It Could Have Been Them

AylanKurdismileAylan Kurdi. A little boy not much older than my daughter. Aylan Kurdi. A little boy who puts everything into perspective. To many though Aylan Kurdi is a bad word.

He was a refugee.


Three year-old Aylan Kurdi was fleeing ISIS struck Syria with his mother, Rihan; father, Abdollah; and five-year old brother, Galib in the hope of reaching Canada to live with his aunt. The Kurdi family had reportedly attempted to apply for Canadian asylum but were denied due to incomplete documentation. In a desperate attempt to provide safety and solitude to his young family, Abdollah Kurdi entrusted their lives and hope for the future in the hands of human traffickers. In the end, Abdollah lost his wife and his two sons who drowned off Turkish waters.

We have all read those tabloid articles blaming refugees for all our society’s problems. For our unemployment, for the faults in our benefit systems, for our lack of school places. I can hear the echoes of all the misconceptions and misjudgements around refugees. There is so much talk and debate on how to curb the immigrant numbers but not much talk and debate on how to solve the issue. On how to bring peace to the regions.

Several times my mother mentioned Aylan Kurdi and the image of him on that Turkish beach. I didn’t want to know and even said as such. I didn’t want to see it. I didn’t want to leave my sheltered ignorance. The news of the Syrian refugees were always a comfortable distance away and although I was sympathetic, did I really care? Probably not – I was too busy worrying about the dinner or my daughter’s schedule and playdates.


As I write this my daughter is curled up in her bed with her favourite star blanket and her growing collection of stuffed animals. She will wake to a peaceful world. In fact peace is all she knows. Unlike Aylan Kurdi.

It could have been her. 

We are all appalled at the events of WWII and the Holocaust and so often ask why no one did anything. Why so many people were bystanders. Until now, is that not what we have done? Just yesterday, David Cameron has pledged that Britain will accept ‘thousands’ more Syrian refugees in response to the humanitarian crisis. We are so desensitised that it took the image of a little three-year old boy washed up on shore for our government to take action and our nation to care? As long as it doesn’t affect us, we turn a blind eye, we turn the page or we change the channel, instead of trying to help.

My parents were refugees fleeing the Iranian Revolution and I have so often heard stories of bullets whizzing past them. My mother remembers what it was like to have young children during a volatile time and the fear she felt for her family’s safety.

It could have been them.

Aylan and Galip never got to start a new school term, they never got to put on shiny new shoes. Their parents never got the chance of dropping them off and waiting for their return at the bus stop. Maybe if we stayed on the page and we didn’t turn the channel, maybe, just maybe it could have been them.

epa04910104 Washed up body of a refugee child who drowned during a failed attempt to sail to the Greek island of Kos, at the shore in the coastal town of Bodrum, Mugla city, Turkey, 02 September 2015. At least 11 Syrian migrants died in boat sank after leaving Turkey for the Greek island of Kos. EPA/DOGAN NEWS AGENCY ATTENTION EDITORSgraphic content ATTENTION EDITORS: PICTURE CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT ; TURKEY OUT

Allah Yarhamak, Little One. Rest in Peace.

The Guardian lists many ways we can help, some of which does not include donating money.  I am ashamed that I didn’t want to know. These words I have written seem so feeble and insignificant yet as a writer, words are my weapon. I no longer want to be a bystander and I no longer want to stop caring. We can do something. We can give money, we can donate, we can at least listen to their story. Then just maybe Aylan’s little life would not have been in vain.

Opening image: The Week
Closing image:

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rubyslippers
    Sep 06, 2015 @ 16:31:24

    It is a sad situation and this little boy has made the news whereas thousands of others who have died fleeing thier countries haven’t. The problem is not going to go away unless the root of the cause is solved. This country and others can keep taking on more and more imigrants that we don’t have room for but then what?

    The unrest still goes on and peoples lives continue to be ruined. I am not turning a blind eye or saying I don’t care. I know it all happens and this ‘problem’ has been an issue for many years. But what can any of us do? Money is not going to solve it. That is just putting a plaster over everything and brushing the real issue under the carpet.

    If only the unrest could be resolved and then the lives of many people could be saved. The pressure on other countries to help will be reduced along with the critism of governments for ‘not doing enough’. How many more imigrants can this and other countries take before there is a war on our home ground in protest against the fact that our public servies have been stretched to the max and we no longer have school places for our children and a hospital bed for our loved ones???

    We could then be the ones fleeing our country because of all the unrest and who is going to help us and our children? As I said before it is all very sad but taking in more and more refugees is not going to solve anything. Listening to their plight is not going to solve anything, giving moeny is not going to solve anything.

    Many would think I am being cold hearted and uncaring. If I could personally put a stop to the wars then I would because that is the only thing that is going to solve this huge problem.


  2. C Roshanzamir
    Sep 06, 2015 @ 19:04:54

    I can see both sides of this situation. As a parent if I was living in an ISIS controlled area I would probably take any way out to keep my children safe. But when I look at the pictures on our screens I see that many of these refugees are young fit looking males. Where are the women and children? There are a few but they are mostly noticeable by their absence. I think David Cameron’s idea to take families from refugee camps is the right one. That way the authorities can process the applicants and take in the ones in most need, and it will not be encouraging others to make these perilous journeys on sea and land. But you are right, the best way to stop the people coming is to stop the reasons they are fleeing. How we do that I do not know. In the meantime we can only be more tolerant and welcoming to these people who have fled their homes and countries in the hope of finding safety.


  3. alphabetgames
    Sep 06, 2015 @ 19:55:44

    I also agree with both sides but feel the hatred and resentment of immigrants is getting pretty old. Many more have died fleeing Syria (and other countries), yet it is the sight of little Aylan that bought the devastating crisis home, at least for me. I agree with C Roshanzamir, if I was in an ISIS controlled area, I would do absolutely anything to keep my children safe. With regard to the majority of refugees being men, the people traffickers charge an extortionate amount of money and it is my guess the men usually travel because it is too expensive and too dangerous. Giving money is not going to solve anything but listening to them will at least offer them the respect they deserve. As I wrote in my blog post, to solve the immigrant problem is to address the root cause, not the actual numbers. In the meantime, a little bit of tolerance can go a long way.


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