The effect of the global refugee crisis is hard to overstate. It has displaced over 30 million children. They’ve lost homes and loved ones, seen violence, and endured the kind of trauma that puts them at risk for lifelong impairments. Millions have no access to quality early learning, yet less than 3% of all humanitarian aid goes to education, and only a tiny fraction of that to early childhood. With such high stakes, the challenge is clear. How the world meets it will have ripple effects on society for decades. But in the face of difficulty and despair, we also see hope.
Children are remarkably resilient. At Sesame Workshop, we know from decades of tackling some of the toughest challenges facing children that if we reach them early, we can help change their trajectories. But we also know we can’t do it alone—in this case, we needed partners who understand the plight of refugees as well as we understand the needs of young children. So, with historic support from the MacArthur Foundation and the LEGO Foundation, we’ve teamed up with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), BRAC, and others to bring hope and opportunity to a generation of refugee children.
With the IRC, we’re rolling out the largest early childhood intervention in the history of humanitarian response -- bringing early learning and nurturing care to displaced children and those in host communities across Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Through home visits and learning centers, and a new local version of Sesame Street, we’ll give millions of children the resources to build resilience and overcome traumatic experiences.
In Bangladesh, we’re working with BRAC, the largest international development NGO, to bring play-based learning to hundreds of thousands of children in and around the massive refugee settlement at Cox’s Bazar. We’ll develop new video content and other materials meaningful for both Rohingya children and those in host communities, and distribute them wherever children are. Since many have no access to TV or mobile phones, we’ll bring Sesame directly to children and families through community viewings and create new and complementary content for BRAC’s LEGO Foundation-funded Humanitarian Play Labs.
By reaching vulnerable children with proven Sesame content through established methods, we can help them reach their full potential. Study after study shows that equipping vulnerable children with language, reading, math, and socio-emotional skills strengthens their resilience and mitigates the effects of traumatic experiences. Just as importantly, these lessons and skills can set children on a path to thrive into adulthood.
This historic initiative will reach more than two million children in the Syrian response region and Bangladesh with early education, nurturing care, and playful learning—with millions more reached through mass media. It’s an all-out push on a massive scale. Because an investment in these children is an investment in a more peaceful and stable world for everyone.
Our partners at NYU Global TIES Center are conducting a multi-year, evidence-based research and evaluation program to measure the success of our approach. It will be shared with the entire humanitarian community—because real success is much bigger than any one region. We intend for this program to become a scalable model that can be replicated: one that will transform humanitarian response wherever children and families are in conflict or crisis.
When you support Sesame Workshop, you’re making a positive difference in the lives of children around the world. Join us!