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Anyone Who Had a Heart


For many weeks now, the plight of refugees has been headline news. Radio phone-ins have talked about immigration and the newspapers and topical daytime shows have been full of images of stricken individuals and families, whilst ‘experts’ and politicians talk about what should – and can’t - be done. It’s a tragic situation that the vast majority of people feel needs addressing by the powers that be, sooner rather than later. But yesterday, when images of 3 year old Syrian refugee, Aylan Kurdi, washed up on a beach in Turkey, appeared in the news and all across social media, something changed.

Alyan, his 5 year old brother Galip, and their mother Rehan, all perished when the hugely overcrowded boat they were travelling in overturned as they attempted to cross to the Greek island of Kos, where they then intended to continue their journey on to Canada where the boys aunt lives.

When I first saw that image of Alyan on the beach at Bodrum my initial thought was “click away, I don’t want to see this” but how could I simply click away? Alyan was almost 3 years younger than my own son, his parents must have been suffering unbearable fear to risk such a treacherous journey to escape Syria and get their boys to a better life. How could I look away? My heart broke for his loss, and that of his brother and mum. For the unimaginable grief his father must be feeling now to know that his quest to bring his family to safety had failed and they were all lost. How can anyone look away? The human tragedy that is the current refugee crisis is made up of a myriad of stories. Some ending in tragedy, such as Alyan’s, and those who lost their lives alongside him – at least 12 died when that boat capsized – but others end with more positive and happier notes, with a bar of chocolate and a friendly face offering a smile.

We’re not going to wade too much into the debate, other than to comment on kindness in general, so it is these stories that I hold on to as each day more tragedy unfolds for the refugees, my heart swelled with warmth when I read stories of refugees arriving in Munich in Germany. Where volunteers had gathered and people had come to donate whatever they can to those in need. Where police officers are handing out those chocolate bars and the fire service are setting up taps outside the central train station, so the refugees have access to clean water. Another heart-warming story from Munich tells us that the German people have been so touched by the plight of the refugees that they have taken mountains of donations to the central train station, so much has been donated that the police have had to issue a statement asking people to stop. There are of course many stories of those doing their best to help the refugees, these particularly caught my eye because I’m half-German and Germans aren’t often noted for their kindness – which is wholly inaccurate in my opinion.

I believe that humans are inherently good. That despite the madness that has caused the conflicts the refugees are fleeing from, despite the fear many have of immigrants, the vast majority of us can’t look away from an image of Alyan – or any other person suffering – without wanting to do whatever we can to help ease that suffering and to set the world to rights once more. These people need our kindness, compassion, and above all, our help.

There are many ways you can help the refugees, click on this link to find out how, and even if you don’t feel that you want to help the refugees directly, your kindness to any other human will help them and you – so do something good for someone else now. You can follow all the kindnesses being talked about across social media by searching the hashtag #refugeeswelcome.

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