'Little Amal' puppet to walk for displaced refugee children

'Little Amal' puppet to walk for displaced refugee children

Little Amal puppet to walk for displaced refugee children

The journey of a 3.5-meter-tall puppet en route to the U.K., prepared as part of a project titled “The Walk” that is sharing the life story of Little Amal, a 9-year-old Syrian refugee, will begin in the southeastern province of Gaziantep.

The Walk is being prepared under the leadership of Good Chance, a U.K.-based theater and art company, and supported by Turkey’s Association of Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (SGDD-ASAM) along with the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) and the project’s envoys, Turkish actress Bergüzar Korel and actor Halit Ergenç.

Embodying an urgent message, “Don’t forget about us,” Little Amal’s puppet will travel 8,000 kilometers through eight countries in search of her mother, drawing attention to the challenges she faced.

Symbolizing millions of displaced refugee children, the 3.5-meter high puppet will travel from Gaziantep, located near the Turkish-Syrian borderline, to Manchester.

The Walk will take place between July 27 and Nov. 3, and settlements along the route will be visited by artists and NGOs hosting culture and art events for the public.

According to Amir Nizar Zuabi, the art director of the project, the journey is an ambitious traveling arts and culture festival.

Little Amal’s journey from Gaziantep to Manchester will cover a distance of 8,000 kilometers, stopping in 65 cities and participating in over 120 events, Zuabi said, adding that the project aimed to bring a new perspective to the issue of refugees and reshape existing perceptions.

He stressed that refugees contributed to their host countries by enriching their culture and language.

Noting that the European perception of the refugee crisis was related to its start in Greek borders, he said events were unfolding prior to refugees’ arrival in the EU zone and that the latest crisis in this regard could be scaled with Syria and its neighbors.

He said it was significant that the project began its journey in Turkey, the world’s top refugee-hosting country with over 3.6 million displaced Syrians and that the project was like a show with an 8,000-kilometer stage that would grow with the experiences gained along the way.

SGDD-ASAM General Coordinator İbrahim Vurgun Kavlak said two people on average were displaced across the world every second and that children were among the most vulnerable of the migrant community.

“Children account for 30 percent of the world’s population and 42 percent of those who have been forcibly displaced. From 2018 to 2020, nearly a million children were born as refugees,” he said, adding that people, wary of reasons such as conflicts and poverty, embarked on journeys of hope and risked their lives in the Mediterranean in search of a better life.

“Therefore, the walk of Little Amal is going to be one of the best organizations’ representing the condition these [refugee] children are exposed to,” he said.

IKSV Deputy Director Yeşim Oymak said hundreds of thousands of people were forcibly displaced due to a number of factors including war, drought, and environmental reasons, and they hit the road while risking great suffering.

Her organization is taking part in the project for the sake of humanitarian perspective towards refugees and children in particular, she added.