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Giant refugee puppet ‘Little Amal’ parades through New York

A giant refugee girl puppet,
known as “Little Amal,” has walked around New York City’s Times
Square, raising awareness of the plight of displaced
children seeking safety across borders.

The 3.66 metres puppet, whose name means
“hope” in Arabic, started her journey at the Syrian-Turkish
border in July 2021, met with Ukrainian refugees in Europe, and
will visit the city’s five boroughs over the next two and a half weeks.

Amal represents a 10-year-old looking for her mother who set
out in search of food and never returned, said Peter Avery,
director of a theatre for the New York City Department of
Education and producer of Little Amal Walks New York.

“After the Middle East and Europe, the producers of Little
Amal chose New York because they said America and Europe
specifically are where the ‘huddled masses’ are welcome, the
Emma Lazarus poem,” said Avery, referring to the words inscribed
on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

Warm welcome

Broadway performers and about 200 New York City students
serenaded Amal to calm her in bustling Times Square.

“To see a little … Syrian refugee girl being welcomed like
a rock star all over the world is just so moving,” said Eric
Sirakian, who stars in “The Kite Runner” on Broadway.

Designed by the Handspring Puppet Company based in South
Africa, Amal comes to life with the help of a puppeteer on
stilts inside her bamboo frame controlling strings that create
the puppet’s facial expressions. Each arm is operated by a
puppeteer outside.

“Little Amal’s message to the world is, ‘Don’t forget us,'”
Avery said.

READ MORE: The Walk with Little Amal: a puppet that shines light on refugee crisis

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