- Aiken High School
Little Amal in Cincinnati, Big Amal at Aiken
Little Amal, the giant puppet in the guise of a young refugee, may have met the likes of Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval and representatives from the Kroger Wellness Festival, but arguably the most important people she met during her visit in Cincinnati were the refugee students from Aiken New Tech High School, including three young refugees from Syria.
The parade saw Amal make her way down the Roebling Suspension Bridge on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023 as part of "The Walk," where the puppet travels across the world inspiring hope among refugees. Amal has traveled 6,000 miles to 97 towns and cities in 15 countries
“This parade means to me that I'm one of a kind,” said Asifiwe Shema, eighth-grade Aiken High School student and refugee from Burundi. “I'm a part of the people who are refugees, and it makes me kind of feel proud to be here today among so many others with the opportunity of seeing another refugee like me, who's famous.”
Amal embodies the persona of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee child initially created to represent the impact of the Syrian civil war, which has lasted more than 12 years. For many, the puppet towering above crowds of attendees exemplifies the essence of persevering through the hardships of displacement, while providing a place for their struggles to be seen.
“She's a Syrian, like me. I did the same thing,” said Razan Dabdoub, junior at Aiken High School. “We walked a lot, and we ran from Syria to find a peaceful place. Her presence makes me feel happy and popular. When I see her I feel like there’s someone like me.”
Dabdoub walked among a crowd of hundreds of attendees donning a Syrian flag and a sign featuring a depiction of Syria before and after the war with the phrase “hope away from home,” written in Arabic. The entire group of refugee students held signs in their native language for Amal to witness.
Amal’s journey across Cincinnati included a gathering of children singers, including SCPA’s choir. The puppet’s journey concluded with her visit to the Underground Railroad Freedom Center, accompanied by a performance by The Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra.
As Little Amal continues her extraordinary journey across the globe, her impact on the students at Aiken High School will not be leaving anytime soon.
For more information about Little Amal, including how she supports education and rebuilding for children who fled war and persecution, visit: https://walkwithamal.org/the-amal-fund/