Sesame Street


Since 1993, the number of children attending preschool institutions in Armenia had frightfully declined due to cuts in government funding and harsh conditions in pre-school institutions such as lack of heating and food. Numerous schools shut down leaving preschool age children on the streets without necessary structure needed for proper development

In an effort to address the severe educational void plaguing the country’s preschool educational system, Ani & Narod Memorial Foundation (ANMF) decided to use the powerful medium of television to help fill the gap in the social and educational development of Armenia’s children. The evident solution was to launch a cutting edge children’s educational program that would enhance their intellectual, emotional, social, and physical development that they would otherwise gain in school. It was with this mission in mind that Ani & Narod Memorial Foundation launched Open Sesame® Armenia, the Children’s Television Workshop’s popular preschool children’s magazine format series developed especially for modification and airing in foreign countries.

© CTW 2000


In cooperation with Children’s Television Workshop (CTW), and its country partner UNICEF Armenia, ANMF produced Open Sesame® Armenia, a 52 episode program series.

With Open Sesame® Armenia, ANMF aimed to:

  • Provide a viable and cost-effective solution to Armenia’s textbook and teacher shortage and the many other formidable problems besieging the country’s educational system
  • Support early childhood education and encourage a new enthusiasm for learning amongst children
  • Encourage the physical, emotional, and intellectual development of pre-school age children by providing them with valuable information about their bodies and personal health, the importance of social cooperation, appreciating other cultures, and protecting the environment
  • Foster parent/child interaction and help children and adults transcend their difficult everyday lives and see the world from a different, positive perspective

Project Leadership

Ani & Narod Memorial Foundation, Inc, assembled a team of highly qualified professionals to administer the project and carry out Open Sesame® Armenia production operations. This included a Project Technical Director, professional translator, and a group of skilled actors who, originally from Armenia, now resided in Los Angeles. The project was led by Project Manager Anahid Shahrik.


  • In May 1996, ANMF acquired the licensing rights from Children’s Television Workshop to dub into Armenian and air the Open Sesame® Armenia episode series for an 18 month lease term.
  • In late 1996, ANMF met with the Head of UNICEF Armenia office in Geneva to solidify partnership and donor support on the launch of Open Sesame® Armenia. As a project partner, UNICEF Armenia confirmed commitment to air the program on Armenian State Television and to premiere Open Sesame® Armenia on UNICEF’s International Children’s Day of Broadcasting, managing all delivery logistics in Armenia, and coordinated all in-country promotional developments relating to the program premiere. As a donor, UNICEF contributed to a grant to assist in financing a portion of the production to help realize the full potential of the program series.
  • ANMF also received program funding from the Armenian General Benevolent Union and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to fund a portion of the production costs.
  • ANMF hired a professional production team residing in both New York and Los Angeles. Professional translator Arevig Caprielian translated each episode into eastern Armenian. Hacop Chorliyan, a producer based in Glendale, CA, led a team of talented actors to dub the series into Armenian.
  • Open Sesame® Armenia aired for the first time in Armenia as part of UNICEF’s International Children’s Day of Broadcasting (ICDB) on Sunday, December 15, 1996. ICDB was created as a joint initiative of the International Council of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and UNICEF. Two episodes of Open Sesame® Armenia were broadcasted along with other children’s programs around the world to address and raise awareness of children’s needs and concerns.
  • ANMF worked alongside UNICEF Armenia and Children’s Television Workshop to produce in-country promotional billboard advertising and a six month communication campaign.
  • ANMF launched its debut of Open Sesame® Armenia on Sunday, April 20, 1997 on Armenian State Television.
  • In late 1997, ANMF approached the Open Society Institute for funding opportunities and secured a grant to fund thirteen episodes of the program series.
  • The Lincy Foundation contributed a grant toward partial production costs of the program series and Coca Cola Armenia made a corporate donation to cover the costs of advertisement.
  • In an effort to leverage the investment made by ANMF and UNICEF Armenia in the development and execution of Open Sesame® Armenia and to continue to provide high quality educational programming for children ages 3-7 in Armenia, ANMF negotiated a broadcast license agreement to re-broadcast the Open Sesame® Armenia series for an 18 month term.
  • UNICEF Armenia renewed its in-country partnership with ANMF by making a program related grant.


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