Let’s get started! – television for Syrian refugee children


Children’s television for traumatised refugee children from Syria – a Deutsche Welle Akademie project, funded by the Federal Foreign Office, has had great success with this idea.

Yallah Nehna is going down well – here in a refugee camp in Turkey
Yallah Nehna is going down well – here in a refugee camp in Turkey© Brigitta Schülke/DW-Akademie

“What happens if you cover a full glass of water with a piece of card and turn it upside down? What shape is a drop of water?” asks the presenter of the children’s TV show “Yalla Nehna” at the start of the programme. The show is presented in Arabic, in German it’s title means “Let’s get started!” It is no coincidence that the show makes you think of the German children’s show “Sendung mit der Maus” – they share the aim of teaching children about the world of science and engineering through fun and play.

A window to normality

A concept designed as fun and entertainment for inquisitive children in our society is now offering Syrian children in refugee camps in Turkey or in host communities in Lebanon a window to normality, something which they have not experienced since the beginning of the war in Syria in 2011. For half an hour, twice a week, Yallah Nehna wants to give these traumatised children the chance to forget war and the harsh circumstances of their lives as refugees. The programme offers them a “safe space” and tackles a variety of topics appropriate for children whilst also addressing issues relevant to everyday life as a refugee.

Expanding the programme

Reports on the refugee children’s everyday life are a key part of the programme.
Reports on the refugee children’s everyday life are a key part of the programme.© Olaf Klein/DW-Akademie

The great success of the children’s programme, which was awarded a special prize at Europe’s most prestigious children’s film festival, the Prix Jeunesse, showed that developing media can bring very tangible results for the civilian population affected, said Tilman Rascher, head of the Middle East section at the Deutsche Welle Akademie. The programme clearly boosted the children’s self‑confidence and greatly helped them gain new knowledge, he added.

The Deutsche Welle Akademie team is currently working on expanding the concept of the programme. The Federal Foreign Office is supporting this plan, with the aim of broadcasting the show five days a week. With the extended programme the Deutsche Welle Akademie wants to contribute to showing Syrian refugee children a world away from war and violence, to give them a way forward and thus help to avoid a generation being lost to this war.

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