The creators of Sesame Street have collaborated with the International Rescue Committee for a new show geared towards Syrian refugee children.
Ahlan Simsim meaning ‘Welcome Sesame’ won’t focus on teaching numbers and letters like the U.S. based original but will place emphasis on emotions like fear, anger, loneliness, and caring.
“We want every episode to identify an emotion, but then give really concrete actions so that children can learn what to do,” says Scott Cameron, the longtime Sesame producer running Ahlan Simsim.
For example, one of the show’s main characters, a girl Muppet named Basma, decides to make a toy drum to replace the one her best friend Jad had to leave behind when he left his old home.
When the MacArthur Foundation offered a $100 million grant to any organisation that could “solve a big global problem”, the IRC and Sesame Workshop saw an opportunity. And their joint effort won them the grant.
The show will air in 20 countries in the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf starting in February.