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Forget the Oscars. One of the sites where the battle for on-screen representation matters most may be in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh — the world’s largest refugee camp.

Two new inhabitants are set to take up residence there in the new year: six-year-old Rohingya Muslim twins Noor and Aziz. The difference between them and the one million-plus Rohingya who have fled ethnic violence in neighboring Myanmar? Noor and Aziz are muppets, developed by the non-profit “Sesame Street” TV show creator Sesame Workshop.

The organization, which has a presence in over 150 countries, created the new characters to help children in Cox’s Bazar build key early childhood skills through relatable educational content, which will feature them speaking in Rohingya.

She explained that Rohingya children have very little content available to them at all, and have never seen themselves depicted in media. “For most, this will be the first time that they can truly identify with the characters they’re seeing in storybooks and on screen.”

Sesame tested everything from the girl twin Noor and her brother Aziz’s haircuts to their slip-on sandals for how well each element resonated with local kids, a process that took about a year from conception to completion. The two muppets were conceived as twins so that they could be of opposite sexes but still play together in a culturally appropriate manner, all while modeling “very clear gender equity” in a culture where girls tend to take on more caregiving and household work.

Source: Variety