As I woke up this morning in my warm comfortable bed, I thought of all those people on the other side of the world displaced by war. Like many, I’m haunted by that image of the dead Syrian toddler on the Turkish beach.
When victorious images of gun-toting soldiers and fighter jets blowing up enemy targets are replaced by pictures of dead babies and devastated families hurling themselves onto train tracks, we’re finally seeing the truth of war.
Here in the Antipodes – so far away from the conflict – it’s easy to feel helpless. There’s a half world between us. What can we do over here to make a difference?
Violence is clearly not the solution to this extraordinarily complex problem. So I’ve compiled a list of ways we can help – some take only the click of a mouse; others require a little more commitment.
- Donate to all or any of the organisations linked here. International Committee of the Red Cross , UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), International Rescue Committee, Médecins Sans Frontières, Oxfam, World Vision
- Lobby your governments to up their refugee quotas. Refugees enrich communities and countries. When was a country ever less by embracing multiple cultures and faiths? Many of the world’s prosperous nations were settled by refugees, pioneers (and in Australia’s case) – convicts. My mum was a WW2 refugee and I like to think she made NZ a better more beautiful country for having settled there. So. Have more say in the taxes we pay: more resources for refugees, women and children, less resources for soldiers and bombs.
- When refugees arrive in a foreign country, one of the first challenges they face is the language barrier. So, if you’re pondering career options or looking for a change in profession, how about training as a TESOL teacher in your home country? Note to governments – in the light of current events, these courses should be FREE or heavily subsidised.
- Welcome and support refugees in your community. Amnesty International has set up this wonderful programme:Welcome Dinner Project.
- Use social media. We have tools at our disposal to reach a global audience. So Post. Spread the call to action. Here are a few good hashtags for tweeters. #refugeeswelcome, #refugees,#refugeecrisis. Tweet and retweet.
Let’s turn this tragedy into an opportunity to make the soul of the world grow.
The death of Aylan Kurdi – that little boy who looked as though he was sleeping, but was alone and drowned on a foreign beach because of a man-made war – should not go wasted. Enough of the bombs and the violence. Instead of hatred for death cults and dysfunctional regimes, instead of thoughts of war, please turn your hearts towards love for those who are suffering and your minds towards peace.
Look at the list above. Do something. Make compassion more powerful than war.
And fellow Australians, read this: