Sesame Street Introduces Basma, Jad and Ma’zouza in Solidarity with Young Syrian Refugees
A few days ago, the creators of the beloved American children’s show, Sesame Street, announced that they will be kicking off the latest version of the show, “Ahlan Simsim”; this is not the first time the show has an Arabic setting, but it is the first time it targets a refugee audience.
The show will make its debut in February of 2020, with two new jubilant characters, Basma and Jad, along with a roster of beloved staples such as Elmo, Grover, and the Cookie Monster.
Producers hope that the show will help millions of displaced Syrian refugee children deal with their traumas.
“We know how important it is for children to see their own lives and experiences reflected on-screen,” executive producer Scott Cameron said in a statement earlier this week.
The show introduces its audience to ‘big feelings’, and how to manage them through different coping mechanisms such as ‘counting to five’ and ‘belly breathing’.
In 2018, the producers of the show toured Lebanon and Jordan, holding a series of workshops bringing together play and art therapists, psychologists, writers, and early childhood specialists to work on ideas for the new show.
“Ahlan Simsim” is funded by a USD 100-million grant provided by the MacArthur Foundation to the Sesame Workshop and the non-profit organization The International Rescue Committee (IRC).
Basma is a purple, six-year-old character who loves to dance and almost always yells “Yalla” when it’s time for a new adventure. Jad, on the other hand, is a bright yellow muppet with a passion for painting; he has a paintbrush that used to belong to his grandfather, a token of where they used to live. The two friends are joined by Ma’zouza the baby goat.