refugee

There was something about these images that struck us.  We have seen the harrowing footage of a lifeless toddler washed ashore on a Turkish beach.  We have watched the throngs of people – a mass of humanity – surging West, desperate to board trains that will take them to a better life.  We have seen the faces etched with anguish and exhaustion, carrying children on an endless walk.  What would that be like, we think, from the comfort of our couches.  How must they feel, we wonder, as we tuck our children safely into bed.  And our hearts hurt.

It is easy for these people – each of them mothers, fathers, sons, or daughters – to blur into one big number and one big problem.  And that is why there was something about these images by the International Rescue Committee that struck us.  The images personalise this enormous refugee crisis by focusing on a single individual.  A single, relatable individual, who was asked to open their bag and show us the remainder of their earthly possessions.  These are the things they chose to pack when they decided to flee.  Suddenly, you find yourself considering what you might take if you were in the same position.  And the enormity of their loss begins to hit home.

We found two images particularly striking.  The first is the image above which illustrates the contents of a mothers bag.  You see no clothes for her, no make up, no mementoes.  Everything she took, was for her 10 month old child.  A sunhat, medication, a single jar of food and purified water.  Vaccination records, socks, sunscreen lotion.  Isn’t that so like a mother, that during the most perilous time of your life, you pack sunscreen and a sunhat for your child?  Isn’t that like a mother to bring the vaccination records?  Isn’t that something you would do, too?

The second bag belonged to a 6 year old boy, but in it we see the touch of a mother, too.  Because next to his single change of clothes you see a small bag of marshmallows, his favourite treat.  Isn’t that so like a mother to think of the brutal road ahead, and to know that for a small moment a marshmallow will make things better?  Isn’t that just like a mother to think of something she could do to help keep her child happy, like packing marshmallows when you are running for your life?  Isn’t that something you would do, too?

There was something about these images that struck us.  We hope they do the same for you.

 

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