The world was stunned by a picture of a three-year-old boy whose body washed ashore. The child’s brother (Galip, 4) and his mother also died. The father survived, but only to bury his children.
They were all fleeing the devastation and war in his homeland, Syria. His name was Aylan. He was three. His brother was Galip, he was four. Look at their smiles. They had big smiles. Galip was my son’s age. They were just innocent boys born in the wrong place at the wrong time. Aylan and his brother were not the only ones, and sadly they probably will not be the last. There are thousands of people fleeing Syria, trying desperately to get to Europe.
— ITV News (@itvnews) September 3, 2015
Let’s be clear: The families fleeing Syria are not MIGRANTS. They are parents fleeing for their children… so much so that they decide to make dangerous treks across deserts, on rubber boats, with no life jackets… all that is better than staying in Syria. They would rather risk it all than stay. They are fleeing a warzone.
In Europe, countries are building walls and closing train stations to keep the refugees out. But they still come because they have no choice. They’d rather take the chance than stay and be killed. People don’t want to leave their countries… people leave their countries because they feel like they don’t have any other options. And in Europe people are increasingly becoming xenophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-refugee. They say “Why do they come and get everything when we don’t have enough?” Clearly, you have a lot more than they do… you have more than nothing.
Syria needs the world’s help. Can we blame the Syrians for fleeing? No. We can’t. We can’t blame them for paying people to cross them into Europe, or for hiding in refrigerated vehicles, in cars or on top of trains to get into Europe. These people are desperate. It’s desperation at a level that few of us will understand.
This 13-year-old puts its easily… Syrians need help.
Have you ever been so desperate that you would rather leave all your belongings, the home you know, to an unknown place, with only the clothes on your back? Have you had to decide between leaving a place familiar to you and going on a trek via deserts, mountains and seas? Have you ever had to get on a boat without a life jacket? Would you even get on a boat with no life jacket unless there was no other alternative? Would you get on a boat not knowing if you were going to make it to the other side?
I don’t worry about having to save my family from war. Every day I come home to my family, to food, to luxuries so many people in the world don’t have and that sometimes I take for granted.
Imagine a life where you feared for your life every minute of the day. You feared that a bomb would detonate and that your family members, your sons and daughters, everyone who meant the world to you — would be killed… what would you do? Have you experienced that intense fear? Because I know I can’t say I have. I worry about my son skinning his knee at the park, or breaking a bone because he’s jumping on the couch. I worry because I think he’s not getting enough vitamins… all my problems now seem so frivolous… they are indeed #FirstWorldProblems.
Surely we can do more. The world needs to do more.
My heart breaks for Aylan and his brother and for the thousands of people who are fleeing.
While my son was playing with his cars, Aylan was fleeing. While my son was watching cartoons, Aylan was fearing for his life.
While I worried about whether I should make pasta or rice for dinner, Aylan’s parents probably didn’t have anything to feed their children.
Rest in peace, Aylan.