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12-foot-tall puppet of Syrian refugee girl coming to Decatur in social awareness tour

By Zoe Seiler

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    ATLANTA, Georgia (WANF) — Amal Walks Across America is coming to Decatur on Tuesday, Oct. 10, at 5 p.m. She will begin her walk at the MARTA entrance on Church Street.

Little Amal is an internationally-celebrated 12-foot-tall puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee girl, Atlanta News First’s partner Decaturish reports. She will be visiting the Atlanta area Oct. 8-10 as part of her 6,000-mile journey across the United States. This fall, she will visit 35 cities, including Decatur, according to Flux Projects’ website.

Flux Projects is partnering with the Center for Puppetry Arts, the Decatur Arts Alliance, the City of Decatur, MARTA Artbound, and Welcoming America to welcome Amal to Decatur next week.

“She started in 2021 and left Gaziantep, Turkey, close to the Syrian border, and has since then walked from there to Greece and across Europe to Manchester, England, where she was communicating and bringing attention to a plight of refugees, and especially the children because they are often the most impacted by the situations in their country from which they are fleeing or which their parents are fleeing,” said Rebekka Kuntschik, development director with Flux Projects, at the Decatur City Commission meeting on Oct. 2.

In Decatur, there will be music on the Square at 4 p.m. and Amal will emerge from the MARTA station at 5 p.m.

“We’re partnering with the Black Sheep Ensemble, and we’re partnering with the DeKalb School of the Arts and with Moving in the Spirit in order to have the music and dance that accompanies all of her performances and public appearances,” Kuntschik said. “She will be walking down Church Street, Ponce [de Leon Avenue] and then up to the Square.”

She added that the Center for Puppetry Arts has also created a special story that will be part of the presentation. The event will also ensure that Amal has a stuffed animal for her journey. The Flux Project website notes that 43.3 million children have been forcibly displaced from their homes since the end of 2022.

“Yet, amidst the chaos and against all odds, a remarkable source of solace emerges: the stuffed animal,” the website states. “While nothing can replace their homes or heal their scars, stuffed animals have emerged as steadfast companions to our refugee children: a constant source of emotional support, companionship, comfort, and a tangible reminder of happier times. These comfort creatures mark the countless miles with their child, provide entertainment and engagement during the inevitable long hours of isolation and uncertainty.”

During the event, children are invited to bring their stuffed animals to join the celebration with Amal.

“This is truly one of those incredibly powerful and impactful art experiences that should hopefully resonate with people, not just in experiencing Amal, but also in thinking about the people who are entering our communities here in Decatur and surrounding areas, and how we should be engaging them after she leaves,” Kuntschik said. “It really is about welcoming her, as we should everybody who comes to our town.”

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