LONDON – A giant puppet of a Syrian refugee child created to symbolize millions of displaced children landed Tuesday on the coast of southeast England on the last leg of a 5,000-mile (8,000-kilometer) journey across Europe from the border of Syria.
The 11.5-foot (3.5-meter) puppet named Little Amal — a name meaning “hope” in Arabic — was greeted by actor Jude Law on the Folkestone seafront.
The puppet, operated by three people, has travelled through much of Europe after setting off from the Turkish-Syrian border in July and has been greeted by thousands of people along the way, including Pope Francis in Rome.
“Little Amal is 3.5 metres tall because we want the world to grow big enough to greet her,” said Amir Nizar Zuabi, artistic director of project. “We want her to inspire us to think big and to act bigger.”
Little Amal was created by Handspring, the company that made the equine puppets for hit West End and Broadway theater show “War Horse." The puppet was designed as part of The Walk, a traveling festival of art and hope to raise awareness of the problems faced by young migrants.
The idea of Little Amal's journey in search of her brother evolved from “The Jungle,” a play about migration and displacement produced by Good Chance Theatre, set in a camp in northern France where migrants gather hoping to reach Britain.
Migrants from around the world have long used northern France as a launching point to reach Britain, either by stowing away in trucks or in dinghies and small boats organized by smugglers. About 20,000 people have crossed the Channel to England by boat so far this year.
Little Amal's journey will continue to Dover, London and Coventry in England before ending in Manchester, northwest England, on Nov. 3.
In London, Little Amal will celebrate her 10th birthday at the V&A Museum on Sunday alongside children from across the British capital who have been invited to join in musical performances and workshops.
The 25-person puppet entourage will travel to other attractions in London including the National Theatre, Somerset House and Trafalgar Square and will also walk the streets of Oxford alongside a giant puppet of Alice in Wonderland.