Global human rights icon Little Amal is bringing her giant story to Derry

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She is a globally recognised symbol of human rights who has travelled the world bringing hope to the vulnerable and dispossessed.

And she’s only ten-years-old.

This Monday Little Amal will set foot in Derry for the first time, seeking to highlight the plight of millions of refugees, in particular displaced children fleeing war zones and poverty with the message ‘don’t forget about us’.

Little Amal - a 3.5 metres tall puppet representing a young Syrian refugee girl - has traversed 16 countries and over 160 cities, from Adelaide to Athens and from New York to Naples.

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Little Amal in Brooklyn. Photo: The Walk Productions/Respective CollectiveLittle Amal in Brooklyn. Photo: The Walk Productions/Respective Collective
Little Amal in Brooklyn. Photo: The Walk Productions/Respective Collective

Since July 2021 she has been welcomed by two million people on the street and by tens of millions online. A total of 440 events unique to each community that she visits have been created for her by thousands of artists, civil society and faith leaders.

Amal – whose name means hope in Arabic – is at the heart of ‘The Walk’, a project that began three years ago on the Syria-Turkey border. The Walk has so far raised almost £750,000 for ‘The Amal Fund with Choose Love’ which provides support for refugees, including education, food, shelter, emergency medical care and legal assistance.

Amal’s first Irish visit began in Belfast on Thursday where she will spend four days as part of the ‘Belfast 2024’ cultural celebrations.

On Monday she will move west to Derry where at 3pm she will walk from Ebrington across the Peace Bridge to Guildhall Square. From there she will move to Free Derry Corner at 5pm.

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Amal crossing the Rio Grande at Loredo border crossing in the USA. Photo: The Walk Productions/Bryan de la GarzaAmal crossing the Rio Grande at Loredo border crossing in the USA. Photo: The Walk Productions/Bryan de la Garza
Amal crossing the Rio Grande at Loredo border crossing in the USA. Photo: The Walk Productions/Bryan de la Garza
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The Walk’s Artistic Director, Amir Nizar Zuabi, described Amal’s journeys as ‘moments of art and hope that draw attention to the huge numbers of children fleeing war, violence and persecution, each with their own story’.

Amir Nizar said he anticipated a warm welcome in a city with a complex history of its own.

“I think that’s part of what we’re trying to create when walking into places that have a beautiful, complicated, defining history.

“Amal, a symbol of millions of children, transforms a simple walk into a deeply meaningful act. As a community breathes together and walks alongside Amal on the streets, it becomes an expression of unity and shared humanity.”

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Producer of The Walk Productions, David Lan, added: “I’m thrilled Amal will be visiting Belfast, Derry, Newry, Dublin and places in between. Wherever she goes, crossing borders, making new friends, bringing strangers together, she adds a little to the wellbeing of the world, even in these especially dark times.”

Lilian Seenoi Barr, Chief Executive of the North West Migrants Forum, said: “Amal has become a powerful representation of the struggles refugees face when fleeing war, persecution and natural disaster.

“I hope her visit to Derry will encourage people to think about those ordeals and to consider what it means to be displaced, disenfranchised and to have everything you have ever known taken from you.

“In terms of location, it is hugely symbolic that she will walk across the Peace Bridge, a structure created from the embers of the conflict here and Free Derry Corner, a globally recognised emblem of defiance and the struggle for justice and democracy.”

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Little Amal will start her Peace Bridge walk from Ebrington to Guildhall Square at 3pm, after which she will visit Free Derry Corner at 5pm.

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