Little Amal refugee puppet visits Vatican

Giant wooden figure embodies the plight of displaced children worldwide

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A 3.5 metre tall puppet was paraded round the Vatican on Friday morning to highlight the plight of refugees to the very highest corridors of power.

Little Amal is based on a nine-year-old Syrian girl named Amal and embodies all the world's displaced children.

The giant wooden figure is the creation of The Walk project, an itinerant theatre company set up to shine a global spotlight on children like Amal.

Little Amal was met by Cardinal Michael Czerny, the undersecretary for the migrants and refugees section of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development

"Amal is big and beautiful, and meeting her is a pleasure, but she immediately reminds us that meeting vulnerable migrants, insecure workers and asylum seekers in our midst requires more than just a glance," he said.

"Each of them with their own baggage of suffering and dreams, needs and talents, is waiting for us to open our ears, our minds and our hearts as well as our eyes and stretch out our hands."

The act of welcoming transforms people
Cardinal Michael Czerny

Little Amal's 8,000-kilometre journey is taking in a broad sweep of cities, from Gaziantep, near the Turkish-Syrian border, to Manchester, England.

Everywhere the puppet has been to date, it has received a warm welcome, unlike many of the children whom it symbolises.

Cardinal Czerny emphasised the scriptural and real-world importance of embracing strangers.

“The act of welcoming transforms people,” he said, although he noted that there must be a symbiosis “with reciprocal recognition, rights and duties”.

Echoing Pope Francis, who was later pictured with Little Amal, he said "we are all in the same boat", the theme of the upcoming 107th World Migrant and Refugee Day on September 26.

Updated: September 10, 2021, 12:25 PM