Kitabna is a publishing initiative which builds on local storytelling practices and creative peacebuilding to develop safe spaces with communities affected by war. This has manifested in several ways: as multilingual illustrated children’s books, story-writing workshops, co-created stories and the development of psychosocial educational tools with INGOs, schools and civil society actors.
Based in the UK, Kitabna works on a non-profit basis with communities displaced by conflict in Syria, Lebanon, Israel-Palestine, Turkey, Iraqi Kurdistan, Jordan and across Europe. We have no political or religious affiliation and are self-funded through book sales and consultancies.
Since starting out in Beirut in 2014, over 20,000 Kitabna books have been shared with children in displacement. Kitabna now has 9 children's book titles in print, with editions in English, Arabic, Kurdish Sorani, French and German. More recently our work has started to focus more on providing a platform for voices in displacement through our story-writing workshops with teachers and children in Jordan, Israel-Palestine and Syria. Our online platform for sharing these co-created stories is The Kitabna Online Library, where anyone can download e-books with audio text accompaniment and soundscapes for free.
In the UK our books are available to read at The British Library, The Bodleian Library Oxford University, The Cambridge University Library, The National Library of Scotland, The National Library of Wales, and in Ireland, Trinity College Dublin. You can listen to Kitabna founder Helen Patuck in podcast to learn more about the origins of our work...
Creative Director, Kitabna author and Illustrator
Based in London, UK
Helen is a creative consultant,
illustrator and children's author from the UK. Since founding Kitabna in 2014, Helen coordinates our work in the UK and Middle East.
Helen is currently consulting on psychosocial interventions for the UN
IASC, World Health Organisation
and Norwegian Refugee Council's ICLA oral history projects around displaced women's access to housing, land, and property rights in Syria. She is completing postgraduate study at SOAS University of London.
Based in Hamburg, Germany
Asia Haidar is a freelance editor, teacher and translator from Aleppo, Syria. Asia has been working as Arabic translator and editor for Kitabna since February 2015 and as an Arabic teacher since 2010.
European Outreach and M&E Coordinator
Based in Genoa, Italy
Federica is an Economics graduate from Genoa. Believing in Kitabna's uniqueness and potential, she tries her best to contribute to the project. She is now working to the expand the project in Europe and on fundraising activities.
Federica is currently working for the Ministry of Health in Uganda on the development of their domestic healthcare policies.
Meet the team
The Kitabna team met in Beirut, Lebanon, in Arabic class. Helen Patuck and Maria Chambers were studying Arabic, and Asia Haidar was their teacher. Together they began to develop the Kitabna methodology: local storytelling and the creation of culturally relevant, multilingual children's books themed around life in refugee camps and displacement. They have now been joined by Federica Margini, who brings her experience of communication and impact measurement tools to our work.
Kitabna كتابنا means "our book" in Arabic
Educational Activities Coordinator and Trainer
Based in Bath, UK
Maria is a teacher, artist and CATT (Children's Accelerated Trauma Therapy) trainer based in the UK. She specializes in using child-centered participatory arts-based techniques to help young people process and re-narrate traumatic memories.
Maria is a leading figure of UK-charity Firefly International and is currently working hard on access to education projects for Syrians living in Turkey.