I knew I shouldn’t have looked. I knew it would destroy me and yet I scrolled through the heartbreaking news story of little Aylan Kurdi, his tiny lifeless body washed ashore in Turkey and I dissolved into instant gut wrenching tears. A little victim of the ever growing desperate struggle for a better life than that which is in Syria. A father is now left alone having witnessed his family perish, two young sons and his wife, all the while doing everything he could to provide a happier, safer life for his family.
Aylan was only three years old, one year older than my son, and there he was as if he was sleeping on the sand, a Turkish police officer standing over him before gently picking him up and carrying him away to a morgue for his distraught father to identify. Photographs of Abdullah Kurdi emerging from the morgue follow those of him standing with his two smiling son’s days before the fateful boat ride that would see him lose his family. Imagine a father, or any parent, having to go through that having tried everything he possibly could to get his family away from danger. He even applied for Canadian citizenship but it was denied due to bureaucratic red tape. Aylan could have been saved had the application his family fought so hard for been properly cared for. An NDP MP hand-delivered a letter urging Canadian immigration to try to help to bring Ayan and his family to safety. To quote from The Star newspaper: ‘New Democrat Fin Donnelly, running for re-election on Port Moody-Coquitlam, B.C., told the Star that he had submitted a letter to (Immigration Minister) Chris Alexander on behalf of Tima Kurdi, who had wanted to bring the family to Canada, but her request was turned down by Canadian immigration officials.’ To the person who stamped “DENIED” on the application I hope you saw the photograph and looked at the actual person behind all the paperwork. I hope that haunts you forever, because it will haunt me.
Many are questioning why the photograph of Aylan was put on social media, questioning whether the public really needs to see such awful pictures but I say put them up. Let the world see exactly what is going on. Many of us, myself included, live a blissfully ignorant life completely unaware of the horrors and tragedy that is really happening. Staring at a photograph of a drowned toddler is soul crushing but it brings a message thundering home; we need to do more to help.
I understand not everyone can be helped. I know it is next to impossible to give aid to every single helpless person in need. However, when there is a clear fight for freedom and a chance to start life anew, a story like this is just too awful.
For now we can only watch and hope a stronger spotlight is put on those who need help. It is so unfortunate that children have to die to make us adults realize the horrors that surround us all.
Aylan and Galip Kurdi – May you forever be at peace now, beautiful boys.