“Sesame Street” coming to Pakistan

LONDON: The twins Peerzada brothers Faizan and Saadan from Lahore are planning to produce their own version of the world’s most-watched children’s programme-the Sesame Street-with funding from the US government, says a report in “The Times”.

With funding from the US Government, they aim to help to educate Pakistan’s children. Faizan told the daily: “In the heart of Pakistan the schools are very dark, not very exciting. We go in with this light that encourages them, makes them smile.”

Their funding is part of a $20 million, USAid-funded Pakistani Children Television Project, in which 78 Urdu-language TV and radio episodes are due to be made and a live show will tour with 600 performances.

It is thought that two of the American characters will make regular appearances along with seven new Pakistani characters.

Another brother, Imraan, who will help to write the script, said that a strong female lead “will represent what little girls have to go through in this gender-biased society”.

The shows are performed in areas without television or radio. Half of Pakistan’s population is illiterate and three in ten primary-aged children do not go to school. But the shows are not about only reading, writing and arithmetic, they also teach Islamic principles.

“The meaning of jihad (struggle) can be told with lots of colours and a little bird and a flower. No one needs to be a villain. This is what we try to put into the minds of children: the biggest jihad begins when you look into your own self,” they said.

The paper also noted that the puppeteers, who have run the Rafi Peer Puppet Workshop in Lahore for 34 years, producing educational shows for children, have three times been the victim of terrorist bombs, one of which injured nine people in an audience at an international festival they organised in 1992. Another destroyed their restaurant and, seven months ago, a third blew out the windows of their building.

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