In partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies

Bloomberg Philanthropies works to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people by focusing on five key areas: the arts, education, the environment, government innovation, and public health. We produced two independent productions in collaboration when their CityLab conference was held in Amsterdam.

Little Amal’s walk challenges perceptions about refugees and inspires hope through art

The story of Little Amal is the story of a refugee, a ten-year-old girl who has embarked on a journey across Europe and now the United States. Amal’s journey, which started in 2021, has already covered an impressive 9,000 kilometers. But what makes Little Amal’s walk so special is the story behind it and the message it carries.

Amir is guiding the skilled puppet players through Dam Square in Amsterdam.

Amir Nizar Zuabi, the man behind the Walk with Amal project, wanted to create something that celebrates the long and arduous journey that refugees make across Europe. The idea was to have a big, beautiful girl leading the way, a symbolic representation of the strength and resilience of refugees. Speaking about the project, Zuabi says, “We need to think of them as amazing human potential.”

Little Amal: A Symbol of Resilience and Strength

Little Amal is not just a symbol; she is a character, with a backstory and a personality. “We know that she loves life, but she’s also traumatized. She lost her family. She’s also alone and afraid, but she’s also forceful and capable. And she’s vulnerable, but resilient. And this mixture is what makes her very special,” explains Zuabi.

Source: Photo from The Walk, Facebook

Challenging Perceptions of Refugees and Their Potential

Through this project, Zuabi hopes to challenge perceptions of refugees and show that they are people, complicated, but people, just like everybody else. He believes that the biggest mistake we make is not harnessing the potential of these people who are trying to create a new life. “We keep them in this legal limbo situation where they can’t really strike roots and become productive citizens of a new society,” says Zuabi.

Little Amal visits the City of London. Leadenhall Market. London. Photograph by David Levene 29/3/23

The Walk with Amal: Celebrating the Journey of Refugees

The Walk with Amal project is not just about Little Amal’s journey. It’s about the people she meets along the way and the communities that welcome her. “Refugees in all the cities that we walk through felt very proud that their story is told and that their story is joyous. It’s not a walk of misery. It is a walk of dignity. It’s a walk of celebration,” says Zuabi.

Inspiring Communities to Welcome and Embrace Refugees

The Walk with Amal project is an opportunity for communities to come together and show that they are better, more welcoming, and that they want to welcome. It’s a reminder that refugees are people with potential, and that we need to think of them as such.

If you want to read more about this topic, check out this article about how a Greek couple feeds hundreds of refugees and homeless. And ask yourself, in which city would you like to welcome Amal?

8 practical ways to help refugees

Here are eight other meaningful ways you can help refugees.

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