Aid door shut on Sim Sim
LAHORE, June 5: The Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop (RPTW) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on Tuesday confirmed that they will be ending their partnership over ‘Sim Sim Hamara’, a Pakistan Television Children Project, on September 30, well ahead of the scheduled project ending date.
The two partners emphasise the somewhat abrupt termination was based on a mutual agreement, following reports in the media which had cast some serious aspersions about the way in which the project had been conducted.
The media reports which were preceded by rumours about a forced, premature closure of ‘Sim Sim Hamara’ had said the USAID was not too happy over the way the RPTW had gone about spending the resources allocated for Sim Sim, originally conceived as a four-year project aimed at educating children by mixing nuggets of useful information with entertainment.The Sesame Workshop, New York was the other RPTW collaborator for ‘Sim Sim’, for which the USAID had pledged $10 million as an obligated amount, with a projected final funding of $20 million. The term ‘obligated’ denoted an amount the donor was committed to spending as the first installment and as has turned out, that is the final sum the USAID is going to end up putting into the much-fancied and so very promising ‘Sim Sim’. Any subsequent financing has been ‘suspended’ due to ‘non-availability’ of funds.
A US Consulate spokesperson told Dawn by telephone: “The USAID participation in the Sim Sim Hamra programme is concluding by Sept 30 by mutual agreement between the USAID and Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop.”
Faizan Peerzada of the RPTW reconfirmed the discontinuation of the project under the present arrangement. “Beyond the spending of the $10 million obligatory amount, the additional funding was subject to availability of resources with the USAID,” he said while he expressed a resolve to continue with the ‘Sim Sim Hamara’ series for television. “The RPTW is the sole and proud owner of Sim Sim Hamra programme. The generous funding by the USAID helped us develop the infrastructure for children education media through this programme.”
The RPTW, according to Mr Faizan Peerzada, plans to tap other possible resources, such as the options which may be available in the corporate sector, to keep the ‘Sim Sim’ show running.
Mr Peerzada also tried to dispel the impression that ‘Sim Sim…’ was a non-starter. “Of the 26 episodes scheduled to run in the first season, some 24 have already been broadcast by the PTV Home,” he said. “The remaining two would be aired in the coming weeks. The season 2 would start in the last week of June and another 26 episodes would be televised in the second season too, in accordance with the set schedule.”