Kabul’s Hottest New Address: Sesame Street

How the beloved children’s show is helping spread a message of peace in a war-torn land.

'Sesame Street' characters act with Afghan girls before the inauguration of a show at French Culture Center in Kabul. (Photo: Reuters Pictures)
Exec. Prod. of Franchises & Series. He previously reported for HuffPost, L.A. Daily Journal, and Biloxi Sun-Herald.

Grover, Elmo, Bert and the rest of the Sesame Street gang are headed halfway around the world, and their new destination might not be the first place that comes to mind when you picture the classic kids' show: Kabul.

In a country where two-thirds of school-aged kids still don't make it to a classroom, the show's makers and government officials are hoping that the colorful Muppets will help spread important educational messages and prepare them for eventual schooling.

Baghch-e-Simsim, which premieres on Thursday, will be broadcast in two major local language, Dari and Pashto. Scenes of everyday Afghan life are intercut with footage featuring the familiar American Muppet characters. 

Bagch-e-Simsim is just the latest in a long line of locally produced Sesame Street adaptations around the world. Earlier this year, Elmo and Co. began broadcasting in Nigeria at their new home on Sesame Square, and other versions are shown in Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kosovo, Mexico, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Palestine, South Africa and Russia.

Local coproductions have often been platforms for educating younger audiences about difficult or taboo topics, such as HIV/AIDS in South Africa and Nigeria, or the Mideast peace process in Israel and Palestine. 

Want a backstage look at what goes into mounting one of these international coproductions? Check out the amazing documentary The World According To Sesame Street, which was produced by TakePart's parent company, Participant Media. 

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