3) Our method
Reading, writing and storytelling
Our simple methodology exists to maximise the potential of stories where resources and curriculum materials are scarce. We hope anyone accessing it will consider it a practical example of how they can build their own creative processes. Our ultimate aim is to create safe spaces in which teachers, parents and children can explore indigenous storytelling activities.
We encourage civil society organisations, schools and individuals working with displaced communities to contact us about our books regardless of whether or not they have the resources to buy them. We often make donations ranging from individual books to thousands, depending on your needs.
The interview here shows how one headmaster teaching Syrian children at an informal education centre in Lebanon used a donation of 250 copies of The Cat's Family made in 2016.
6) Designing materials for psychosocial interventions
Engaging teachers and children
Following the discovery of our books in Palestine, Kitabna was commissioned to re-design and illustrate the incredible "Better Learning Program" (BLP) methodology developed by the University of Tromsø and the Norwegian Refugee Council. Since 2013 the BLP manuals have been used as field manuals for teachers working with children suffering from traumas in conflict and post-conflict zones. Just as first aid manuals exist to deal with physical hurt and pain, these manuals take an important step forward in developing the same guidance for mental health and emotional injury. Perhaps most significantly, the manuals have been proven to reduce children's nightmares from 5 per week to 0. We were excited to bring Kitabna's child-friendly style and approach to this important methodology.
The manuals were illustrated with black line and watercolour, with Arabic and English editions created. in 2018, we worked on the editions developed for pilot in Afghanistan, Myanmar and Kenya.
These radio plays of Kitabna books were created by Amal FM, which broadcasts into Raqqa, Syria, in 2017. Amal FM is a beacon of positivity and hope for the future of Syria. It is an independent, community radio station that informs, stimulates and energizes listeners with a rich mix of contemporary and traditional culture via music and spoken word. It has an active and ongoing dialogue with its audience and Amal FM has a core goal of broadcasting messages of hope and optimism to Syrian people enduring ongoing conflict. We hope you can download and enjoy!
4) Our story-writing and capacity building workshops
Working with educators to share our methodology and develop creative methods together
5) Anthology creation
Creating anthologies of stories with teachers in displacement
The Giant Watermelon Esraa's Stories The Cat's Family The Lake Where Frogs Lived The Starling's Visit The Bird Words
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The Kitabna team spent one year developing our initiative with Syrian and Palestinian communities in Lebanon. Since then our work has taken us to projects in Iraq, Jordan, Israel-Palestine, Syria, Greece, France (Calais/Dunkirk), and Northern Ireland. Over 20,000 Kitabna books have been distributed to children in displacement now, including distribution with individual families, multiple civil society actors, The United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the Norwegian Refugee Council, Worldreader, Save the Children International, the International Rescue Committee and the Northern Ireland Education Authority, with funding from the UK Home Office. We are always looking for new ways to collaborate with people and organisations using creative practices to develop learning and dignity with conflict-affected communities. Please explore our scope of work below and get in touch if you would like to work with us.
7) Donating our books to schools in refugee and host communities
We understand that not everyone has the resources to buy our books
2) Radio plays of our stories
Beautiful Arabic-language radio plays of our stories are available to listen to and download here
In November 2015, Kitabna were contracted by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Jordan to deliver 2 weeks of story-telling, story-writing and book-making trainings to NRC Youth and Education Teams in Zaatari, Azraq and EJC camps. Kitabna author, Helen Patuck, and Maria Chambers of the Kitabna team delivered these trainings. By the end of the two weeks we had created 8 beautiful stories, and the teachers had the skills to use limited camp resources to make print-ready copies and print them for their students.
Following the success of this training and further trainings in early 2017, Kitabna developed artwork for these stories and worked with designers to bring together a final anthology of 5 stories. Kitabna worked with designers and proof-readers to submit a print-ready proof to the NRC in Jordan. Once upon a time in Zaatari and Azraq: Tales from our refugee camps was printed in June 2017, and can be read online and downloaded.
Our latest anthology, Our stories, our Syria was developed in workshops in north-east Syria in March and April 2019. Following one month of workshops in Al Hol, Mabrouka and Ain Isa internally displaced persons (IDP) camps, Syrian children and youth developed 4 beautiful stories. These stories not only showcase their insights into life during the ongoing conflict, but also the hopes and fears of communities who plan to rebuild their lives despite the ongoing war in Syria.
7 ways we work with people
Since 2015 we have offered teacher, counsellor and parent workshops to develop basic reading, story-telling, story-writing and book-making activities. These activities create a framework in which local practices of storytelling and learning can be incorporated into educational spaces in displacement camps. They are carried out in Arabic and English, and have been warmly received across Lebanon, Iraqi Kurdistan, Jordan, Palestine, and Syria. They are delivered by Kitabna author, Helen Patuck, and teacher, Maria Chambers, of the Kitabna team. The objectives of these workshops are to develop the following with teachers and educators living in displacement:
a culture of practice and dignity in local storytelling methods
best practices through intercultural dialogue
confidence in local knowledge around creative expression
1) Our books
Children’s stories around displacement in the languages of refugee/host communities (paperback and digital)