A 3.5m tall puppet of a 9-year-old Syrian refugee named Little Amal was welcomed by hundreds of Erdington residents as part of her 8,000km journey, The Walk produced by Good Chance Theatre in association with Handspring Puppet Company

Today, hundreds of Erdington residents lined the high-street to welcome Little Amal to Birmingham. The 3.5m tall puppet of a 9-year-old Syrian refugee made a visit to Birmingham as a part of her 8,000km journey titled The Walk that began in Turkey on 27 July and will end in Manchester on 3 November.

Made possible thanks to the Cultural Development Service at Birmingham City Council and the Birmingham 2022 Festival, Little Amal was introduced to the diversity of Erdington and Birmingham through kaleidoscopic moments of visual art, music and children’s games. A friendship bracelet was also gifted to Little Amal after an afternoon of play and meeting new friends from across the locality.

Delivered by Active Arts Castle Vale, the “Kaleidoscope” event welcomed Little Amal into Birmingham and its communities as part of her worldwide walk representing the journeys which are often taken by people of all ages and ethnicity when subject to displacement from their home country.

The Walk is a travelling festival of hope created by Good Chance Theatre and Handspring Puppet Company.  Little Amal started her journey in Gaziantep, Turkey on 27 July and has travelled across Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and France in search of her mother, shining a light on the stories of the millions of displaced refugee children she represents. At this time of multiple crises, her urgent message to the world is “Don’t forget about us”.

▲ Image: Little Amal is operated by three puppeteers. Image copyright of Ed King, Erdington Local.

It takes three puppeteers to operate Little Amal – a stilt walker who also animates her face and a puppeteer on each of her arms. The team of ten puppeteers includes two from refugee backgrounds who have themselves travelled the route. The puppet is crafted from moulded cane and carbon fibre.

Louisa Davies, Senior Producer for the Birmingham 2022 Festival said; “It is a real pleasure for Little Amal’s visit to Erdington to mark one of the first live events supported by the Birmingham 2022 Festival. The team at Active Arts have worked hard to bring an international event to the city with a focus and priority for local communities. This kind of event is indicative of the wide programme of cultural happenings that will animate the West Midlands from March – September next year as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival.”

Councillor John Cotton, Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Community Safety and Equalities at Birmingham City Council, said “Birmingham is a city built on migration and a historic place of sanctuary, that welcomes those fleeing war and persecution to offer them safety and support to rebuild their lives and become part of the city’s rich fabric.  

“So it’s great to see Erdington welcome Little Amal as her epic 8,000km journey nears its end in Manchester next month. The Walk enables residents to find out more about refugees’ experiences and also how we can support them not just to survive but to thrive in Birmingham.”

Amaya Jeyarajah Dent, UK Producer for The Walk added “We were so thrilled to be greeted by the warmth of Erdington communities in all their diversity”.