The image of a little boy whose body washed up on a Turkish shore has the attention of the world. But while millions mourn the loss of little Aylan and as his heartbreaking pictures sweep across the internet, I am haunted by another image.
It is the moment captured of Aylan’s father leaving the hospital with a look of desperation and hopelessness that I will never forget. In an instant, he lost everything he held dear, a wife and two sons. The beauty in his life has been shattered. He fought and gave all he had to save his family . . . but it was not enough.
As a mother, as a human . . . I simply cannot forget.
But why did it take such a horrific sight to awaken us? And, how long will we remain awake before we once again slip into a self-absorbed slumber?
The Pope addressed our inaction, reminding us on Sunday that it is simply not enough to say “have courage” and “hang in there” to the hundreds of thousands of refugees seeking safety.
No, this is our global moment of truth. A moment where all we claim to believe is put to the test.
My 20 years in humanitarian work does not insulate me from a crisis like this. In fact, it enrages me all the more. In our day, in my generation, how is this possible?
I would have never dreamed that the day would come when it would take the image of a lifeless, innocent little boy to shake us out of our complacency.
The world has stood silent far too long.
Perhaps we are not ready to receive the “tired, poor, huddled masses,” but the truth is, without increased help, more refugees will continue to flow into Europe. And while we may not be able to control the government leaders and how many refugees they will receive, we can help these people where they are right now.
World Help has been working extensively in war-torn communities in the Middle East for many years, and most recently helping with the growing Iraqi/Syrian refugee crisis. We are providing food, water, clothing, blankets, heaters, basic living necessities, and much-needed medicines and medical attention.
Our work is providing opportunities for children to once again attend school, and seed money for single mothers to launch small businesses. These sustainable opportunities will enable families to generate much-needed income, stimulate local economies, and provide valuable services to refugee communities. Our efforts on the ground are working and making a difference as nearly 120,000 people have been impacted.
More than 70 years ago, Oskar Schindler, an ethnic German, dared to do the impossible, and 1,200 Jewish lives were spared. He spent about 4 million German marks to accomplish this—an enormous amount of money now but especially then.
And while I would love to say that he was a moral man with many virtues, he was reportedly an alcoholic, had affairs, left his wife, lied, and paid many bribes. His motives did not appear to have been fueled by any religious obligation. It was simply his humanity that drove him to give up everything he had to save lives.
“No one will ever know exactly what made this complex man do what no German had the courage to do . . . not even those who admire him most can figure out his motives. But Oskar Schindler rose to the highest level of humanity, walked through the bloody mud of the Holocaust without soiling his soul, his compassion, his respect for human life – and gave his Jews a second chance at life.”
He didn’t wait for the Holocaust to end or for the Nazis to be defeated. No, he simply saved lives. And in 2013, there were an estimated 7,000 living descendants of Schindler’s Jews.
In an interview, he was quoted as saying, “I felt that the Jews were being destroyed. I had to help them; there was no choice.”
The question is: While we are facing what some would call a “modern day holocaust,” why do we feel we have a choice now? If one man can accomplish so much, what could we do together?
Today, we face a crisis of epic proportions. An estimated 28 million people in the Middle East are in need of humanitarian aid—and half of them are children. The resulting refugee crisis is the world’s worst since World War II.
They come from diverse backgrounds and so many claim a faith very different from my own. But that makes them no less human and no less worthy of being rescued.
My faith claims to care about the suffering, the sick, the wounded, the brokenhearted, the homeless, and the hopeless. My faith stands for justice.
Our faith should compel us to take action. But if that is not enough, well, then our humanity alone should require it.
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And a gift of $175 can help an entire refugee family.