Bringing the gift of Braille storybooks, Kalimat Foundation (KF) has left an indelible mark on the lives of 162,000 children in 30 countries. One such poignant story is that of 14-year-old Rimas from ‘Abdullah Ibn Umm Maktum’ School in Jordan, who, upon receiving Braille storybooks, eloquently conveyed the impact: “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.”
Noor Ashraf Abu Sheikha and Yusuf Abu Dawood, visually impaired children from the “Blind Charitable Society” in Hebron, Palestine, shared a similar sentiment after receiving a rich collection of stories in accessible formats.
The outreach of Kalimat Foundation extends beyond visually impaired children to include underprivileged and refugee children. Aisha, a 9-year-old Syrian refugee in the Netherlands, discovered joy in Kalimat Foundation’s library, choosing a book titled ‘Princesses of the World’ and expressing her excitement, “I’m very excited to read this book and return it to borrow more!”
As the world celebrates World Children’s Day on November 20, KF’s mission is to empower visually disabled and refugee children globally through the transformative power of reading. Since its inception in 2016, KF has impacted lives through initiatives like ‘Ara’ and ‘Pledge a Library,’ fostering social integration, cultural ties, and a love for the Arabic language.
Aligning with UNICEF’s theme for this year, ‘For every child, every right,’ KF has distributed over 45,000 books to 162,000 children in 133 locations across 30 countries. This includes 30,000 books in print Braille, large print, and audio through the ‘Ara’ initiative for blind and visually impaired youth, as well as 16,000 Arabic books and 146 libraries for underprivileged, displaced, and refugee children under the ‘Pledge a Library’ initiative.
The ongoing commitment of the ‘Pledge a Library’ initiative aims to enrich the lives of underprivileged, refugee, and displaced children by providing libraries stocked with 100 Arabic books each. In a recent collaboration with Emirati artist Mohammed Al Mansoori, Kalimat’s inaugural goodwill ambassador, the initiative has launched exclusive merchandise to support this philanthropic cause, with proceeds funding more libraries and empowering children with a love for reading and knowledge.
The ‘Ara’ initiative’s global impact received recognition at the 42nd Sharjah International Book Fair, where it was honored with a ‘Special Commendation Award’ from the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC), a subsidiary of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). This acknowledgment underscores KF’s ongoing efforts to make a difference in the lives of blind and visually impaired children, emphasizing the organization’s role as the UAE’s first non-profit organization to obtain authorization to facilitate access to visually impaired and print-disabled individuals in accordance with the terms of the Marrakesh Treaty.