His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, received a briefing on the reports and projects of Sharjah-IBBY Fund, which was launched in 2012 as a collaborative effort between the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) and the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), and run with the support of the Sharjah government, with the primary objective of supporting the creation of culture of reading and providing books for children whose lives have been disrupted through war, civil disorder, or natural disasters in the region of Central Asia to North Africa (CANA).
The briefing was delivered during His Highness’ visit to the UAEBBY’s stand at the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, on Tuesday, in presence of Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Urban Planning Council, Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, UAEBBY Patron and Chairperson of the Advisory Committee of Sharjah- IBBY Fund, HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Director of the Sharjah International Book Fair, Member of the Advisory Committee of Sharjah- IBBY Fund, and Marwa Obaid Al Aqroubi, President of UAEBBY Executive Board.
Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi gave a brief presentation on the most important results of the projects launched by the fund during the last two years in a number of disadvantaged areas and war-torn countries where children have no access to books. The presentation covered, also, the forthcoming projects scheduled by the Sharjah-IBBY Fund.
Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi confirmed that the fund will continue supporting long-term reading programmes for children in war-torn areas and post-war societies and organizing workshops and conferences to teachers and tutors in those areas.
Marwa Obaid Al Aqroubi, presented new four projects approved by the Sharjah-IBBY Fund for the current year. These projects include ‘Tell me a Story’ from Lebanon, which aims to host reading sessions and workshops at clinics; and, ensuring access to quality books through the establishment of mobile libraries. The other approved projects include a continuation of the work being done in Afghanistan; a project that establishes small libraries in schools in Tunisia for disadvantaged children; and, support to IBBY members in the region to allow them to participate in the 2014 IBBY World Congress.
She clarified, “The Sharjah-IBBY Fund has managed, since its establishment in April 2012, to help thousands of children in a number of countries through a host of training programmes and cultural initiatives, including setting up libraries and organizing workshops and conferences in different parts of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Palestine and Iran, The Fund also supported a regional meeting in 2013 in Sharjah that brought together experts and practitioners to discuss the role and problems faced by children’s literature across the region.”
The fund’s projects included teaching and enabling 500 children in 12 kindergartens in remote and deprived villages in South Khorasan in Iran, where training was provided also to teachers, tutors and school librarians. In addition, the project supported educational and reading activities in two libraries in Palestine for the benefit of over 1000 children, including young adults and children with special needs. The two libraries were also upgraded with the support of the Fund.
The Fund has provided books to disenfranchised children in IDP camps in Kabul, Herat, and Mazar-E-Sharif in Afghanistan. Children in South Waziristan and Swat in Pakistan benefited, also, from the Fund’s support in setting up libraries that give them access to books and knowledge that would otherwise not have been possible. The Sharjah-IBBY Fund, a joint effort between the UAEBBY and the IBBY, aims to promote a love of reading among children so that they become life-long readers, to ensure that children have access to books, and to support needed training programmes for professionals in this field.
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Yousef Al Taweel