If you have seen a giant puppet girl walking through your city this past year, there is a good chance it was Little Amal. A collaboration between Good Chance and Handspring Puppet Company, The Walk of Amal is a travelling festival in support of refugees that aims to spread awareness for the challenges and difficulties that refugee children face on the long journey to a better future.
The mission Little Amal’s walk is entirely in the spirit of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on Reduced Inequalities and Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions. Further, the way The Walk brings people all across Europe together for one cause embodies the Partnerships for the Goals, encouraging cooperation across borders. Not only did Little Amal visit the United Nations Office in Geneva, but she also represented three out of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals that the UN outlined for a better and more sustainable future.
“It is because the attention of the world is elsewhere right now that it is more important than ever to reignite the conversation about the refugee crisis and to change the narrative around it,” says Artistic Director of The Walk Amir Nizar Zuabi. “Yes, refugees need food and blankets, but they also need dignity and a voice. The purpose of The Walk is to highlight the potential of the refugee, not just their dire circumstances. Little Amal is 3.5 metres tall because we want the world to grow big enough to greet her. We want her to inspire us to think big and to act bigger.”
The towering puppet represents a 9-year-old Syrian refugee girl who has fled her country in search of her mother — a destiny shared by thousands of children in the war-torn Middle East.
Amal's journey started at the Syria-Turkey border, taking her 8,000 kilometers across Europe through eight different countries to her final destination in the UK.
What is fascinating about the project is not only its uniqueness, but also the way it attracts people all over the world, regardless of the language, background or age. Politically-charged protests or demonstrations are usually the domain of adults, but in the case of The Walk, even children are participating in the call for peace.
On top of attracting a wide audience, The Walk brings art, music, poetry, dance and theatre out onto the streets, telling the story of Little Amal for anyone who wants to listen.
“Little Amal’s walk is an act of freedom, just like art is. While she walks tall she teaches us about love and resilience and hovers above our shortcomings,” says Kinan Azmeh, an ambassador for The Walk, expressing the honour he feels to be partaking in this project.
As a politically-engaged student, I have joined many demonstrations in my lifetime to bring awareness to a variety of issues. When I joined The Walk in Oxford, I experienced more than just a normal demonstration. It was almost a makeshift exhibition — a music festival all over the main streets of Oxford — which simultaneously told the powerful story of Amal while giving hope for a better future for children like her.
It is safe to say that The Walk of Little Amal is the epitome of how art can raise awareness, bring different people together, and tell a story that needs to be told.