Sharjah-IBBY Fund’s Advisory Committee members announced

Sharjah: The UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) has announced the names of the members of the Sharjah IBBY Fund’s Advisory Committee. The Fund was created last April by the UAEBBY and the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY).

The Fund, the first of its kind in the region, is supported and funded by the Sharjah Government and targets children whose lives have been adversely affected by war, natural disaster, crises, poverty or disease, in the Central Asian and North African regions.

The committee has been created to supervise the Fund and ensure that the funding is utilised in the right direction to achieve UAEBBY’s objectives. These include fostering a love of reading among children so that they may become lifelong readers, the development and support of long-term programmes dedicated to reading and children’s books, organising and financing training programmes for professionals working in the field of reading promotion in their respective countries as well as helping to expand the existing IBBY network.

The committee will be chaired by Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, President of the UAEBBY and founder and CEO of Kalimat, the Sharjah-based Arabic children’s publishing house, which has produced over a hundred original Arabic books for children in the past five years.

Speaking about the role of the committee in ensuring the Fund’s success, Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, committee chair and president UAEBBY, said, “The Sharjah IBBY Fund has the potential to make a significantly positive impact on children whose lives are in turmoil due to wars, natural calamities, grinding poverty or epidemics. It is our responsibility to ensure that we achieve the objective for which the Fund was set up. All members of the committee are fully committed to creating and seeing through proactive and effective programmes that will open new doors for the children involved.” Joining Sheikha Bodour on the committee is Patricia Aldana, president of the IBBY Foundation and the founder of Groundwood Books, a Canadian children’s publishing house. Aldana was named to the Order of Canada in 2010 and was the recipient of the Les Fowlie Intellectual Freedom Award in 2011.

Two other members of the committee, nominated by the UAEBBY, are Ahmed bin Rakadh Al Amri, director of the Sharjah International Book Fair and the acclaimed children’s author and ambassador for the UAEBBY, Marwa Al Aqroubi. She is also the General Coordinator for the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature and a Business Development Manager in the Executive Office of Sheikha Bodour.

The final two members are Hasmig Chahinian, who holds a PhD in children’s literature from the University of Paris and is currently in charge of the Arab World at the International Division of the French National Centre for Children’s Literature, and Jehan Helou, president of the Palestine Board on Books for Young People and the former general director of the Tamer Institute for Community Education. She is also the editor of Taif magazine, which is dedicated to children’s literature in Palestine. Both are members of the current IBBY Executive Committee. The Advisory Committee will meet at least once a year.

As part of the agreement, the Sharjah government will contribute one million Swiss Francs (equivalent to AED4 million) towards the objectives of the Fund over a period of 10 years. The IBBY International Secretariat in Switzerland will administer the funding.

UAEBBY is one of the 77 national sections of IBBY. IBBY was established in 1953 and represents an international network of people from all over the world who are committed to bringing books and children together.

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