Adela Dwyer Award presented to puppeteers



Sarah McAssey

On Wednesday, Oct. 26, No Strings International was presented with the Adela Dwyer St. Thomas of Villanova Peace Award. 

No Strings International is a not-for-profit organization that produces films using puppets to raise awareness for children in third world countries. The organization uses puppetry to create film projects to aid some of the most vulnerable children globally by bolstering life-saving skills and aiding them in overcoming the trauma they have experienced due to war and natural disasters. 

NSI was created by members of Jim Henson’s Muppet Show staff. Along with films, workshops are offered that train local teachers and outreach workers in life-saving education to use the puppets to connect with the children. The organization produces films held to an ardent broadcast standard, featuring some of the best puppeteers in the world.

“There is seldom time for us to think of what the impact our work is because as soon as we start it is full speed ahead,” Heather Asch, Executive Director of NSI, said. “On behalf of our dedicated and talented production team we are truly grateful and humbled that others recognize the importance and impact these works of art do in this world when in the loving hands of our outreach team. 

We are all very passionate about our art and driven to do our best for the children and communities in our world. Our hope is to continue and expand the foundation for greater peace and justice. Creating hope, healing and ending the causes of suffering.”

Films have been directed in two countries. “The Shadows & The Shoes,” shot in September of 2014, was filmed in Syria and addresses trauma healing, solidarity and peace-building issues for children affected by crisis. Two new films are currently in development in South Sudan, with one addressing malaria and the other acute watery diarrhea and cholera due to the use of water and lack of sanitation and hygiene.

Michael McCarthy, a senior, had the opportunity to watch an NSI film in Brooklyn this past summer. McCarthy found out about the organization in a theology course taught by Dr. Suzanne Toton.

“Having a background in teaching and helping children overcome traumatic experiences, No Strings’ mission was something that I was very passionate about myself,” McCarthy said. “Getting to see the whole process first hand was amazing,” McCarthy said. “Everyone was phenomenally talented and motivated to truly make a difference. The trip was mostly to get a handle on how they do their work and discuss ideas on how to build a partnership between No Strings and Villanova in the near future.”

The organization partners with Catholic Relief Service (CRS), the International Organixation for Migration (IOM), Save the Children, Oxfam, Action Contre la Faim (ACF), Unicef, Trocaire and Plan International.

“NSI has responded with remarkable creativity and care to the needs of children who have experienced conflict and trauma around the globe,” said Kathryn Getek Soltis, S.T.L., Ph.D., Director of the Center for Peace and Justice Education. “In doing so, they remind us that vulnerable children need not only protection, but also the opportunity to share their own voices. Indeed, there can be no peace or healing without these voices.”