Sesame Street introduces its first Rohingya puppets

The two new characters will be used to educate refugee children in Bangladesh

AFTER more than a year in the making, Sesame Workshop – the nonprofit behind Sesame Street – has introduced the very first Rohingya muppets, six-year-old twins, Noor Yasmin and Aziz. 

The pair is part of a US$200 million (RM810 million) effort with the MacArthur Foundation and the Lego Foundation, to expand their efforts to bring education to the children of the vast Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh.

Sesame Workshop is very aware that early intervention is key when moulding young children, especially when it comes to reading, writing and simple mathematics. 

The president of social impact in the nonprofit, Sherrie Western shared that, “If we can help these children get off on the right start, where they can thrive, then they have so much more of a chance of succeeding later on.” 

Noor Yasmin and Aziz are six-year-old Rohingya twins. – YouTube pic

Facing large-scale persecution and violence in their own country, Myanmar, many Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh for safety, however, the camps are no place for these children to receive quality education, which unfortunately leaves most of them illiterate. 

The future is dull for these children, who are not only deprived of an education, but are also victims of trauma. 

Western adds, “Today, you have the neuroscience to show that if a child is exposed to traumatic experiences and prolonged stress that it literally debilitates brain development. 

“For us to reach children in those critical early years, but especially children who’ve experienced trauma, we can play a significant role.”

While play-based education at these camps have mostly been done through the Humanitarian Play Lab by humanitarian group BRAC, Sesame’s involvement will only further reinforce their efforts. 

Although the twin characters’ main role is to aid the children’s learning – both intellectually and emotionally – they will also serve as a great tool to bring awareness to the situation being suffered by this group of people.

In a time where we are so globalized, yet so individualized, this is a noteworthy effort by Sesame to also expose people to situations outside their comfort zones. 

In NBC Digital News’ story on these characters, Elmo explains the Rohingya refugee situation in Bangladesh.

Through this effort, Sesame Workshop has provided a gateway for both adults and children to be aware of ordeals that take place in other parts of the world.


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