Sesame Street has introduced two new Rohingya refugee muppets as part of a humanitarian program supporting families affected by the crisis.
The new characters, twins Noor Yasmin and Aziz, will be featured in Rohingya-language programming that is available to families in Kutaupalong, the world’s largest refugee camp located in Bangladesh that is home to more than 1 million refugees. The 700,000 children there now watch Sesame Street in the camp using a battery-powered projector.
Noor and Aziz were developed as part of a $200 million commitment by Sesame Workshop to bring educational programming to the camp.
“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,” Sherrie Westin, president of social impact for Sesame Workshop told NBC News. “Many of these children have experienced unthinkable horrors.”
“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,” Westin continued. “For us to reach children in those critical early years, but especially children who’ve experienced trauma, we can play a significant role.”
In August 2017, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fled from Mynamar to escape the violence and “textbook ethnic cleansing.” Noor and Aziz were developed to help children address the trauma of their situation.
“For most Rohingya children, Noor and Aziz will be the very first characters in media who look and sound like them,” Westin said about the two new characters. “Rooted in the rich Rohingya culture and informed by extensive research and input from Rohingya families, Noor and Aziz will bring the transformative power of playful learning to families at a time when it’s needed more than ever before.”
The children of Rohingya will also be introduced to classic Sesame Street characters like Elmo.
When I’m not hanging out with my three-year-old and husband in Brooklyn, I’m busy writing stories for Mamas Uncut and managing PR + Marketing for Magnolia Bakery, based in New York City. On weekends, you can usually find me at a local park or playground pushing my daughter on the swings, “researching” the best almond croissants in Park Slope or launching into impromptu family dance parties at home, the sidewalk or, every once in awhile, a restaurant bathroom. I’m still trying to master the whole parenting thing, but I have learned that copious amounts of coffee, humor and humility are involved on a daily basis.
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