Massive puppet of Syrian girl arrives in US to “humanize” migration

Maria Leon Tucson (AZ), Sep 6 (EFE).- Amal, a giant puppet representing a Syrian refugee girl, will visit the US starting Thursday, including several states on the border with Mexico, to “humanize migration,” Enrico D. Wey, one of the project’s creators, told EFE.

“Unfortunately, many people don’t know the meaning of the word ‘refugee,’ all the pain it carries with it,” said Wey, who operates the 3.6-meter-tall puppet.

Amal, who plays a 10-year-old girl who left her country and siblings in search of her mother, who emigrated to the United Kingdom, has traveled to 15 countries.

Wey said that Amal, whose name in Arabic means “hope,” comes to “listen” to these voices and, above all, to learn about issues affecting communities in this part of the world.

The project is a collaboration of two British production companies with Handspring Puppet, from South Africa, which created the puppet in the wake of the Syrian migration crisis in Europe and amid multiple dangers that have changed the lives of many migrants.

Amal’s tour around the world began in 2019, following the footsteps of Syrian migrants, and her first stop was Gaziantep, a city in southern Turkey, 64 kilometers from the Syrian border, where there are several settlements of these migrants.

Since then, Amal has visited multiple European countries, including Greece, Italy, France, England and Ukraine. In 2021, she also arrived in New York, but this time, she will make a more extensive tour that will include the border with Mexico, which has faced several massive migration crises.

The puppet has traveled more than 9,000 kilometers, and more than one million people, including community leaders, artists, and religious representatives, have received it.

Amal is preparing to visit more than 77 cities in the United States for more than two months, starting with Boston this Thursday.

It will be more than 10,000 kilometers (6213.7miles) of the “Amal Across America” journey, including San Diego (California), Tucson and Nogales (Arizona), and San Antonio and El Paso (Texas).

“For different reasons, people are migrating, whether because of violence, political instability, poverty, or global warming. Yet many times, the voices of migrant children go unheard,” said Wey, associate artistic director and director of puppetry management for Handspring Puppet.

Amal’s visit to this region coincides with the current increase in irregular immigration along the border with Mexico after a reduction following the end of Title 42 expedited return of migrants last May.

Wey said that Amal “practically comes to life in her presentations, and in all of her visits around the world, she has captured the attention of everyone present and the children, who see themselves reflected in her.

Its size was something they did on purpose, as they wanted it to be “visible,” something that many refugees are not.

This group says it is essential for Amal to travel the border with Mexico to “humanize” the immigration issue.

The job of traveling and directing the giant puppet, controlled by three people and one who walks on stilts, is monumental and has more than a dozen assistants.

Amal is delicate; her arms and upper body are made of bamboo cane, and she wears bright colors similar to those children in Syria wear.

As the puppet moves forward, it also raises funds for displaced children worldwide, those who have fled war and persecution.

According to the organizers, Amal’s journey seeks to change the narrative around refugees and migrants and bring value to their contributions and potential.

Emphasize how their skills enhance the communities they reach.

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