Trigger warning: This post is graphic and may upset some readers.
Usually I find writing easy. Almost therapeutic.
Today however, I can’t find the right words.
Or any words.
He was alone. Scared. Frightened.
He would have spent his last breaths desperately fighting for his life, I imagine.
Today my daughter went to kindy. She put on her gumboots, brushed her teeth and went to a safe place.
The little boy will never know a safe place. He has been let down.
We let him down.
Every, single one of us.
You did. I did.
His parents tried to save him. They chose to take him away, to start a new life.
Instead he doesn’t even breathe anymore. The thing they were trying so desperately to protect is taken.
The idea that a parent would make a decision to take a toddler onto a 4.5 metre boat in open waters astounds me. But then, my family is safe.
We don’t live in constant fear. We don’t have to even consider a 3am journey on 15ft seas in a small, unsound dingy.
We have independence and protection. Safety and security.
My children walk freely on our neighbourhood streets. They won’t be shot. They won’t be taken. They won’t go to sleep with the sounds of guns.
I wonder little boy, did you have a good life? Did you like gumboots and brushing your teeth.
Did your mummy read you bedtime stories?
Did you daddy kick a ball with you?
Are you with your mummy now? Or are you alone?
I read that since the beginning of 2015 about 150,000 refugees have crossed the central Mediterranean Sea. More little people like you. Little boys and girls trusting in their parents decisions to chase a better life.
The problem is now you have no life.
Little boy, your brother also died. So did your mother. Your daddy is left here without you.
Please just know he tried to save you. He tried to keep your head above the water. He is left with nothing now.
My little girl will sleep peacefully tonight. I will soothe her and cuddle her. I will kiss her and tell her I love her.
I will be thinking about you little boy. I wish you had been safe.
Please know your life was worth something. You will not just become another statistic.
I will remember you.
I will try and help other little boys and girls that are just like you.
I will help because I want to know that if you were my little girl, that someone, would not let her down like they failed you.
I. Am. So. Deeply. Sorry.
Rest in peace little boy. You are safe now. You are protected now.
If you want to help:
Make a donation:
- The International Committee of the Red Cross is delivering humanitarian aid to areas like Aleppo, Homs and rural Damascus, as well as assisting the millions of Syrians who have fled to neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq. Red Cross Red Crescent is helping more than 3.5 million Syrians by providing food parcels and blankets, supplying hygiene kits with toothpaste, toilet paper and soap, and restoring sanitation systems.
- In Australia, the Red Cross works to improve the plight of asylum seekers and refugees, by providing emergency financial relief and linking people to housing, education and social support programs.
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is providing water, mosquito nets, tents and healthcare to Syrian refugees. Outside of Syria, thousands of refugees have spent years in exile. With their savings drained and employment opportunities thin on the ground, millions of people are relying on UNHCR for assistance and protection. As little as $15 can provide two families with jerry cans to transport clean water.
- The International Rescue Committee is responding to the humanitarian crisis on the Greek island of Lesbos. Each day some 2000 refugees are arriving on Greece’s shores. Most of them have fled the Syrian civil war.
- Save the Children is working with Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt providing families with food, clothing and shelter. The organisation is also conducting large-scale food distributions in Jordan. Meanwhile, in the Za’atari refugee camp, Save the Children has helped to feed over 130,000 children and their families. The organisation is also distributing children’s clothing, mattresses, blankets, heating fuel and stoves in Lebanon.
- Médecins Sans Frontières is working rapidly to vaccinate children arriving at refugee camps to prevent the spread of measles. They are also distributing mosquito nets and helping improve basic living conditions to prevent a large-scale epidemic. The organisation also sets up medical clinics in the camps.
- Oxfam is on the ground in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt providing people with clean drinking water, hygiene and sanitation packs and relief supplies such as blankets and stoves. Outside Jordan’s large Za’atari refugee camp, Oxfam is providing cash to vulnerable refugees living in informal tent settlements.
- The Refugee & Immigration Legal Centre is an independent community legal centre specialising in all aspects of refugee and immigration law, policy and practice.
Get involved with grassroots groups
- Save the Children runs early learning programs, which help newly arrived migrant and refugee children settle into Australia, as well as initiatives that help young people transition out of youth detention.
- Amnesty International has local action groups across Australia that work to raise awareness about a range of human rights issues, including asylum seekers. These groups meet monthly to discuss issues and decide practical ways to raise awareness, raise funds and take action to have human rights impact.
- Amnesty’s Welcome Dinner Project aims to connect new migrants with Australian residents around the dinner table. The aim of these pot-luck shared dinners is to create a platform for meaningful connection, sparking friendships between people of diverse cultures who are living in close proximity to one another but have not had an opportunity to meet in a supported environment.
- West Welcome Wagon is a volunteer-run registered charity supporting asylum seekers in Melbourne’s west. It supports asylum seekers in the local community by providing good quality donations of material goods, emergency food relief, neighbour to neighbour social support, as well as special projects such as in-home English support and community engagement.
- Montmorency Asylum Seekers Support Group also raises funds and collects food for the ASRC food bank. Volunteers also support individuals in detention centres and in the community.
- The Brigidine Asylum Seeker Program is looking for volunteers to teach English to new arrivals.
- The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre is an ideal base to donate foods and goods to refugees and asylum seekers. People can donate to the centre’s Food and Aid Network online through Ceres Fair Food. People can also order food online from Coles or Woolworths and have it delivered to the ASRC. The centre also accepts pots and pans and new linen sets from Kmart, as well as gift cards from Gift Cards online.