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Sunday, 17 January 2021

In Photos: 'Sesame Street' unveils Rohingya Muppets to help refugee children

According to UN figures, children make up more than half of about 730,000 Rohingya who arrived in Bangladesh in 2017 after a mass exodus from Myanmar and now live in camps in Cox's Bazar

Reuters , Friday 18 Dec 2020
Sesame Street in Rohingya
Tuktuki and Elmo sing and dance with Rohingya children in the Kutapalong camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. There are over 700,000 Rohingya child refugees in the camp, growing up without access to a formal education (Photo: Courtesy of Sesame Workshop)
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Children's TV show "Sesame Street" has unveiled its first Rohingya Muppets to help thousands of refugee children overcome trauma and tackle the pandemic's impact in the world's largest refugee settlement in Bangladesh.

Six-year-old twins, Noor and Aziz Yasmin, will feature alongside the show's famous characters like Elmo and Louie in educational videos in Rohingya language in the camps, according to Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organisation behind the show.

Sesame Street in Rohingya
Elmo and Tuktuki play with a group of Rohingya refugee children in the Kutapalong camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh (Photo: Courtesy of Sesame Workshop)

"Noor and Aziz are at the heart of our efforts to bring early education ... to children and caregivers ... impacted tremendously by the dual crises of displacement and the COVID-19 pandemic," Sherrie Westin, president of social impact at Sesame Workshop, said in a statement.

"For most Rohingya children, Noor and Aziz will be the very first characters in media who look and sound like them... (they)will bring the transformative power of playful learning to families at a time when it's needed more than ever before."

Sesame Street in Rohingya
The first Rohingya muppets, a pair of twins named Noor Yasmin and Aziz, are part of a $200 million effort to infuse an innovative form of education into the camp (Photo: Courtesy of Sesame Workshop)

According to UN figures, children make up more than half of about 730,000 Rohingya who arrived in Bangladesh in 2017 after a mass exodus from Myanmar and now live in camps in Cox's Bazar.

Sesame Street in Rohingya
Tuktuki reads to a Rohingya refugee family inside the Kutapalong camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh (Photo: Courtesy of Sesame Workshop)

Earlier this year aid agencies said the risks of child marriage and trafficking had increased in the camps as the pandemic led to scaling back camp activities and shutting youth services.

Sesame Workshop described Noor as a passionate and curious girl who loves to make up funny new rules for games, while her brother is a storyteller whose creativity can, at times, distract him from his daily tasks.

Sesame Street in Rohingya
Elmo plays with Rohingya children in the Kutapalong camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh (Photo: Courtesy of Sesame Workshop)

Sesame Street in Rohingya
Grover plays with a Rohingya child in the Kutapalong camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Sesame Workshop believes that if they invest in reaching young children in humanitarian settings, the children will have a chance to succeed and that can change the word (Photo: Courtesy of Sesame Workshop)

Bangladeshi non-government organisation BRAC, a partner of the programme, said the video segments would begin "soon".

"This will definitely help the Rohingya children stay connected to their roots," said BRAC spokeswoman Hasina Akhter. 

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