Giant puppet Little Amal visits LA school to shine spotlight on young refugees

Jaysha Patel Image
Thursday, November 2, 2023
Giant puppet visits LA school to shine spotlight on refugee crisis
Little Amal is a 12-foot-tall puppet that represents the story of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee girl.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- For the past two years, a giant puppet has been traveling the world, spreading a message about human rights and the plight of refugees.

Little Amal is here in Southern California this week.

The 12-foot-tall puppet, who represents the story of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee girl, is making three visits around Los Angeles as part of Amal Walks across America, a nationwide journey.

Tenth grader Tala Sultan said the character resonates with her.

"I was actually born in Syria - I came here when I was really young, probably two years old," Sultan said. "And seeing that Amal is actually Syrian and that's she's in this world kind of like me - I'm not a refugee but she's describing what other Syrian kids and other Syrian people are going through - is just a feeling that I can't really explain,"

The goal is to highlight the urgent needs of refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers and bring attention to what they go through.

"There's just a natural emotional response to her and that's the purpose of Amal is to get people to sink into their humanity and exercise this large muscle of empathy," said Khadijat Oseni, artistic associate with Little Amal U.S.

"I learned some of the puppet's background story she's like 10 years old and she's trying to look for her mother. She can't find her and it's really sad, that's like reality," said sixth grader Ryan Sultan.

Amal was designed and built by the Handspring Puppet Company. She joined students at Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in Los Angeles.

"We've been working with these students for the last six to eight weeks doing creative writing, visual art, poetry, flower making, all around the themes of Amal and these themes of immigration, finding home and what you carry in your head, in your heart," said Theresa Willis Peters with the UCLA Center for the Art of Performance.

Amal brings hope at a time when so much is happening in the world especially as children in Israel and Gaza experience war.

"It's of course not acceptable for any people to die cause they have families, they have children, they have mothers, they're people," said Sultan. "I just really think it's important for the world to see the truth that the leaders act in the right way that a ceasefire happens because it's enough."