The Vatican

Amal and all children fleeing from wars

A few days ago the Pope met with "Amal" in St. Peter's Square, which is a reminder of the "encounter with vulnerable migrants".

Giovanni Tridente-September 14, 2021-Reading time: 2 minutes
dad and amal

Photo: ©2021 Catholic News Service / U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Amal (meaning "hope" in Arabic), is a 3.5-meter-tall puppet representing a 9-year-old girl fleeing the Syrian-Turkish border to the United Kingdom. The intention was to symbolize the plight of millions of children fleeing wars and seeking refuge. It left Gaziante on July 27 and is traveling through several European cities "in search of her mother" until it reaches Manchester.

On September 10 - at the initiative of the Diocese of Rome and with the support of the Section for Migrants and Refugees of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development - it stopped in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on the eve of Migrants and Refugees Day (September 26). It then moved to the courtyard of St. Damasus in the presence of Pope Francis, who spoke affectionately with several hundred children participating in the initiative.

Cardinal Michael Czerny, Undersecretary of the Vatican Dicastery, and the Auxiliary Bishop of Rome, Delegate for Charity and Migrants, Benoni Ambarus, were there to welcome her. A refugee child hosted in one of the Caritas Rome facilities gave his testimony, while the children participated in a kite-making workshop organized by the Scalabrinian Agency for Development Cooperation.

Obviously, the children's participation was intended as an opportunity to raise awareness of the painful plight of their fellow migrants, very often unaccompanied, and of the need to raise awareness of the need to welcome them in order to give these little creatures a future.

The puppet was created by the Handspring Puppet Company, made of molded cane and carbon fiber; the team that animates it consists of ten puppeteers, two of whom have refugee experience.

The message of the initiative - which bears the name of The March, conceived as an extensive international arts festival - is "Don't forget us". It is no coincidence that, in his message for the upcoming World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis appeals "to all men and women of the world", "to walk together towards an ever greater us, to rebuild the human family, to build together our future of justice and peace, ensuring that no one is left out".

"Precisely because the world's attention is currently directed elsewhere, it is more important than ever to refocus attention on the refugee crisis and change the narrative. Yes, refugees need food and blankets, but they also need dignity and a voice," explained The Walk's artistic director, Amir Nizar Zuabi, as he launched the initiative.

For Cardinal Czerny, Amal is a reminder that "encountering the vulnerable migrants, precarious workers and asylum seekers in our midst requires more than just a glance." Each of them "with their own baggage of sufferings and dreams is waiting for us to open our ears, our minds and our hearts...and to extend our hands."

"Esperanza" will continue its tour of other Italian cities, France, Germany and Belgium in the coming weeks, before arriving in the UK in November.

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