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Syrian children make a new friend: a Sesame Street Muppet

A Muppet named Tonton recently brought a little piece of Sesame Street to a refugee settlement in Lebanon. The International Rescue Committee and Sesame Street are working together to help millions of refugee children around the world learn, grow and thrive. The partnership has just been selected as a finalist in the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change grant competition.

Update, Dec. 20, 2017: Sesame Workshop and International Rescue Committee awarded $100 million for early childhood education of Syrian refugees

  • Syrian children living in Bekka, Lebanon were excited to receive a surprise visit from Tonton, a playful Muppet from Hikayat Simsim, a version of Sesame Street produced in neighboring Jordan. Photo: Jacob Russell/IRC

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  • Together, the IRC and Sesame Workshop – the nonprofit, educational organization behind Sesame Street – will deliver transformative early learning to more than nine million displaced children in Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon. Photo: Jacob Russell/IRC

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  • Five-year-old Ibrahim and six-year-old Aziza play with Tonton. The siblings from Aleppo, Syria were just toddlers when the bombing started in their hometown. Their family fled to Lebanon in 2014. “I am happy I can go to school,” Aziza says. Photo: Jacob Russell/IRC

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  • IRC teacher Amina* reads the children a story starring Tonton. The IRC and Sesame Workshop are developing engaging educational content that can reach refugee children wherever their families have settled. Photo: Jacob Russell/IRC

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  • Syrian children at an IRC-run class in Bekka, Lebanon create letters out of yarn and glue–one of their favorite activities. The IRC supports more than 2,000 young Syrians in Lebanon improve their Arabic, English and math skills, and helps them build essential social and emotional skills. Photo: Jacob Russell/IRC

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