They’re helping bring hope to children around the world.
Conflicts across the Middle East have had a tremendously adverse effect on children, the most vulnerable members of the population. With the Syrian civil war now in its seventh year and the Iraqi territories retaken from the Islamic State still unstable, millions of children in refugee camps have had to spend their early years dealing with the dire consequences of war.
But the American non-profit behind the popular children’s show Sesame Street, Sesame Workshop, says it is sending its lovable and furry Muppets to these countries to help bring laughter and build resilience in the affected kids.
In an interview with VOA, Sesame Workshop’s senior vice president for international social impact, Shari Rosenfeld, said her organization was teaming up with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to provide early education to help children and families overcome the trauma of conflict.
“We will deliver this in two ways: direct, in-person services for 1.5 million of the most vulnerable children, as well as a new educational broadcast that will reach 9.4 million children across Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria,” she said.
In December 2017, the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change program — a competition for funds to support a program that promises measurable progress in solving a critical contemporary problem — awarded Sesame Workshop and the IRC a grant of $100 million to help implement the project.
Rosenfeld said the program would introduce a localized version of Sesame Streetto provide engaging educational messages covering reading, languages, math and social skills.
Instead of using popular character names such as Elmo, Big Bird and Cookie Monster, the puppets will have regional names and will speak Arabic and Kurdish.
“Not only will our content be made available through traditional television broadcast, but it will also be available on digital platforms like WhatsApp,” she said.