“Her journey represents those taken by the millions of people who have been violently displaced by war or persecution, especially children.”

The epic 8000km journey of Little Amal, a nine-year-old refugee girl in the form of a 3.5 metre puppet that began in late July at the Turkish-Syrian border comes to a close in Manchester.

Little Amal visits St.Paul’s Cathedral and Millennium Bridge during her journey around London. ‘The Walk’ sees Little Amal, a 3.5m tall puppet, complete a journey from Syria to the UK over five months from July to November 2021, to focus awareness on the refugee crisis. London. Photograph by David Levene

Manchester International Festival will stage the finale event of ‘The Walk’, on Wednesday 3rd November, the culmination of the extraordinary journey from Gaziantep in Turkey to Manchester of a 3.5m tall puppet of a nine-year-old Syrian refugee Little Amal.

In 65 villages, towns and cities she has been welcomed by artists of every kind – dancers, singers, film makers, painters – as well as civil society and faith leaders at the highest level.

Little Amal has travelled from the Syrian border across Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium in search of her mother.

Her journey represents those taken by the millions of people who have been violently displaced by war or persecution, especially children. At this time of multiple global crises Amal’s urgent message to the world is “Don’t forget about us”.

‘When the Birds Land’

The finale moment of ‘The Walk’ will be marked with a free large-scale outdoor event, titled ‘When the Birds Land’, at 7pm on 3rd November in Manchester, a city that has long welcomed its diverse and dynamic population of refugee and migrant communities, and has the highest concentration of dispersed asylum seekers in the UK outside of London.

‘When the Birds Land’ has been created through collaboration with an advisory group created by MIF, made up of adults who identify as refugees and asylum seekers and their allies, as well as a creative team that includes renowned puppeteer Sarah Wright and led by film and theatre director Simon Stone (The Dig, Yerma).

Little Amal visits Deptford Market, Deptford High Street, Lewisham as she arrives in London. London. Photograph by David Levene

The openhearted spirit of the city will be displayed with people of all ages and from all areas of Manchester, greeting Little Amal through live music and song, puppetry and dance.

This extensive public art project is produced by Stephen Daldry, David Lan, Tracey Seaward and Naomi Webb for Good Chance, co-producers of the critically-acclaimed The Jungle, in association with Handspring Puppet Company, world-famous creators of the horse puppets in War Horse, and led by Good Chance’s Artistic Director Amir Nizar Zuabi.

“Yes, refugees need food and blankets, but they also need dignity and a voice.”

John McGrath, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Manchester International Festival said: “At Manchester International Festival we have a proud history of creating participatory events that bring the city together.

“As we continue to navigate these uncertain times, the power of arts and projects like these to start important conversations, create connections and safely bring communities together is more important than ever.

“We hope that everyone who calls Greater Manchester their home, will help us welcome Little Amal when she arrives at the end of her long journey.”

Amir Nizar Zuabi, Artistic Director of The Walk stated: “It is because the attention of the world is elsewhere right now that it is more important than ever to reignite the conversation about the refugee crisis and change the narrative around it.

“Yes, refugees need food and blankets, but they also need dignity and a voice.

“The purpose of ‘The Walk’ is to highlight the potential of the refugee, not just their dire circumstances. Little Amal is 3.5 metres tall because we want her to inspire us to think big and to act bigger.”

Little Amal visits St.Paul’s Cathedral and Millennium Bridge during her journey around London. Photograph by David Levene.

Simon Stone, Director of ‘The Walk’ added: “It’s the end of Amal’s odyssey. She’s arrived in Manchester. A city with a rich history of immigration, a stunning array of diverse stories, a social fabric that weaves difference and togetherness into one despite its paradoxes.

“It’s the kind of city Amal can rest her weary feet, and know the conflict and struggle that lie behind her have a place to be heard and, hopefully, healed. Amongst her own, amongst strangers. The new adventure begins.”

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