- Title: Puppet makes cross-Europe trek to support child refugees
- Date: 28th September 2021
- Summary: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND (SEPTEMBER 28, 2021) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF AMAL, A 3.5-METRE-TALL PUPPET DEPICTING A YOUNG SYRIAN REFUGEE GIRL STANDING IN FRONT OF THE UNITED NATIONS BUILDING PUPPETEER INSIDE PUPPET AMAL PLAYING WITH WATER JET ON PLACE DES NATIONS CHILDREN HOLDING SIGNS WELCOMING AMAL AMAL IN FRONT OF CHILDREN HOLDING SIGNS (SOUNDBITE) (French) 9 YEARS OLD, ALICIA MINARDI, SAYING: "I'm sad becauseâ€¦ well, I'm happy and sad. Happy because for me and my classmates, everything is great, but I'm sad, because there are a lot of children for whom it's very hard to live like this." (JOURNALIST ASKING: "Did you know all that before Alma came in here?") "I knew there were people who were forced to flee, but such a high number, no." VARIOUS OF AMAL UNDER THE BROKEN CHAIR ON PLACE DES NATIONS CHILDREN CALLING FOR AMAL VARIOUS OF AMAL WAVING TO CHILDREN (SOUNDBITE) (French) GENEVA RESIDENTS, CAROLE BRUIHIN AND ANNE-SOPHIE PIACHAUD, SAYING: BRUIHIN: "We are immersed in a real world, she became real very quickly, we realize there is someone inside, but she became so real, with all the children around her, that was such a beautiful moment." PIACHAUD: "Between taking the bags that children and associations were giving, looking at the pictures that were brought by children, banners talking about peace and when she was facing the United Nations, it was completely real. We can all face the United Nations, behind this barrier and say: 'Come on, we do something now'." VARIOUS OF AMAL AT BAINS DES PAQUIS ON GENEVA LAKE SIDE (SOUNDBITE) (French) PRODUCER OF 'THE WALK' IN FRANCE, GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND BELGIUM, CLAIRE BEJANIN, SAYING: "We are artists, so we create emotion, empathy to try and make things change, that's for sure. We call on children from all over world to write letters for children like Amal and that we will bring to the European Parliament. And in association with the La Monnaie theatre, those letters will be brought to the European Parliament. We use the tools we have, which are images, beauty, art and different communities." VARIOUS OF CHILDREN CALLING FOR AMAL VARIOUS OF CHILDREN TOUCHING AMAL'S HANDS VARIOUS OF WOMEN FROM AN ASSOCIATION FOR REFUGEES OFFERING FOOD TO AMAL (SOUNDBITE) (French) ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR CAMARADA ASSOCIATION, CAROLE BREUKEL, SAYING: "Several women who are in our association have lost their children between their country of origin and transit countries and they have to wait, sometime several years, to get reunited with them. Because Switzerland has put in place quite strict criteria allowing family reunification. You need to have an apartment big enough, be financially independent, you need specific permits otherwise it's not possible. And in these conditions, for a mother, it's very hard to be separated from her child and to have news regularly. So, Amal is a little girl doing this trip to Europe to find her mother, we have the mothers waiting for the children that should arrive." VARIOUS OF AMAL AT BAINS DES PAQUIS
- Embargoed: 12th October 2021 18:15
- Keywords: Amal Broken Chair Geneva Syria The Walk United Nations migrants puppet refugees
- Location: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
- City: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
- Country: Switzerland
- Topics: Europe,Asylum/Immigration/Refugees,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA001EWMXDFR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A 3.5-metre (11.5 ft.)-tall puppet depicting a Syrian refugee girl arrived in Geneva on Tuesday (September 28) as part of an 8,000-km (4,970-mile) walk across Europe to raise awareness of the plight of young refugees.
"Little Amal" -- which mean 'hope' in Arabic -- started her journey on July 27 in Gaziantep, Turkey, near the Syrian border.
After her stop in Geneva, she will continue toward her last stop in the northern English city of Manchester.
It was a sobering moment for nine-year-old Alicia Minardi, who was visiting the protest site outside the U.N. European headquarters with her school class.
"I'm happy and sad. Happy because for me and my classmates, everything is great, but I'm sad because there are a lot of children for whom it's very hard to live like this," she said.
The puppet depicts a nine-year-old refugee girl in search of safety and her mother, who never returned from her attempt to find food.
The Handspring Puppet Company created her as part of an effort to raise awareness about the plight of unaccompanied refugee children.
"When she was facing the United Nations, it was completely real. We can all face the United Nations, behind this barrier and say: 'Come on, we do something now'", said Anne-Sophie Piachaud who came with a friend to see Amal.
Four puppeteers bring Amal to life, including one inside her frame walking on stilts who also operates a complex system of strings that control the puppet's facial expressions.
There are also puppeteers operating each arm, and one supporting her back.
Amal also met Geneva residents on the lake side, where women from a refugees association were waiting for her with cakes and pies.
(Production: Cecile Mantovani, Denis Balibouse)
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