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 Pledge a Library and Ara; the foundation’s two main distribution programmes have often faced challenge. Regarding Pledge a Library, administering logistics was sometimes 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, intergovernmental and NGO partners; 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 progress over the past six years.