Little Amal Makes it to New York City
By: Arab America Contributing Writer / Carrie Stewart
Little Amal is a giant (11 feet tall) puppet that is walking across cities all over the world including Europe and America in order to remind people of children who have fled Syria during the country’s very long civil war. She has traveled 5,000 miles across Turkey and Europe and the UK. She recently arrived in New York City and is walking across several boroughs. Amal is Arabic for “hope.”
Little Amal was created by the British production companies “The Walk Productions and Good Chance in collaboration with the South African Handspring Puppet Company.” The Little Amal character first appeared in The Jungle, an award-winning 2015 play created by Good Chance in the Theatre of Hope dome.
Little Amal was created for “The Walk” – a traveling arts festival organized by the British production companies The Walk Productions and Good Chance in collaboration with the South African Handspring Puppet Company. The project involved celebrated artists, major cultural institutions, community groups, and humanitarian organizations.
Little Amal started her walk across Europe in order to flee from war, find her mother, and she hopes to go to school as well. The hope is that Little Amal brings people together, highlights the potential of a refugee, and shares the message that we should not forget about child refugees.
In most places the public reaction to Little Amal was joyful, however, unfortunately in some areas, there were racist and violent reactions. Protesters threw rocks and disrupted an event in Larissa, Greece. These rocks even hit children who had made their own puppets and brought them to see Little Amal.
The good thing, however, is that people have reported the experience as overall being positive and uplifting. Many people have had a strong emotional response to the puppet. For example, one woman said, “it kind of embodies a whole dimension of our human family that is traveling lost, at risk, and in danger. And yet still with the kind of innocence that you would expect of a young child. So I think there was a strong emotional presence and a pull that somehow, in her gestures particularly, was expressed. I think that touched everybody.”
Little Amal walked through the streets of Brooklyn on Monday, 9/19. People were kind and uplifted, even following her through the streets. The whole city is invited to take part in her 17-day traveling festival of art and hope. She will be traveling through all five boroughs, meeting artists, civic leaders, community groups, and young New Yorkers of all backgrounds. According to the New York Times, she will “pick flowers at a community garden in Queens, walk across the High Bridge in the Bronx, ride the Staten Island Ferry, dance in the streets of Washington Heights and find herself amid a Syrian wedding procession in Bay Ridge.”
If you are in town, try to check her out!
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