Based in Hamburg, Germany
Asia Haidar is a freelance editor, teacher and translator from Aleppo, Syria. Asia has been working for Kitabna since February 2015 and as an Arabic teacher since 2010.
Creative Director, Kitabna author and illustrator
Based in Geneva, Switzerland
Helen is a writing consultant, illustrator and children's author. Since founding Kitabna in 2014, Helen coordinates our work in Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Europe.
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 specific child-centered art based techniques to help young people process and re-script traumatic memories.
We now have 7 titles in print, with additional editions in Arabic, English, Turkish, French, German, Spanish, Greek, Sorani, Farsi and Urdu. More recently our work has started to focus more on giving a platform to voices in displacement. Since starting out in Beirut in 2014, over 17,000 Kitabna books have been distributed to children in displacement across the world. We are working in the countries circled on this map.
In the UK our books are available to read at The British Library, The Bodleian Library Oxford University, The Cambridge University Library, National Library of Scotland, National Library of Wales and Trinity College Dublin.
Meet the team
The Kitabna team met in Beirut, Lebanon, at an Arabic school which specializes in teaching the Levantine dialect. Helen Patuck and Maria Chambers were students of Arabic, and Asia Haidar was their teacher. Together we began to develop the Kitabna methodology: culturally relevant, multilingual stories themed around life in refugee camps and displacement. They have now been joined by Federica Margini, who brings her experience in M&E assessment from the World Health Organization to measure Kitabna's impact.
European Outreach and M&E Coordinator
Based in Genoa, Italy
Federica is an Economics graduate from Genova. 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.
Kitabna is a non-political, non-religious, non-profit reading, writing and publishing initiative, registered as a social business in the UK.
Since 2014, Kitabna has been writing and illustrating multi-lingual children's books for families displaced by sectarian violence in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Turkey, Iraqi Kurdistan and Jordan. Our books aim to create pride, learning, fun and dignity in the stigmatized refugee experience.
Our general objectives are:
to encourage reading and writing skills in both Arabic and a secondary language through the creation of multilingual children's books
to stimulate imagination and encourage children to help each other create and learn
to develop children's creative abilities by encouraging them to write their own stories
to set warm and fun stories in refugee camps, creating pride and dignity in an environment which is home for these children and will be until the sectarian violence ends in their home country.
Our writing objectives are to create books for displaced communities that can be used as:
multi-lingual educational tools to keep reading alive when formal education is unavailable
bridges between linguistically and culturally diverse communities
naturally safe spaces for children suffering from PTSD to revisit and reorganize difficult memories of displacement
sources of hope and inspiration to children and teachers in displacement.
Our training objectives are to nurture the following in teachers and educators living in displacement:
a culture of pride and dignity in local storytelling
empowered educational leaders and teachers with the skills/knowledge to nurture creative expression in students and creative stimulating activities
the following twelve key 21st century skills in educational leaders, teachers and students:
1. Creativity and imagination
2. Collaboration and teamwork
3. Critical thinking
4. Problem solving
5. Flexibility and adaptability
6. Global and cultural awareness
7. Information literacy
9. Oral and written communication skills
10. Social responsibility and ethics
11. Technology literacy
Kitabna means "our book" in Arabic