In Afghanistan, 70 to 100 people are killed or injured each month by the landmines that were scattered across the country during nearly three decades of war. Half of those victims are children.
By nature curious and adventurous, children mistake landmines for toys because they're often brightly colored. No Strings Attached has developed a new, innovative program that uses muppets to teach children in Afghanistan about landmines, how dangerous they are, and how to identify them.
"The Story of the Little Carpet Boy" was created by Kathy Mullen and Michael Frith, two of Jim Henson's original team. It uses characters from Afghan folklore to tell the story of Chuche Qhalin, the film's muppet hero, who loses an arm and both legs until he has learned his lesson and the children watching have learned what mines look like, where they might be buried, and how to avoid them.
The 40 minute film is being delivered around Afghanistan via mobile cinemas -- motorcycles fitted with a generator and projector screen on their sidecars that can reach far-flung mountain villages to deliver their lesson.
Muppets wont be entirely new to the children of Afghanistan. A specially adapted Afghan version of Sesame Street, called Koche Sesame was designed to assist teachers in educating children, foster awareness of other cultures, highlight opportunities for girls and women, and increase student interest in education and career opportunities.
Although Koche Sesame will also be shown on national and provincial television, few Afghan families have TV sets in their homes and many do not even have electricity. So most of the Koche Sesame episodes will be shown in classrooms, and have been made available for viewing at women’s centers, orphanages, children’s centers and in traveling vans. Other international co-productions of Sesame Street have been developed in Bangladesh, China, Palestine, Jordan and South Africa.