Sesame Workshop Services Reached One Million Children in the Middle East

The childhood development initiative Ahlan Simsim has now reached one million children with direct services across Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.

“The IRC-Sesame Workshop Ahlan Simsim program is the largest early childhood development program in a humanitarian setting,” said David Miliband, President and CEO of the IRC.

“The milestone of the millionth child reached through direct services, alongside the 23 million children through the Ahlan Simsim show, is a moment of pride, but also a time to recommit to the goal of helping all children affected by war survive, recover and gain control of their futures,” added Miliband. “The evidence-based programing in the Middle East shows what can be done through determined partnership and innovative programing. This is real action to prevent a lost generation of children in the Middle East.”

Ahlan Simsim was originally launched in 2018 through a partnership between Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee.

Sesame Workshop is the non-profit organization behind the educational entertainment series, Sesame Street. Sesame Workshop currently serves vulnerable children through a wide range of media, formal education, and social impact programs in more than 150 countries worldwide.

The IRC Rescue Committee is a global non-profit organization that provides humanitarian aid to communities experiencing conflict and disaster. The organization’s services include emergency response, health care initiatives, post-conflict development projects, education programs, and more. The IRC currently operates in more than forty countries across the globe.

The jointly-operated Ahlan Simsim program combines the mass media and education experience of Sesame Workshop with the technical expertise of the IRC to support the development of at-risk children across the Middle East.

The program brings early learning to children and communities affected by displacement through its locally-produced version of Sesame Street and direct humanitarian services.

“At a time when more children than ever before are affected by conflict and displacement, Ahlan Simsim is setting a new standard for effective, scalable early childhood development programs in crisis settings,” said Sherrie Westin, President of Sesame Workshop. “More than half of displaced Syrian children in Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq are watching Ahlan Simsim, and today’s milestone of one million reached by direct services speaks to Ahlan Simsim’s unique ability to reach children at scale with playful learning and nurturing care.”

Ahlan Simsim provides both critical and long-term humanitarian aid through partnerships with local organizations and Ministries of Health, Education and Social Development.

NYU’s Global TIES for Children serves as the independent research partner for Ahlan Simsim. As the organization’s independent research partner, Global TIES for Children conducts evaluations on Ahlan Simsim’s impact on children and families to build scientific evidence on how to support young children’s development in humanitarian settings.

The Ahlan Simsim program is designed as a scalable approach to change the way the humanitarian system responds to the needs of young children affected by conflict and crisis around the world. Ahlan Simsim is made possible through support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation with additional support from the LEGO Foundation.

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