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Young girl smiles at a cow puppet
Learning through play

Photo story: The puppet show teaching children in Yemen how to protect themselves from COVID-19

Photo: Mahmoud Fadhel/IRC

Learning through play can bring smiles to children living in the world’s toughest places.

In Yemen, the International Rescue Committee is using puppets to teach children how to protect themselves from COVID-19, cholera and other diseases. Children in Al-Manshar camp for internally displaced people in southern Yemen interact with puppet cows, foxes and other friendly animals as they learn how to wash their hands and avoid crowded places. 

Photos by Mahmoud Fadhel

Girl sits cross legged in a room full of children, smiling at the cow puppet on the arm of an IRC volunteer.

“How do you protect yourself from the coronavirus and other diseases?” The puppets ask the children practical and engaging questions about how to stay safe from diseases such as COVID-19.

Young girl smiles at a fox puppet

Najeeba, pictured above, like the other children living in the camp, was forced to flee her home with her family when the conflict broke out. Now Najeeba and her family live Al-Manshar camp in Al Dhale’e governorate.

A yellow screen covers the puppeteers in between tents in the middle of the camp as the fox and cow puppet interact with each other.

The makeshift puppet theatre is set up among the tents in Al-Manshar camp, with a troupe of local IRC community health volunteers putting on the show. 

Young girl stares at the cow puppet

“I like the puppet theatre,” says six-year-old Ashwaq, pictured above, “They taught me how to wash my hands with water and soap so I can protect myself from diseases."

Five-year-old Yasser laughs at the fox puppet

Five-year-old Yasser laughs at the fox puppet, he was displaced from his home in Al-Hodeidah before living in Al-Dhale’e camp and then Al-Manshar. 

A fox and cow puppet interact with each other

The puppet show is interactive, with the puppets asking the children to repeat back what they have learnt about keeping themselves safe from diseases.

A young girl smiles and reaches out to the cow puppet.

The IRC in Yemen

The risk of coronavirus and other disease is just one of the multiple crises Yemenis face. After nearly seven years of war, the country is also grappling with malnutrition, poverty and violence.

The International Rescue Committee provides lifesaving emergency aid, clean water, education, women’s protection and medical care to millions of people in Yemen affected by violent conflict and a growing health crisis. Find out more about our work. 

Our work in Yemen is supported by the European Union. The International Rescue Committee partners with the European Union to provide life-saving support to people caught in conflict and disasters around the world. Our work funded by the EU through the Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (ECHO) enables people to survive, recover and rebuild their lives.