IBBY Children in Crisis Fund

Monday 15 February 2021 by Rania

The IBBY Children in Crisis Fund provides support for children whose lives have been disrupted through war, civil disorder or natural disaster. The two main activities that are supported by the Fund are the therapeutic use of books and storytelling in the form of bibliotherapy, and the creation or replacement of collections of selected books that are appropriate to the situation.

For children whose lives have been disrupted by war, civil disorder or natural disasters in the region of Central Asia to North Africa, projects that provided books and promoted a culture of reading were funded by the Sharjah/IBBY Fund from 2012 to 2016.

We hope the programme will not only provide immediate support and help, but that it will also make a long term impact in the communities, thus supporting IBBY’s belief that every child has the right to become a reader. Based on predetermined criteria IBBY selects the communities where the projects will be funded. The basic criteria include:

• the existence of a short or long term situation of crisis in the lives of the children of the community;
• the availability of a strong, capable IBBY section either in the affected or a neighbouring country and/or the presence of a capable IBBY partner;
• the strength of the project and its possible short and long term impact in fulfilling IBBY’s goals;
• the availability of money.

IBBY Children in Crisis Fund Projects

Lebanon: Explosion in Beirut
The enormous warehouse explosion on 4 August caused catastrophic damage throughout Beirut, affecting schools and libraries. IBBY Lebanon (LBBY), with its years of experience in helping traumatized children and re-building libraries, is working, together with UNESCO, with local schools to help them rebuild their libraries, including repairing the libraries, providing new books and training the librarians. They are working with public schools that were not well equiped but are still standing, though they have many extra students from schools that were destroyed. The renovation work has proceeded rapidly and transformed the libraries into bright, welcoming rooms. Photos of the schools and libraries just after the explosion, the renovation and a rebuilt library can be seen here.

Gaza, Palestine: IBBY Libraries
IBBY has been supporting two children’s libraries in Gaza since 2008. One library was situated in the northern community of Beit Hanoun near the Israeli border, the other in the south in the town of Rafah, close to the border crossing with Egypt. The funding for the libraries came, to a great extent, from the great American children’s author Katherine Paterson and her family foundation. These libraries were destroyed in July 2014. In October 2014 IBBY launched an appeal for the reconstruction of IBBY’s Gaza libraries and then again in April 2017 IBBY launched a new appeal for funds to keep the libraries in Gaza open and active. The Gaza libraries also received funding for education, storytelling and recreation activities from the Sharjah/IBBY Fund. In May 2020, after several weeks of lockdown, children visiting the libraries in Gaza were invited to express their thoughts and fears about the coronavirus, their pictures can be viewed here and their writing can be found here.

El Salvador: Library of Dreams, La biblioteca de los sueños
El Salvador is the “peace-time” country with the highest per capita homicide rate in the world. Gangs are essentially determining the fate of children, which is why so many have elected to leave. Library of Dreams was created in one of the neighbourhoods where people live immersed in a climate of insecurity. We know that through reading, Salvadoran children can dream and make healthy positive choices for their future. The Library creates a space where children of El Salvador may develop an approach to literature, art and nature through reading and the experience of a harmonious encounter with nature such that through them they can arrive at a more dignified and just coexistence and to be empowered to create real change in their lives.

Iran: Libraries and Read with Me
IBBY began supporting Read with Me in 2012, through the Sharjah/IBBY Fund. In 2014, remote villages in South Khorasan in Iran, deprived children were able to access to quality books through the Read with Me project, with the support of the Sharjah/IBBY Fund. Selected books were purchased and packed in “book bags” to be sent to kindergartens to provide three months of reading, then the bags are exchanged between the kindergartens in the region. In 2016, the Sharjah/IBBY Fund funded a project to set up and maintain libraries in deprived sectors of ethnic and religious minorities, targeting poor and deprived Iranian children in the Sistan and Balouchestan provinces. The objective was to furnish children of minority religions and ethic groups living in remote and poor regions of Iran with appropriate and high quality books. In April 2019, Read with Me began a series of reading projects to meet the needs of children in areas of Iran affected by floods: Lorestan Province (KhorramAbad, Doroud, Poldokhtar) and Khuzestan Province (Gourieh): the project is summarised in the report, Read with Me in Flooded Regions. In 2020, in response to the closing of schools and kindergartens due to the coronavirus pandemic, Read with Me has set up a Read with Me at Home activities.

Afghanistan: Mobile Libraries
In Afghanistan, the Sharjah/IBBY Fund has provided books and storytelling to children in camps for Internally Displaced Persons in Kabul, Herat and Mazar-E-Sharif. The children were encouraged to read by trained reading assistants, library assistants and storytellers and the project also provided reading materials through mobile libraries. The project was continued in 2014 and in 2015 was extended to Paktya. The focus of efforts in 2016 was on putting mobile libraries in the form of book cupboards in different locations in Kabul province. The IBBY Children in Crisis Fund provided further support for projects in Afghanistan in 2017. In 2017 and 2019 projects in Afghanistan received funding through the IBBY-Yamada Fund.

US/Mexican Border: IBBY-REFORMA Project
The organization REFORMA (an affiliate of the American Library Association) works with migrant children detained in the south western USA. It began soliciting children’s books in Spanish to be delivered to the children in the detention centres in Texas and New Mexico and to the shelters and group homes around the country where these children are sent after being processed by the immigration services. In the second phase of the project they distributed backpacks that contained books as well as paper, pencils, erasers, crayons and a writing journal for children to use in their journey toward their destination. In 2015 the IBBY Foundation provided funding for REFORMA towards the acquisition of books for this project. A specially designed English/Spanish "library card" was added to the backpacks to introduce the children to the library system in the USA. The library card was re-issued in January 2019 and can be seen here. Inspired by the IBBY-Reforma project IBBY Canada has created a library card and has partnered with groups that welcome refugees to Canada to participate in a Readers and Refugees programme of storytelling for refugee children.

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