She found out she was pregnant one day. Just like me. She probably felt nauseous for a few weeks and found the last trimester very tiring. She felt kicks and tumbles and at some stage her bump probably dropped. Then she had a baby. People congratulated her. She had a beautiful baby boy.
She was like me, this woman. Her son was like Billy. A little boy who liked little boy things, I'm sure. His life was not as important as Billy's though. He was not as privileged. You see, he wasn't born in Ireland. Aylan Kurdi was born in Syria. A country soaked in war, conflict and murder. His short life would probably be spent feeling more fear than any baby boy should feel. That's what he was, a baby. He was her baby.
As a mother we often have to do things that our children do not enjoy, in order to protect them. We take them for vaccinations and they cry, but we do it for their health. We strap them in to car seats to protect them in transit. We encourage them to eat vegetables because they are good for them. We want our children to be safe, secure and happy. We could never do anything that would willingly drive our children towards danger. It would be impossible. Every bone in our body is obsessed with protecting them. It is our job.
Imagine just for one moment that in order to protect our child we had to take a dangerous trip that could very well end fatally. Imagine that choice. Stay in a country submerged in war. A country where your every day life is dangerous, tense, and scary. It is inevitable that the next danger for our children is only around the corner. Perhaps it is hours away, perhaps weeks or months. It is looming though. No matter how close you hold them, no matter how much you tell them you love them, you cannot protect them from this evil.
Then there is the choice. There is a boat. A boat that will try to carry you, your two sons and your husband to a place where the future is brighter. Uncertain and scary but undeniably distanced from the fear and danger you have become so familiar with. Friends tell you of success stories, of happier lives and happier times. Anecdotes sprinkle through your village of children who have better futures in these new places that they call home. You lie there, watching your sleeping children, and you pray that this is the glimmer of hope you have wished for. It will be scary, it will be crowded, but it will be your chance at a new life. You owe it to your boys, your husband, yourself. You will go on the boat.
We all know what happened next. The internet told us. The photo. That photo. It will be forever etched in my mind and heart. The little boy in the little boy clothes.
It was the first thing that struck me about the photo. Initial shock prevailed, tears streamed, and I felt as though I was mourning the loss of a loved one. A fellow human. A child. I felt as though I should have been able to do something. We are supposed to protect children. He must have been so terrified. But his clothes - the little boy clothes. His shorts and his t-shirt, his little runners, his haircut. It was just another day for little Aylan. A little boy, just like my little boy, wearing his little boy clothes.
I cry as I write this. I feel guilty that I live in a country where I have such good odds stacked against me. I feel guilty that my son is tucked up in his bed right now as I write this on my laptop in the comfort of my warm home. Guilty and then profoundly lucky at the same time. It was pure luck, absolute chance, that I was afforded the better life.
Little Aylan was not so lucky. I bet he cried when he was born. Just like Billy. A high pitched empowering roar that signalled to the world that he had arrived. A new addition to the human race. The newest in that moment. He probably lay upon his mothers chest. Who knows for how long. He knew her immediately. That familiar voice. She felt warm. He was a blank canvas. So much potential. A perfect human being. So much to offer the world and yet blissfully unaware that he had been born in to a country amidst with danger. His mother probably made the same promises that I made Billy moments after he was born. I told him I would always protect him. I was never more sure of anything.
This is real. It cannot be another fleeting thought that momentarily captures our hearts until the weekend strikes and we are consumed with our own desires again. Yes, life must go on. We have to go to work. We have to clean the house. Life goes on. I get it. But for the love of God, DO SOMETHING. Donate money, attend the coffee morning, donate some clothes or much needed supplies. Go to Callais and volunteer. Something. Anything. We owe it to our children to protect their brothers and sisters around the world.
Right now there are newborn babies travelling across the world in their parents arms. They are dirty, they may be sick, they are terrified, and they may not survive. You have to do something. You have to. Please.
Here are some of the ways that you can help. Just pick one and do it. The collective efforts are what will make an impact.
Just ask yourself, if you were that mother, what would you want the rest of the world to do?
Here’s what you can do:
- Sign the petition to ask the Irish Government to do more to help. Just click here. For anyone in the UK you can sign a similiar petition here.
- There are numerous charities helping the refugees crossing the Mediterranean sea. Please, please donate even a few euro to Medecine Sans Frontieres, Amnesty International, or Trocaire.
- Alternatively, if you’d like to be part of a very worthy organised event the Irish Parenting Bloggers have organised a virtual coffee (or tea!) morning – check out and ‘like’ the Facebook Event page here – to help raise much needed funds for the Ireland Calais Refugee Solidarity Campaign. On Friday, September 11 just pour yourself a cuppa; go to http://www.irelandcalaisfund.ml/ and make a donation to the fund (we suggest €5 per person but please give what you can) and upload a screenshot of your donation plus a pic of yourself enjoying your cuppa to your Facebook page or other social media channels and tell your followers all about it. Then just link to this event to encourage your friends and family to take part too.
I am sorry. Sorry that we could not help you. Sorry that your mother had to make the choice she made. Sorry that you were separated so tragically. I am sorry that you had to feel such fear. You are just a little boy. It's not supposed to be that way.
I have a son. His name is Billy. He wears little boy clothes, just like you.
Your life, although brutally short, has awoken the world in some way.
I will always remember you.
RIP little angel boy.
Members of The Irish Parenting Bloggers have come together in a blog-hop to share their thoughts on the current crisis and to let people know what they can do to help. Click on any of the links below to read our posts and please feel free to spread the word by sharing on social media platforms using the hashtag #ReadFeelAct.