Community invited to celebrate Little Amal, migrants to Cincinnati

Cincinnati is set to welcome Little Amal to downtown later this month – and members of the community are invited to help welcome the one-of-a-kind puppet and celebrate the significant contributions of migrants to our region.

Little Amal – a 12-foot puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee girl – has traveled the world in recent years in an effort to highlight the stories of refugees, immigrants and displaced people.

This fall, the puppet is touring the United States as part of the 6,000-mile Amal Walks Across America campaign. A months-long effort, the celebration includes more than 1,000 artists and arts organizations creating welcome events in 35 different cities, from Boston to San Diego.

Little Amal is going to be in Cincinnati on Friday, Sept. 22, from 3 to 4:30 p.m., and will then travel to Columbus, before heading to Akron, the following day.

The local Welcome Committee is made up of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and Cincinnati Compass, which works to advance the economic and social inclusion of immigrants, refugees and internationals to the region.

Little Amal - Folkestone - (c) The Walk Productions (c) Igor Emerich_Amal_2022.06.27_205-2

As part of the local celebration, the CCO will present what’s being called a “concert of hope” for Amal. It’ll also feature Little Miami Select Choirs, Northern Kentucky University Choirs and Thomas More University Choral Activities

Amal means hope in Arabic.

The Well commissioned local composer Sonia Morales-Matos to write a new piece for the occasion. Morales-Matos spent time with area refugee and immigrant families this summer in order to weave their collective experiences of resilience into a three-minute piece of music. The new work will premiere the week before Little Amal’s arrival at a listening experience for the more than 50,000 youth who participate in The Well’s Mindful Music Moments.

“Migration is key to human history. Cincinnati’s location on the Ohio River was a symbol of hope, safety and freedom for enslaved persons in the 19th century,” said Daniel Parsley, CCO’s associate conductor.

Daniel Parsley

In the lead up to the arrival of Little Amal, organizations across Southwest Ohio are hosting a series of workshops. Participants include ArtsWave, The Carnegie, Cincinnati Arts Association, Cincinnati Hamilton County Public Library, Contemporary Arts Center, Findlay Market, Hellmann Creative Center, ish, Kennedy Heights Art Center, Learning Through Art, Inc. and Wave Pool.

A list of the workshops is below. Specific details about the day-of activities will be available closer to the puppet’s arrival.

The immense community support for this project showcases that Cincinnati is a national leader in the arts and creative efforts, according to CCO Executive Director Evan Gidley.

“Hosting Little Amal is an honor, and we are proud to serve as a leader in the music industry when it comes to using our art form to have a direct, positive impact on members of our community,” he added.

Little Amal Cincinnati is made possible with the support of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, The Johnson Foundation, Oliver Family Foundation, and Irv & Melinda Simon.

Supporters of Amal Walks Across America include the Doris Duke Foundation, as well as leadership support from the Bezos Family Foundation. Additional support came from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Choose Love, The Conrad Prebys Foundation, the Donald A. Pels Charitable Trust, the McMillan Stewart Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, The Shapiro Foundation, and Students Rebuild. U.S. Producing Partner THE OFFICE.

Upcoming Workshops

ish – Tuesday, Sept. 12, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. | ish garage, 4089 S. Langland St.

Workshop with the theme of ‘Creating spaces for connection and acceptance – through melody, rhythm, and ritual.’ In this workshop, Birds of a Feather, a Cincinnati-based community building organization, invites individuals to explore the power of music, rhythm and ritual and create what’s called a “niggun” (a melody or Jewish tune) for Amal. It will play as Amal crosses the Ohio River into Cincinnati.

Through interactive activities such as group singing, drumming, and discussions, participants will have the opportunity to experience the unifying and healing potential of these practices. Additionally, ish’s collaboration with Jews of Color Sanctuary will bring diverse cultural perspectives and insights to the workshop.

Cincinnati Hamilton County Public Library – Saturday, Sept. 16, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. | Price Hill Branch, 970 Purcell Ave.

The program will consist of a story time and then a Zine making workshop led by Zinecinnati. The story “I Choose to be Courageous” is by Rojina Rai, an Aiken High School student and a young refugee. Rojina is one of Dr. Kate Currie’s students who took part in the Illustrated Memoirs Project, which tells stories written and illustrated by young local refugees.

Ignite Peace/Immigrant and Refugee Law Center – Tuesday, Sept. 19, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. | Forest Chapel United Methodist Church, 680 W Sharon Rd. 

Participants will learn the basics of how the U.S. immigration system works, hear about our asylum system and how it affects real people who now live in the Cincinnati area, and play an interactive board game simulating the immigrant experience.

Baker Hunt Arts & Cultural Center – Wednesday, Sept. 20, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. or 6:45 to 7:45 p.m. | Baker Hunt, 20 Greenup St., Covington

They’re hosting a puppet-making workshop to welcome Little Amal to the Queen City. The puppets will be carried by people walking with Little Amal to provide her with a companion on her journey. One of the designs is a dog puppet inspired by Sheppy, a one-time companion of Baker Hunt’s founder Margaretta Baker Hunt.

Ignite Peace/Immigrant and Refugee Law Center – Thursday, Sept. 21, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. | Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church, 103 William Howard Taft Rd.

Participants will learn the basics of how the U.S. immigration system works, hear about our asylum system and how it affects real people who now live in the Cincinnati area, and play an interactive board game simulating the immigrant experience.

Walk performers – Ciara Harper, Cincinnati Boychoir, Cincinnati Youth Choir, Covington Catholic Choirs, Drums for Peace, ish, Revolution Dance Theatre, WordPlay and Young Professionals Choral Collective

Little Amal Cincinnati Hope Events

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