Middle Eastern children and parents are responding with great enthusiasm to My Story, a SAT-7 ACADEMY storytelling segment shared on SAT-7 KIDS and social media. The stories not only give children joy and normality during COVID-19, but paired with supportive resources for parents, their subtle life lessons help transform families.
“Parents tell me that their kids cannot wait for the next story,” says Presenter Nada Kastoun Saab. “Others say, ‘Please don’t stop sharing the stories – we want a new one every day!’ They say they can see the impact of the messages on their kids, and parents are touched by the messages, too.” The lessons in these stories contain an underlying Biblical truth. Just as Jesus used parables to share some of life’s valuable lessons, telling relevant stories today with Biblical life lessons can have a profound impact on the listeners.
The format of My Story is simple: in a variety of peaceful outdoor settings, Saab reads to viewers from a colorful storybook about a fictional brother and sister. This offers children a much-needed escape from pandemic-related stress, explains SAT-7 Development Manager Nicoletta Michael. “Storytelling allows children to encounter the familiar and, for a few precious moments, to become wrapped up in a narrative,” she says. But as children follow the ups and downs of Karim and Nour, they also gain many longer-term cognitive and emotional benefits, absorbing messages that help shape their characters and equip them to handle real-life challenges.
Saab shares that one story has received particularly strong positive feedback. In the story, Nour is at the market when, separated from her mother, she is approached by a stranger who bribes her with a toy to go with him. Nour remembers her mother’s advice, “If you are not sure about something, don’t do it,” and she refuses, saving herself from danger. In the Middle East and North Africa, where many incidents of kidnapping are reported each year, this message is potentially lifesaving. Other stories help children improve their social skills and advocate for themselves.
This support for children and parents is urgently needed in the Middle East and North Africa. In many parts of the region, the stress of the pandemic within families is compounded by pre-existing economic struggles and political upheaval. Saab, who is a psychologist and family counselor, notes, “[People] are struggling. They want to parent their kids in the best way they can, but it is difficult to manage their own needs and their children’s needs.” In the worst cases, these stresses can contribute to abuse; like other regions, the Middle East has seen a surge in domestic violence since the advent of the pandemic.
The feedback from parents, who often watch social media content with their children, shows that My Story is helping whole families. Children are asking their parents questions based on the stories, and parents are also reflecting on the messages, which may help them strengthen family relationships in the years to come.
If you want to help brighten the days of children across the Middle East and North Africa, teaching valuable lessons in a fun way, you can make a one-time donation, or consider a monthly gift to assure programs like My Story continue to reach people with Biblical truth.