This 3.5-meter high puppet wandering through the streets of Rome, Bologna, and Paris is a symbol of something big: hope and resilience celebrating migration. Her name is Amal which means “peace” in Arabic and she is currently traveling 8,000 km to find her mother. On Tuesday 27 July, Amal left from the Syrian-Turkish border and started her walk through eight European countries to Manchester, where she is expected to arrive on Wednesday 3 November. Created by Handspring Puppet Company and conceptualized by the Good Chance Theater, the 9-year-old girl’s journey embodies the experience of the 32 million displaced children who are far away from their families.
Using artistic creation and creativity to raise awareness
The Walk is first of all an art festival revolving around Amal’s journey, it aims at creating a synergy between artistic creation and exile with the artistic direction of Amir Nizar Zuabi. Along her route, a myriad of cultural institutions, artists, communities, humanitarian groups, and individuals have been set to share performances, concerts, shows, conferences, and artistic displays to honor the refugees’ cause and to rebuild the narrative around refugees through artistic creation. The festival counts more than a hundred partnerships with an outstanding diversity: from prestigious and old cultural institutions such as museums and theatre to theatre groups and artists collectives.
Education at the heart of “The Walk”
One of the main objectives of the project is to educate children on the themes that revolve around exile: Immigration, Family but also Climate change for example. This ambition finds its place in an educational toolkit called “Education & Activity Pack” that is built on several themes: Citizenship, Art & Design, Reading, Writing, Music, Science, Geography, Drama, and Relationships. It is accessible to a wide range of learners but mainly targets young people: Infants (5-7 years), Juniors (7-11), and Seniors (11-16 years). In addition to those educational resources, a number of educational events have been organized so far in the different countries Amal crossed and an online platform “Make With Amal” which specifically targets schools has been set up for young people who would like to share the project.
WE-Hope had the chance to meet Amal along her route: in Bologna, Rome, and Paris.
During her stop in Rome, little Amal was stationed at the MAXXI Museum, which organized a series of educational workshops dedicated to children. She was then welcomed by the India and Argentina theaters who organized shows, concerts, video installations, and a special serenade. Amal also walked around the city, guided by the voice of the Syrian artist Omar Abu Saada, an unprecedented look at Rome seen through the eyes of a refugee. Before meeting the Pope, some refugee minors and children from some parishes in Rome welcomed “little Amal” in Bernini's colonnade in front of Saint Peter Basilica. On that occasion, Cardinal Michael Czerny wished to underline that Amal tells us that there are many children without families who live on the road and are looking for their families, their education, their future. But we don't see them, we don't want to see them. Amal remembers us that we must not forget them.
Bologna's appointment for The Walk-Il Cammino, the largest traveling festival ever made in favor of the rights of refugee children took place on September 19. Amal's day in Bologna started at Montagnola Park, where she attended a composition of plays for children in an event promoted and produced by local theatre groups. In the afternoon, Amal made a stop at the Dall’Ara stadium, where she was welcomed by the children of the football school with whom she spent an afternoon of sport and fun. The project was curated by the Bologna Football Club in collaboration with Emergency.
On October 13th, Amal spent her first day in Paris, she wandered in "La Villette", a cultural park located in the 19th district of Paris. On this occasion, she witnessed numerous performances of the artists in residence and the children who participated in the puppet workshops. The performances were curated by La Villette.
Download the activity pack here
Download the Education teaching note here
Link to The Walk’s website here
This article was written by Pier Giacomo Sola, Maria Teresa Natale, and Maud Ntonga. Michael Culture Association.