Little Amal Walks Across Europe and into London

Little Amal the giant 3.5metre puppet of a 9 year old Syrian girl has arrived in London. She has been travelling across Europe on her journey to raise awareness of refugees. Starting in Turkey she crossed into Greece, Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium before landing in the UK at Folkestone.

Everywhere she has been Little Amal has been met with crowds. Mostly positive with the exception of a worrying exception in Greece. People have lined the streets and in London it was no different. Watching her on her journey through London along the South Bank this was clearly a popular visitor.

Little Amal gets ready for her walk in London
Little Amal about to start her walk along the South Bank

Little Amal in London

Made by the Handspring Puppet Company, Little Amal is operated by three people. One stands on stilts and operates the body, two other operators work the arms. As Amal moves the puppeteers move in sync with each other. Taking the role of a curious visitor she explores the area around her. Constantly curious and childlike, she takes joy in the small wonders along her journey. A glance at the Thames, a hug of a tree, the strangeness of a cleaning cart. Her walk, although short from the Globe to the Southbank Centre was full of wonder.

Little Amal looks over the crowd at Londons Globe Theatre
Amal outside the Globe Theatre where she was greeted by a Shakespearean Troupe of Actors

Her journey so far has taken many months. Starting in Gaziantep near the Syrian border she will eventually end up in Manchester. This has been a journey of hope and one that in turn helps to reframe narratives around refugees. Many of whom are displaced in camps near the Syrian border in Turkey. Her message to the people of Europe is “don’t forget about us”. Little Amal’s route to London so far has gone some way to keeping that message alive.

Warhorse greets Little Amal on the South Bank in London
Along the walk on the South Bank, Little Amal was greeted by Warhorse which has been showing at the National Theatre. The Animatronic Warhorse was also created by the Handspring Puppet Company

Hope

As Little Amal makes her journey she does so representing so many other children like her. The crisis in Syria caused huge displacement and that has resulted in many Little Amals. As Amal walks she does so for many reasons, to find her mother, to go to school, to start a new life! Her name in Arabic even means “Hope”.

Little Amal hugs a young boy on her walk in London
Little Amal greets a young boy on the South Bank

β€œIt 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 Amir Nazir Zuabi the Artistic Director. “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 Walk with Little Amal started on 27 July 2021 in Gaziantep, Turkey she arrived on the South Bank in London on 23 October 2021. She is due to complete her journey in Manchester on 3 November 2021. You can find out a lot more about Amal’s journey here.

Amal walks past the National Theatre
The Warhorse joined Little Amal on her walk. It was created by the same puppet company
Warhorse meets Little Amal
Little Amal looks out over the Thames
Outside the Southbank Centre
Behind the scenes just about to make the walk along the South Bank.

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