1:59 PM PDT, September 13, 2021
There is a huge puppet traveling across Europe to raise awareness about child refugees, and she just “met” the Pope.
Little Amal, which means “hope” in Arabic, is a 12-foot tall part of “The Walk” project, which is raising awareness for child refugees. Amal and the rest of the project are in the midst of a several thousand mile journey from Turkey to Britain for this cause.
Amal began her trip in Turkey on July 27, near the Syrian border. Along the way, she met Pope Francis, who is a staunch supporter of refugee and migrant rights. The two connected in the San Damaso courtyard, after being trailed by dozens of children that welcomed her into St. Peter’s Square.
Little Amal’s movements were made possible by the handspring puppet company that created her, and the four puppeteers that are responsible for her movement. One of them is inside her frame walking on stilts.
This puppeteer also controls a system of strings that move her facial expressions. The others operate each of her arms, and one of them supports her back. The goal is to emulate a child in search of both safety and her estranged mother who left to find food but did not return.
The timing of Little Amal’s journey is in tandem with the thousands of people from Afghanistan being evacuated by the U.S. Many are currently waiting in “transit hubs,” in areas through the Middle East and Europe, like Germany, Italy and Qatar.
Once she wraps up her visit at the Vatican, Amal and the project will continue through Germany, Belgium, France and the UK, ending her tour in Manchester.