Coming Together to Save a Generation of Displaced Children

Sherrie Westin, EVP Global Impact and Philanthropy, Sesame Workshop

Sesame Street and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) are partnering to provide education and nurturing care to refugee children who have experienced significant adversities — children who otherwise will be left behind, unable to secure a better future for themselves. This is an idea and team that came together for one simple reason: necessity.

You may think of Sesame Street as an American television show. But we go well beyond your TV — and well beyond America’s borders. We work in countries where our mission, to help kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder, is in critical need — places like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Jordan, and Egypt. We do so with content and curriculum that is uniquely designed to help improve the lives of the youngest learners in those countries. Through the power of our engaging Muppets — lovable, trusted characters that see the world through the eyes of children — we connect with children on their terms.

For more than 85 years, the IRC has been responding to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helping people whose lives and livelihoods have been shattered by conflict to survive, recover, and gain control of their future. Education has been an essential component of the IRC’s response for decades, ensuring that children living in conflict and crisis have access to safe, quality learning opportunities. In 2016 alone, the IRC provided schooling and educational opportunities to more than 1.5 million children, including those children displaced by the Syrian crisis and others fleeing persecution.

Our organizations have so much in common. We have found you need to reach not just the child, but you must address the family’s entire “circle of care” — education, health, economic development, violence prevention, and good governance — to have a meaningful, long-lasting impact.

We are preparing for a large-scale intervention that combines our respective strengths. There’s much work to do to ensure that an entire generation of refugee children have a chance at the future they deserve. But we’ll get there — together.

This post was first published on the MacArthur Foundation website.

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