“Sesame Street” Is Launching an Arabic Series to Help Refugee Children


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The refugee crisis in Syria is getting some much needed educational aid from the place that welcomes all children, Sesame Street.

“Less than two percent of all humanitarian aid funding goes on education, even though half of the world’s refugees are kids,” David Miliband, head of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) told CBS News. Sesame Workshop, the company behind one of the longest-running educational series for kids, has partnered with the IRC to help.

Thanks to a $100 million dollar grant from the MacArthur Foundation Sesame Workshop is producing a new Sesame Street series in Arabic made just for children in refugee camps. The show will revolve around a muppet named Basma, who befriends Jad, a muppet who has just moved into her neighborhood. While Jad is never labeled as a refugee explicitly, there are hints like the fact that he has left behind all of his belongings.

Besides the traditional preschool curriculum that Sesame Street is built on, the series, which is titled Ahlan Simsim, meaning Welcome Sesame, will also focus on teaching kids how to deal with difficult feelings, like anger and frustration, that arise out of their situation. “We want every episode to identify an emotion, but then give really concrete actions so that children can learn what to do,” explained Scott Cameron, a veteran Sesame Street producer who is running this new show.

The series will air in 20 countries in the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf starting in February.

—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured photo: 60 Minutes via YouTube



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