Monday, August 10, 2015

Help kids to read amid strife

The Sharjah IBBY Fund, launched in 2012 by the United Arab Emirates Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) and the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), has just completed a transfer of 100,000 Swiss Francs (approximately AED 400,000) to assist in sustaining libraries, reading plans and training programmes for war torn and underprivileged children in Palestine and Afghanistan.

The projects, which were selected for sponsorship by the Fund during the Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2015, will provide children in the two countries with access to books, activities and workshops that aim to offer them both comfort and the support needed in preparing them for brighter futures.

The Palestinian project run by PBBY, the Palestinian section of the IBBY, is establishing training programmes geared towards helping young victims of war in the Gaza Strip through books. These programmes are due to be held at the Gaza Strip’s Al-Sikah library until Al-Ata’a library, which was destroyed during conflict, is rebuilt. The project also plans to reconstruct book collections and offer bibliotherapy, socio-psychological support and stress relief via unique reading-related activities.

The Afghanistan project, which is a continuation of the ASCHIANA/IBBY mobile library programme, focuses on a long-term reading plan for local children living in refugee camps, orphanages, and disability and juvenile rehabilitation centres. The Sharjah IBBY Fund’s sponsorship money will aid library assistants, reading assistants, storytellers and art trainers in their work with underprivileged children, as well as help to set up mobile libraries in Kabul, Herat, Mazar-i-Shari and the Paktya province.

Speaking on the transfer of funds, Marwa Al Aqroubi, President of the UAEBBY, commented, "We are very pleased with the smooth and successful transfer of funds, and that the PBBY and ASCHIANA organisations will be able to start working on their projects right away. With our support, volunteers in Palestine and Afghanistan will be fully equipped to assist disadvantaged and underprivileged children in moving past adversity and to help open them up to new possibilities in their lives."

The Sharjah IBBY Fund supported several successful projects last year in the CANA region, including Lebanon’s ‘Tell me a Story’ project, a long-term reading programme that supports children living in poverty in Beirut; Tunisia’s ‘Book Boxes’, a project designed to give boxes filled with reading material and audio books for blind, partially sighted, and autistic children; Afghanistan’s mobile library programme; and financial aid for CANA IBBY members to attend the IBBY World Congress in Mexico. –End-

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