Asalaam alaikum, Zari. The “Sesame Street” universe has created its first Afghan Muppet, who is described as “a curious and eager six year-old girl.”
She’ll make her debut in Season 5 of “Baghch-e-Simsim” (“Sesame Garden”) – the local Afghani co-production of “Sesame Street.” Zari, whose name means “shimmering,” will be featured in new, locally produced segments that focus on curriculum topics like girls’ empowerment, national identity, physical health, and social and emotional well-being.
The newest Muppet will speak directly to viewers, interact with children in person, and interview a variety of Afghan professionals.
Planned segments include the following:
“Zari Exercises” – Starting with a stretch her mother taught her, Zari shows kids at home how important it is to stay healthy and active. “
Zari Says ‘Salaam'” – Zari explains the meaning of the greeting “asalaam alaikum” and encourages her friends to use it to show they are happy to see one another.
“Zari Interviews a Doctor” – During her checkup, Zari talks to her pediatrician and learns what it takes to become a doctor.
“‘Sesame Street’ has done more to educate and entertain than any other children’s program in Afghanistan,” said Saad Mohseni, Chairman of Moby Group. “We are especially delighted about the introduction of Zari to ‘Baghch-e-Simsim,’ which reflects Sesame’s commitment to the country and the show’s positive impact here.”
“We are thrilled to continue our work with the Moby Group to bring Zari, our first Afghan girl Muppet and powerful role model, to the children of Afghanistan through ‘Baghch-e-Simsim,'” added Sherrie Westin, executive vice president of Global Impact and Philanthropy, Sesame Workshop. “Debuting a confident, inquisitive, and sweet Afghan girl character is a perfect opportunity to engage both boys and girls with lessons supporting girls’ empowerment and diversity appreciation as we aim to help all children in Afghanistan grow smarter, stronger, and kinder.”
Moby Group owns and operates Tolo TV, Lemar TV and Kaboora Productions. “Baghch-e-Simsim” airs on Tolo and Lemar.
“Baghch-e-Simsim” has the highest awareness among children’s television shows in Afghanistan, at 86 percent, the Sesame company stated. Segments from other Sesame co-productions, adapted and dubbed into Dari and Pashto, will continue to introduce children to Muppet friends from series in Egypt, Bangladesh, Mexico, and Russia.
Watch Zari in action via the video above, in which she shares a scene with Elmo.
And here’s a photo of the new puppet with the First Lady of Afghanistan, Rula Ghani: