Posts Tagged ‘Europe’

Photo: Romy Arroyo Fernandez/NurPhoto/Rex/Shutterstock.
A giant puppet representing migrant children, Little Amal, has crossed Europe “on foot” from Syria. She is seen here in Antwerp, Belgium.

‘We’re not politicians, we’re saying to people: remember refugees are people. We hope that the memory of this odd, beautiful child walking through a village or city or over the mountains helps change the weather a little bit.’

I liked this visceral approach to helping those of us who have no need to migrate to feel the humanity of those who do.

Harriet Sherwood wrote about the idea at the Guardian in September, “The transcontinental odyssey of Little Amal will begin its final stage this week when the giant puppet of a nine-year-old Syrian girl reaches the shores of the UK after walking thousands of miles across Europe.

“Bells will chime and choirs will sing as Little Amal appears on the beach on Tuesday in Folkestone, Kent, after making the same cross-Channel journey that has been taken so far this year by more than 17,000 people seeking refuge from conflict, hunger and persecution. …

“ ‘It’s been challenging, it’s been difficult at times, but it’s also been amazing and incredible,’ said David Lan, one of the producers of The Walk, who has been ‘on this journey right from the beginning three years ago, and on every step of the way’ since Little Amal left Gaziantep near the Turkish-Syrian border at the end of July.

“The idea of Little Amal’s journey in search of her missing mother evolved from The Jungle, a highly acclaimed play about young refugees in a camp near Calais that opened at the Young Vic in London in 2017. The play’s producers, the Good Chance theatre company plus Lan, Stephen Daldry and Tracey Seaward, came up with the idea of taking its message of displacement, loss, dignity and hope to villages, towns and cities across Europe.

“Little Amal, whose name means hope in Arabic, was created by Handspring, the company that made the equine puppets in War Horse. She stands 3.5 metres (11ft 5in) tall and is operated by a team of eight puppeteers working shifts to control her legs, arms and facial features. …

“Since leaving Gaziantep, Little Amal and her entourage of about 25 people have navigated Covid border requirements to cross from Turkey to Greece and then through Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and France to the UK.

“Along the way, they have taken part in concerts, parties and workshops. In Rome, Little Amal was blessed by Pope Francis. In many places, thousands of local people have walked with her through their town or village.

“But the most powerful connections had been with refugees, said Lan. ‘People who are marginalised, shoved to the side, see a representative of themselves or their children centre-stage and being celebrated. That’s very moving.’

“Only in one place has the welcome been less than warm. In Kalambaka, a village in northern Greece, which is home to ancient Greek Orthodox monasteries built into rocks, the village council decided not to receive a ‘Muslim doll from Syria,’ as the mayor described Amal. ‘It’s distressing, but it’s how the world is,’ said Lan.

“In London, Little Amal will celebrate her 10th birthday on Sunday 24 October at a party at the V&A. Children from all over the capital have been invited to join in musical performances and workshops. Yotam Ottolenghi is coordinating a team of chefs to create a giant birthday cake consisting of several hundred cupcakes in a rainbow of colours and flavours.”

More at the Guardian, here.

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Recently, my husband pointed out an amazing story in the Audubon magazine about birds that were extinct in Central Europe. Today they are being reintroduced and learning where to fly by following a human-powered light aircraft.

Esther Horvath wrote, “Anne-Gabriela Schmalstieg and Corinna Esterer aren’t your typical foster mothers. For starters, the youngsters they care for aren’t humans — they’re captive-bred Northern Bald Ibises, a species that went extinct in Central Europe more than three centuries ago.

“For six months each year the two 20-somethings dedicate their lives to the birds, living onsite in campers at the Schönbrunn Zoo in Vienna, Austria, and looking after the ibises from sunrise to sunset seven days a week. The entire first month the women must abstain from coffee, alcohol, and cigarettes because they have to spit in the birds’ food to make it easier to digest. The chicks eat as many as 15 times a day, dining on a mash of rat, mouse, and chicken, as well as fresh grasshoppers.

“When the ibises aren’t eating or resting, the foster moms spend as much time as possible bonding with them. …

“From day one, they call over and over: ‘Komm, komm, Waldies, komm, komm’ (‘Come, come, ibis, come, come’). When the chicks are three months old, their caretakers move them from the zoo to an aviary in Seekirchen, where they slowly become accustomed to a microlight aircraft and learn to follow it during training exercises, the women calling all the while. …

“The birds journey between the same breeding grounds their ancestors did centuries ago and a suitable overwintering site. Unlike back then, humans now watch them every flap of the way thanks to GPS tags attached to each bird. (To follow their annual trek, download the Animal Tracker app.)

‘For us it is very emotional,’ Schmalstieg says. ‘The birds follow the aircraft because we are sitting in it.’

If you get the Audubon magazine, you can see the actual craft with the birds following it high in the air. Read the online version here.

Photo: Wikimedia
Adult Northern Bald Ibis

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Erik’s sister and family are off on their five-month European sailing trip. The three children have homework to do during the first part of the trip, when they would ordinarily be in school. All five family members are contributing to a WordPress blog they call Burning Cloud. Four write their posts in English; the youngest sometimes writes in Danish. The entries are a lot of fun to read.

Here is the oldest child’s May 11 post:

this is a word for word conversation.

Klara : the first qustion is, why are we not moving

Klaus: because we are waiting for our gear to come back from the repair shop

Klara : the second question is: when are  we going to move?

Klaus: on Friday

Klara: the third question is: what is wrong with the motor?

Klaus: the gear is leaking a bit of oil.

Karl-Oscar: how will they fix the gear?

Klaus : it will be repaired in Køge  with some spare parts that are cominng form Gottenburg.

written by Axel.

Join the fun at Burning Cloud Blog. You can follow the route on maps the family posts periodically along with other entertaining pictures. (Don’t miss the photo of everyone making sushi on shipboard.)

Photo: School at sea.

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