PICTURES: Little Amal gets a warm welcome during visit to Newry

Little Amal arrived in Newry, Mourne, and Down on Wednesday May, to a warm welcome from local residents, schoolchildren, and community groups.

The 12ft-tall puppet, symbolising a young Syrian refugee, was invited to visit the district by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council on her journey from Belfast to Dublin. She is the centrepiece of ‘The Walk’ performance art project and since 2021, Amal – which means hope in Arabic – has travelled to 160 towns and cities in 15 countries and been welcomed by an estimated two million people.

During her visit to the district, she made two memorable stops in Newcastle and then in Newry where she shared symbolic moments with local school children and community groups.

In Newcastle, she received an enthusiastic reception from onlookers whose heartfelt display of support was a testament to the community's support with spreading the message about human rights and the plight of refugees. Local school children from All Children's Primary, Shimna Primary and Our Lady and St Patrick's Primary were invited to meet with Amal and accompany her on her ‘Walk’ along the Promenade with their beautifully crafted posters and welcome banners.

At the end of ‘The Walk’ members from Newcastle YMCA - a local organisation providing a safe space for asylum seekers -were there to greet her. The morning culminated in the sharing of food and traditional games, symbolising the universal language of play and the simple joys of childhood transcending borders and hardships.

In Newry City, Little Amal was greeted by children from St Joseph's Convent Primary, Bunscoil an Uiur and Windsor Hill Primary. Together they all took part in a dynamic drumming workshop at Newry Town Hall. The session was designed to represent Amal’s pounding heart, and how she gains courage through the unity of communities coming together. Amal and her new friends then made their way through the heart of the City accompanied by a colourful parade, and was bid farewell from Newry Cathedral before she departed on the next leg of her journey to Dublin.

Talking about the symbolism of Little Amal and her visit to the district, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Valerie Harte said, "Little Amal’s visit to Newcastle and Newry was more than just a spectacle; it was a powerful reminder of the struggles faced by young refugees and the importance of compassion, understanding and support from communities worldwide. Her journey inspires and brings awareness of human rights, emphasising that every child deserves safety, hope and a chance for a brighter future."

After she left Newry, Little Amal visited Dundalk, where another warm welcome awaited her.

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