The Sharjah International Board on Books for Young People, IBBY, Fund has selected its latest programmes for sponsorship at an advisory committee meeting held during the Bologna Children's Book Fair on March 31st.
The Fund, launched in 2012 by the UAE Board on Books for Young People, UAEBBY, and the International Board on Books for Young People, promotes a love of reading among children affected by war, civil unrest or natural disasters in the region of Central Asia and North Africa, CANA, through projects implemented in those countries. Attendees of the meeting included Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Founder and Patron of the UAEBBY, Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Amri, Presedent of Sharjah Book Fair Authority, Marwa Al Aqroubi, UAEBBY President, Wally de Doncker, IBBY President, Patricia Aldana, President of the IBBY Foundation, Shereen Hasbini, Lebanon IBBY representative, Hasmig Chahinian, France IBBY representative, and Liz Page, IBBY Executive Director.
This year, the fund chose to sponsor the Palestinian section of the IBBY (PBBY) and ASCHIANA (Afghanistan's Children – A New Approach) programmes, so that disadvantaged children in these two countries have access to books, activities and workshops that help to shape them as individuals and prepare them for the future.
The Palestinian project, which aims to help children post-war in the Gaza Strip, will provide training programmes and support for youth suffering from poverty, dangerous living conditions and displacement. It will be run at the Gaza Strip's sole library Al-Sikah, until Al-Ata'a library, destroyed during conflict, is rebuilt. The project plans to reconstruct book collections, support traumatised children through bibliotherapy, and provide socio-psychological support, stress relief and creative book-related activities.
The Afghanistan project is a continuation of the Aschiana/IBBY mobile library programme, which provides a long-term reading plan for children living in refugee camps and orphanages, as well in juvenile rehabilitation and disability centres. This programme, which was originally implemented in Kabul, Herat and Mazar-i-Shari, will be expanded to include Paktya province this year.
The programme targets remote areas of Afghanistan where little attention is paid to education and children's rights are mostly unacknowledged. The project will specifically provide training for library assistants, reading assistants, storytellers and art trainers, and fund a mobile library in each of the aforementioned cities. The libraries will also be provided with new reading material.
On the selection of these programmes, Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi said, "This year's meeting was very successful in selecting programmes that will truly make a difference in Palestine and Afghanistan and bring books to children who have experienced trauma and financial instability in post-crisis environments. These programmes will hold activities and workshops aimed to not only encourage children to read, but to offer them the comfort and joy they may not have received otherwise."
The IBBY Fund has thus far seen the success of numerous projects based in CANA. Last year's selected programmes were 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 the financial aid of CANA IBBY members who were unable to attend the IBBY World Congress in Mexico.