Little Amal and the Drama of Displaced Children

The Puppet from Syria, More than Three Meters Tall, Will Stop at Saint Peter’s to Sensitize on the Drama of Unaccompanied Minor Migrants. There Will Be a Celebration with the Youngsters of Roman Parishes

Little Amal Drama Displaced
The puppet that will stop in St. Peter ©

Little Amal and the Drama of Displaced Children will make a stop in Rome.

“The Walk” will stop in Rome. It is an itinerant festival that will leave from Gaziantep, close to the Turkish-Syrian border, and arrive at Manchester, in the United Kingdom. Leading it will be Little Amal, a 3,5 meters tall puppet, which represents a young refugee about nine years old, and which ideally represents all displaced children, many of whom are separated from their parents. It will travel over 8,000 kilometers in search of its family, to embody the warning: “Don’t Forget Us.” It will stop in St. Peter’s Square on Friday, September 10 at 10:30 am, near the Angels Unawares monument, Timothy Schmalz’s bronze sculpture, which represents a group of migrants, inside Bernini’s colonnade.

Cardinal Michael Czerny, Under-Secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, and Monsignor Benoni Ambarus, Auxiliary Bishop of Rome, Delegate for Charity, for Migrants and for the pastoral care of the Rom and the Sinti, will receive Amal.

A Celebration with the Children of the Parishes

 The diocese of Rome is organizing a celebration for the occasion, in which dozens of children will take part from different Roman parishes. Monsignor Ambarus will welcome all and then Cardinal Czerny will speak. His address will be followed by the testimony of a refugee minor, guest of a facility of Caritas-Rome. The young participants will then be able to take part in a laboratory to make a kyte, promoted by ASCS, (Scalabrinian Agency for Cooperation to Development). The Rome 51 Agesci Scout Group will build a tent, as Abraham did at the Oaks of Mamre. The event will conclude with a snack offered to the children and with a greeting to Amal, which will continue its trip through Europe.

Cardinal Czerny: “Go Beyond the Gaze”

 “Amal is big and beautiful, and it’s a pleasure to meet her,” said Cardinal Czerny, but he reminds us immediately that to meet vulnerable immigrants, precarious laborers, and those requesting asylum in our midst, requires more than a simple gaze. “Each one of them, with their baggage of sufferings and dreams, needs and talents, is waiting for us to open our ears, our minds, and our hearts as well as our eyes and to stretch out our hands.”

The Migrants and Refugees Section is happy to support Amal’s trip and to share this moment of encounter organized by the diocese of Rome. “Amal is a girl and a stranger, completely defenseless and among the most vulnerable. Uprooted from her family, from her community, from her aspirations, she must find with the unknown persons that receive and protect her the ability to become the person God intended her to be and to take up the post that awaits her in the community that receives her.”

In preparing to meet her, it’s useful to reread the Message for the 2017 World Day of Migrants and Refugees entitled “Migrant Minors, Vulnerable and Voiceless.” Among the migrants, says Pope Francis, children like Amal “are the most vulnerable group because, while they appear in life, they are invisible and voiceless.” “Amal invites us to open our eyes and to listen to their voices, to come to meet her when she is in Rome!”

The Drama of the Separation of Family Members

 The Church of Rome calls forcefully the attention of all on the drama of separation of family members, stresses Archbishop Gianpiero Palmieri, Vice-Manager of the diocese of Rome, “and he invites to regard it as a priority when there is talk of migrations and hospitality. In fact, these days we are witnessing the tragedy of the Afghans that are leaving their country, and of many minors entrusted by parents to foreign soldiers just to save them. The drama of so many minors that remain without their parents is re-launched for the attention of all and, in particular, our Christian community is called to commit itself to receive and support the families of refugees and, especially, the minors that remain alone. And it is on this subject that little Amal intends to call our attention; she left Syria to look for her mother.

In its two centers of hospitality for unaccompanied minors, Caritas-Rome is a witness of  many tragic situations, in face of which all ideological positions should fall to make room for a sentiment of fraternal welcome.” ‘The Walk’ is a Good Chance Production presented by Good Chance’s Stephen Daldry, David Lan, and Tracey Seaward. The artistic Director is Amir Nizar Zuabi. Little Amal is a creation of the Handspring Puppet Company.

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester