titled 'Princesses of the World' and exclaimed, "I'm very excited to read this book and return it to borrow more!"
Changing the lives of 162,000 children in 30 countries
Celebrating World Children's Day on November 20, KF’s guiding mission is to empower visually disabled and refugee children worldwide through the transformative power of reading. Since launching in 2016, KF has inspired and empowered beneficiaries such as Rimas, Noor, Yusuf, and Aisha through its ‘Ara’ and ‘Pledge a Library’ initiatives, strengthening their social integration, cultural ties, and love for the Arabic language.
UNICEF’s theme for this year’s World Children's Day, ‘For every child, every right,’ is echoed in the foundation’s mission, distributing over 45,000 books to more than 162,000 children in 133 locations in 30 countries. This includes 30,000 books in print braille, large print, and audio via KF’s ‘Ara’ initiative for blind and visually impaired youth and nearly 16,000 Arabic books and 146 libraries for underprivileged, displaced and refugee children under the ‘Pledge a Library’ initiative.
Pledge a Library brings refugee children closer to knowledge
The ongoing commitment of the ‘Pledge a Library’ initiative is dedicated to enriching the lives of underprivileged, refugees, and displaced children, by providing them with libraries, each stocked with 100 Arabic books. In a recent collaboration with Emirati artist Mohammed Al Mansoori, Kalimat's inaugural goodwill ambassador, the initiative has released an exclusive range of merchandise that actively supports this philanthropic cause. The generated proceeds aim to fund more libraries, empowering underprivileged children and adolescents with a profound love for reading and a passion for knowledge within their hearts and minds.
Ara Initiative inspires the global community
The positive impact and results of the ‘Ara’ initiative have resonated worldwide. The latest international recognition came during the 42nd Sharjah International Book Fair, receiving a ‘Special Commendation Award’ from the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC), a subsidiary of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). This accolade reflects the foundation's continuous efforts to make a difference in the lives of blind and visually impaired children. It involves cultivating a love for reading and the Arabic language by providing accessible copies of books and sources catering to this segment. This was achieved after KF received authorisation to facilitate access to the visually impaired and print-disabled to publish works in line with the terms of the Marrakesh Treaty, making it the UAE's first non-profit organisation to obtain such a licence.