2021 - 2024 | Sesame Workshop, Mercy Corps, Save the Children | $11 million

Ahlan Simsim Iraq promotes inclusion, mutual respect, and understanding through multimedia content for Iraqi children, youth, and their families.

Project Snapshot 

  • Implementing Partners: Sesame Workshop (Prime Implementing Partner), Mercy Corps, and Save the Children
  • Project Duration: July 2021 - June 2024
  • Locations: All of Iraq; with a special focus on communities that have experienced recent displacement, including religious and ethnic minorities. Child, facilitator, and youth direct services will be focused in Anbar, Baghdad, Basrah, Kirkuk, Ninewa, and Salah-al-Din.
  • Budget: $11 million


As Iraq continues to recover from years of conflict, communities across Iraq are struggling to find a new sense of normalcy while both the physical and emotional wounds remain. The legacy of Iraq’s latest conflict with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) continues to hinder the country’s socio-economic development, leaving many children without a stable home, and others displaced. This is especially true for Iraq’s ethnic and religious minorities, curtailing access to quality early childhood education, thus inhibiting the development of fundamental skills that can help them grow into more resilient adults. Challenges experienced by children are further exacerbated for Iraqi youth, who represent over half of the population, and are unable to find jobs amidst an economy strained by war and corruption, leading to feelings of frustration and becoming prone to radicalization.

Ahlan Simsim Iraq Response

USAID is partnering with Sesame Workshop to implement Ahlan Simsim Iraq, an activity promoting inclusion, mutual respect, and understanding among communities affected by conflict and violence through multimedia educational content for Iraqi children, youth, and their families. Leveraging the trust and popularity of Sesame Workshop’s Arabic language educational show, Ahlan Simsim Iraq will develop and deliver culturally tailored and age-appropriate original educational media content for young children and services and tools for caregivers and teachers to promote equitable early learning. Ahlan Simsim Iraq will also provide training opportunities to Iraqi youth in audiovisual production and storytelling to increase meaningful participation in their communities and greater tolerance across different ethnic, religious, and sectarian groups.

Expected Results

  • Improving children’s foundational skills, including learner readiness and social and emotional learning, and engendering pride and appreciation for their identity and the diversity of Iraqi society.
  • Strengthening the effectiveness of teachers and facilitators in implementing evidence-based learner readiness and psychosocial support strategies that promote diversity and inclusion.
  • Increasing youth’s sense of belonging and agency through soft skills, storytelling, and media training, and opportunities to engage in meaningful and inclusive engagement within their communities and across religious, ethnic, and sectarian groups.
Ryan Donnell / Sesame Workshop
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