Mercy Corps and Sesame Workshop have formed a partnership to bring engaging, educational programming to Haiti’s children. Sesame Workshop has dubbed one DVD featuring two Sesame Home Videos into Creole, and produced three short original films shot in Haiti, specific to the country’s post-earthquake challenges.
The Sesame Street films provide entertainment and learning opportunities for children, and stress the importance of physical activity, healthy eating, teamwork, and play. Cinderelmo, starring Keri Russell, Kathy Najimy, and Oliver Platt, follows the trials and tribulations of Elmo as he escapes from his evil stepmother and seeks true love with a princess. Happy Healthy Monsters features Wyclef Jean, India Arie, other celebrities, and a host of Muppets promoting healthy, active lifestyles.
Accompanying the DVD releases are three live-action films created by Sesame Workshop and the filmmaker Linda Costigan after the earthquake. The films, built around original footage shot in Haiti in partnership with a local production team, promote cooperation, self-esteem, creativity, and hope. Helping Hands features children helping each other and adults with activities such as preparing food and pitching a tent; I Am Haiti reinforces the message that children will be key to Haiti’s recovery; and Recycled Car uses a metaphor of two young boys building a toy car to suggest that Haitians will build their country anew.
This Sesame Street project in Haiti is made possible through generous grants from Connie and Bob Lurie and Motorola Foundation to Sesame Workshop.
Mercy Corps will distribute 1,000 DVDs of the films throughout Haiti, and may distribute up to 5,000 additional copies in the coming months. The DVDs will be sent to schools, orphanages, hospitals, health clinics, and youth centers. The Sesame Street episodes are also being screened at Cinema Under the Stars (Sinema Anba Zetwal), a Mercy Corps-supported tour of interactive open-air events that use film, music, and skits to educate and entertain tens of thousands of Haitians in earthquake-affected areas.
The films will be integrated into Mercy Corps’ Comfort for Kids program, which trains parents and other caregivers to help children emotionally recover from the earthquake.
Comfort for Kids is part of Mercy Corps’ multi-faceted response to the earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12. The organization has delivered emergency food supplies, enabled nearly 6,400 Haitians to earn much-needed income, and created drainage ditches, clean water systems, and latrines. Mercy Corps is also providing income opportunities for people in Haiti’s Central Plateau, where hundreds of thousands fled after the earthquake.