Little Amal | John Anstie

A larger than life puppet, as huge as the journey. A Walk 
into the multiverse, multinational, multiracial, multiplying
to seek out new friends, searching for family, connecting
us all, so that half the World knows, the other half may 
…in time, one day.

She will discover, everywhere that she goes 
on an empty beech full of sea-washed shoes 
a fest or fair, a village or a city full of strangers 
it'll matter no more if her journey ends well 
but so much depends on who writes the story…
the victors or vanquished
the divisive or divided 
the greedy or needy.

She doesn’t need history to know how it feels
to want or to need, to love and to feed and
feel the touch of her mother, her siblings’ play
the deeply felt loss of being too far away
the dearth of her years, the tracks of her tears
write their own story on a weather worn cheek
betray all her fears, bring her home somewhere 
… somewhere as alien as another planet. 

Another strange world where the weather is cold 
with seasons that brace your bodily defences
then shock your feelings till they come to their senses
till they touch you on your almost unreachable hand
sing songs, recite poems, tell tales of life in strange 
tongues, but sometimes, to surprise you, in your own. 
If only you were older, and bolder with a sense 
of the history of an imperialist, colonial past. 
Now irony is casting its net and repeating the cycle.  

This jumped up imperialism and privilege dictates
who should stay, who should go. Or perhaps 
there’s a war or a famine, or both, that ignites
a desperate diaspora, an up-rooting of life 
more horrid than the terrors each night in the jungle 
out of sight, out of mind, the children, our children 
just maybe we don’t understand. Surviving the journey 
missing meals, kicking heals, waiting for someone 
to offer you charity, to offer the hand of welcome
and compassion … yes, compassion, like food in so 
many places and ways, is in short supply these days.

Then who can provide and who will decide
who can stay, who will go, who drowns, who will stray
but those who decide, haven’t a clue what to do 
but the children survive for time being, live in the hope 
that one day, the all seeing will cool us all down 
and save an overheating world from it’s most 
unpopular creature, whose numbers still feature 
most often in bringing its battles and wars to a head
‘till the bodies and the money pile up, ‘till, by some
unfathomable cruel twist of fate, the decision’s too late.

Then the World will be able to breathe once again
and Little Amal and all who will follow, may have seen
that the miles of their lives would ultimately mean
that those lives whom she touched as she cut through 
their compromised cultural divisions, melded together 
a simple revision of all that they formerly believed. 

For a moment she replaced all our concepts of greed 
with compelling images of the desperate need
for compassion and love, for stories that tell us 
how fragile and frail, dependent and faulty we are
how we’re all joined together 'till we’re forced to be fed
by hands that lie outside our realms and control.

But those who would lead persist in their partisan quest
to retain the status quo of their cultural wars, political zest
to eliminate open-minded discussion, Socratic debate …
will the horse have bolted long after we’ve bolted the gate?

So, Little Amal and the hoards who will follow, as their world 
falls apart, hotter still, runs dry, ‘till all that is left is barren 
with dust and the ashes of a civilised age, and a people 
who forgot to look after the only source of their life. 

Are we listening? Critical thinking? Can she heal the World?
Can we save her and ourselves and hold onto the Earth 
… by reconnecting its fracturing parts, and rejoining hands?

About Little Amal

Little Amal’s story began in Good Chance Theatre‘s award-winning play, “The Jungle”. The critically-acclaimed production was based on the stories encountered by Good Chance Theatre’s founders, Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson, when they created their first Theatre of Hope in the 2015 infamous Calais refugee camp. Little Amal appeared as a character in The Jungle who represented the hundreds of unaccompanied minors in the Calais camp who were separated from their families. Following the success of The Jungle, which contributed to a global conversation about refugees and shared humanity, Good Chance felt Little Amal’s story still had so much more to say…so the creators of the famous Warhorse, Handspring Puppet Company created the larger than life young girl.

Little Amal made what was titled “The Walk”. This was an incredible 8,000 km (5,000 miles) from Turkey’s border with Syria. So many refugees have started their trek from this far away. Little Amal’s walk took her across Europe to complete her journey in Manchester in the UK.

At the last moment, the organisers decided to add one further destination to The Walk, which meant that Little Amal headed for the crowded streets of Glasgow at the height of COP26. This would draw attention to the refugee problem, which is not only caused by war and famine, but also by the diaspora which will increasingly be due to global warming as the average temperatures of the large continental masses across our planet will continue to rise. These parts of our world are threatened with the outcome of being turned into barren dust bowls, possibly even within the lifetime of some of those, who are alive today.

Introductions to Little Amal and The Walk…

The Walk has been an extraordinary demonstration of how art can respond to a crisis of global proportions. It was more moving and touching than I could ever have imagined. You might find it interesting to watch a couple of the many YouTube videos of Little Amal’s journey and the story of those, who brought her to life. I may lift your spirits.

And more video about Little Amal…


Also by John Anstie in this issue:
Little Amal Goes to Wentworth Castle — Creative Nonfiction


©2021 John Anstie
All rights reserved

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