The children’s TV show Sesame Street has created new Rohingya muppets, six-year-old twins named Noor and Aziz Yasmin, as part of its new early education program for refugee children in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh.
Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organisation behind the show aims to help Rohingya children overcome trauma and tackle the impact of coronavirus in the world’s largest refugee settlement.
The twins will feature alongside the show’s famous characters such as Elmo and Louie in educational videos in Rohingya language in the camps, according to 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,” said Sherrie Westin, the president of social impact at Sesame Workshop.
“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 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.
Brac, a Bangladeshi NGO and partner of the programme, said the video segments would begin soon. “This will definitely help the Rohingya children stay connected to their roots,” said a Brac spokeswoman, Hasina Akhter.
This news comes as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect small underserved communities around the world.
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, most of whom have suffered extremely traumatic events.
The virus has cancelled most educational in-person services, something the Sesame Workshop hopes the new muppets and video programs will help.
Earlier this year aid agencies said the risks of child marriage and trafficking had increased in the camps as camp activities were scaled back and youth services shut amid the pandemic. (Source: The Guardian)