Little Amal: Syrian refugee puppet leads march to US Capitol
Little Amal, the 12-foot Syrian refugee puppet, made stops in Washington, DC this week as part of a global tour to promote human rights and to raise awareness of refugees.
On Tuesday afternoon, hundreds gathered at Freedom Plaza downtown, clapping and dancing around Amal, whose Arabic name was chosen to symbolise hope, as music was played for the occasion.
The group then marched together toward the Capitol, as a local marching band led them down Pennsylvania Avenue.
Many people waved metallic blankets, what's often used to give warmth to migrants after a gruelling journey, and others carried children's shoes in a show of solidarity with child refugees.
"It's really to get empathy for people who are on the move, and not because they want to move most of the time but because they have to. We don't make policy. We want to change the world through empathy and to create better empathy"
"We created this event to welcome Amal. For us, it was really important to create an event and welcome Amal because our mission is humanising global politics through performance, and that's exactly what Amal does," Ersian Francois, general manager of the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics, told The New Arab, as the crowd was getting ready to march to the Capitol.
"It's not about putting children and different people in different categories. It's really to get empathy for people who are on the move, and not because they want to move most of the time but because they have to. We don't make policy. We want to change the world through empathy and to create better empathy," she said.
The puppet, manoeuvred by an individual inside the structure and by two people walking on either side moving the arms, was able to dance and interact with people along the route.
Through their well-timed and careful movements, they were able to give the puppet a sense of warmth and vulnerability, showing why so many around the world have been moved by the puppet's presence.
Little Amal, not that little standing at 12 feet, is designed to depict a 10-year-old Syrian refugee girl. The animatronic puppet, which made her walking tour debut in 2021, has made stops in cities around world, including London, Brussels, Rome, and Geneva.
Since beginning "The Walk" in July 2021, Amal has travelled over 6,000 miles to 97 towns and cities in 15 countries and has been welcomed by more than a million people on the street, according to the project's website.
The puppet has appeared at festivals and other gatherings in an effort to bring attention to children fleeing conflict.
Between 7 September and 5 November 2023, Amal is travelling 6,000 miles across the United States, stopping in 40 towns and cities from Boston to San Diego, with more than 100 public events expected to host the puppet.