WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES.
The stories of three refugees have been in the news a lot lately. The heartwarming story of Yusra Mardini, an Olympian who captured the hearts of millions. The heartbreaking story of Omran and Alan (though the story was published in 2015) has caused millions to shed tears and think more about the refugee crisis. As you read this post, please read carefully. Please think about the war, its causes, and its impact.
Imagine walking out, waving and smiling in front of thousands of people. The lights are bright and flash around you, illuminating your face. The whole world is watching you. That is what 10 refugees from across the world experienced as they brought the refugee crisis to the front page. These 10 refugees competed as a refugee team in the Rio Olympics. They are truly a symbol for hope in this world. They fought for their lives and now they are able to compete on the world’s stage.
When Yusra Mardini’s boat began to sink on the way to Greece, she jumped out and pulled the boat to safety. She continued swimming even when the other men gave up. She knew her only option was to pull the boat to safety–or risk everyone else’s life. As skilled swimmer, she not only saved her life, but 20 other people. She also was allowed to compete in the Rio Olypmics, something people work their entire life to achieve. She is a human face of the refugee crisis. She did not let the war and carnage define her. Instead, she used her skills to save herself and now become a face for the refugee crisis worldwide.
War is simply Hell. War brings out the nastiest and most gruesome elements of humankind. A picture of a young boy in Aleppo has been circulating on the internet lately. The little boy, Omran Daqneesh, was pulled from the rubble during a bombing in his home town of Aleppo. The scene, however, it all too common. The image has been published and shown all over social media and the news. Omran has become a symbol for the children affected by the war in Syria. The media has now portrayed him as the face of all Syrian children, shell-shocked and bloody.
Many have likened Omran’s picture to that of Alan Kurdi, a Syrian boy who drowned off the coast of Turkey. The boat that the Kurdi family was traveling on threw the family, a mother, two sons and a father, into the ocean. Only Mr. Kurdi, the father, survived. The image of Alan, a 3 year old boy face down in the Turkish waters, became a symbol of the war. It opened Western eyes to the war. His story, like Omran’s, is personal. They put a face to the crisis. They show how children are in conditions no human should have to face. No human should ever live in fear of their home being bombed. No human should have to make a decision to risk their life crossing the ocean for an unknown future. No parent should have to bury their child because he drowned in hopes of finding a better life.
The war hurts everyone. It hurts the children, like Omran and Alan. It hurts the young adults, like Yusra. It hurts parents and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents and friends and teachers and neighbors. It simply destroys lives.
Please go to http://www.lesvosolidarity.org to help a wonderful refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece.
For more information about Yusra, Omran & Alan: