The devastating image of Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old boy washed ashore in Turkey, inundated my Facebook and Twitter feed in September.
I hate seeing the exploitation of such an image; an image which exposed a beautiful boy in his most vulnerable moment. But, I hope that it moved the world to think differently about refugees, asylum seekers and the crisis in Syria. There are real people, with families and children, who are suffering.
On 7 September, at Get Up!’s Light the Dark event, more than a thousand people crowded the Perth Cultural Centre to light a candle to remember Aylan and others who are seeking protection – many who have died doing so. Similar events were held all over the country.
Jarrod McKenna, founder of the First Home Project and pastor at Westcity Church, spoke at the event.
“I don’t know the sound of [Aylan’s] laughter. I don’t know whether he was a cheeky kid, or a dreamy kid, I don’t know what his favourite food was,” Jarrod said.
“Refugee is just a word that means people like you and me. Only they desperately need safety.”
Days later, our then Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, announced that Australia would resettle a further 12 000 Syrian refugees in response to the crisis. This was, of course, shadowed by another announcement that Australia’s military would join air strikes in Syria, targeting ISIS.
There is hope in this situation.
Stuart McMillan, president of the Uniting Church in Australia, welcomed the announcement to resettle the refugees and encouraged the Uniting Church community to do all that it could to support them as they begin to make Australia home. UnitingCare Australia has also welcomed the announcement, providing assurances that agencies among its network are ready to support people where needed.
There is so much hope in the world, because there is so much darkness. In the darkest times, there is always hope. Even if that hope is simply knowing that “this too shall pass,” hope is what keeps us going – as individuals, as a church, as a community, as humanity.
Let us never give up hope.
Heather Dowling, editor