A giant refugee puppet made in Cape Town will walk from Syria to the UK in a public art event

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 Little Amal, a puppet of a nine-year-old Syrian girl, will walk from the Turkish-Syrian border to Manchester. (Bevan Roos/PA)
Little Amal, a puppet of a nine-year-old Syrian girl, will walk from the Turkish-Syrian border to Manchester. (Bevan Roos/PA)
  • Taking place from April to July 2021, The Walk aims to dramatise the stories of refugee children by walking a 3.5 metre tall puppet over 8000 km. 
  • The puppet will move from the Syrian border, through Turkey, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and France in search of her mother.
  • In addition to raising awareness, The Walk is raising funds for refugee children. 


Cape Town’s Handspring Puppet Company has partnered with The Good Chance Theatre from the UK to dramatise refugee children’s stories in what will be the most ambitious public art work ever attempted. To do this they have made a giant puppet of a nine-year old refugee girl that will travel 8000km from the Turkey-Syria border, through Europe to the United Kingdom from April to July of 2021. 

Titled The Walk, the three month long performance aims to dramatise the stories of refugee children by using a 3.5 metre tall puppet named Little Amal. During the travelling performance Little Amal will move from the Syrian border, through Turkey, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and France in search of her mother.

Speaking about the performance, the projects artistic director Amir Nizar Zuab says: 

The attention of the world is elsewhere right now which makes it more important than ever to reignite the conversation about the refugee crisis and to change the narrative around it. Yes, refugees need food and blankets, but they also need dignity and a voice.

Speaking about Covid-19 regulations and safety, Zuab says events around Little Amal will mostly take place outside to allow for social distancing. 

Little Amal moves like a stilt-walker and is operated by three people: one inside and two moving the arms. A small computer operates her eyes.

Seeing that the puppet will travel 8000 km through countries with contrasting terrains, its creators had to be aware of the physical challenges it could face along the way.  To build Little Amal, founders of the Handspring Puppet Company Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones came out of retirement. They made her using robust but lightweight materials like cane and carbon fibre. 

Speaking about making the puppet Jones says: 

We are doing something unprecedented. It’s part of the reason why we came out of retirement and took on this project. It’s such an important thing to do, such an exciting challenge.

As a part of Little Amal’s journey, more than 70 towns, villages and cities will welcome her with art ranging from street parties, performances to intimate dialogues. 


For more information on The Walk visit www.walkwithamal.org 



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