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‘Don’t forget us’: Giant refugee puppet draws attention to plight of displaced children

A giant refugee doll known as “Little Amal” walked through New York’s Times Square on Friday, raising awareness of the plight of migrant children seeking safety across borders.
The 12-foot-tall puppet, whose name means “hope” in Arabic, began its journey at the Syrian-Turkish border in July 2021, meeting with Ukrainian refugees in Europe and visiting five districts of the city over the next 2-1/2 weeks.

Amal portrays a 10-year-old girl looking for her mother, who went out to find food and never came back, said Peter Avery, director of theater for the New York City Department of Education and producer of “Little Amal Walks New York.”

“Little Amal” has captured the hearts of people around the world, spreading a message of solidarity with displaced people. Source: Getty / Getty Images

“After the Middle East and Europe, the producers of ‘Little Amal’ chose New York because they said America and Europe were exactly the kind of place where the ‘huddled masses,’ a poem by Emma Lazarus, were welcome,” said Avery, referring to ​mind the words carved on the pedestal. Statue of Liberty.

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

“To see a little bit of … a Syrian refugee girl being accepted around the world as a rock star is so moving,” said Eric Sirakian, who stars in Broadway’s “Kite Chase.”
Designed by South Africa-based Handspring Puppet Company, Amal comes to life with a puppeteer on stilts in her bamboo frame who controls the strings that create the doll’s facial expressions. Each arm is controlled by a puppeteer from outside.

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


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