On April 2nd, WIN had the special opportunity to partner with the world-renowned Walk with Amal project, following the journey of Amal – the 12-foot puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian girl – as she returned to London to celebrate the coinciding festivals of Ramadan, Easter and Passover. Her message of hope and call to action to welcome refugees in the UK and worldwide has never felt more urgent or more needed, at a time when the national conversation is so hostile to displaced people.
It was a packed day of activities throughout the borough of Camden: from learning about the Passover story at Jewish community centre JW3, listening to music from Irish and Afro-Caribbean Christian groups on the Alexandra and Ainsworth estates, to lantern-making in the British Library. We greeted Amal as she arrived with a troupe of drummers at Granary Square, met by the WAW Creative Arts choir, as people gathered to break their fast together with Open Iftar and the Ramadan Tent Project.
Amal was greeted by Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith leaders who welcomed her and shared her grief that, at a time for family and coming together, she was separated from her home and loved ones. Amal bowed her head for Rabbi Shoshana Boyd Gelfand to give her the Passover blessing she would give her own children, Revd. Patrick Moriarty laid down his coat for her to walk on just as Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and the Imam Ibrahim Mogra greeted her in her own Arabic mother-tongue and shared his wish for her to have the comfort and security of his own children, and would be able to spend next Ramadan reunited with her own family.
A delegation of WIN members, as well as our CEO Marion Waruguru and our Chair Lady Gilda Levy, were welcomed to the stage to present Amal with a special lantern co-designed by WIN, the Walk with Amal team and lantern maker Sue Walpole, showing hands reaching up around the world and towards the light. Marion Waruguru and one of our Barnet members, Ajantha Tennakoon, welcomed Amal on stage on behalf London’s broader faith communities and those without faith, affirming our common humanity in the face of hate and division.
We were all profoundly moved by Amal’s message and by the plight of all the refugee children and families just like her around the world and here in the UK, uncertain if they’ll ever find their loved ones or a place to call home. The story of displacement and exile is common to so many sacred texts, as is the call for believers to extend their compassion and welcome to the most vulnerable in society. Amal strengthens our commitment to these values and to stand together against those who would turn their back on her.
Keep following Amal’s journey at https://www.walkwithamal.org/