Could the death of a child be a turning point for the world?

A small child lying damply on a sandy beach, at rest, but not from play. I saw the photo on twitter. Dead, drowned, fleeing war and terror only to die in the cold pitiless Mediterranean sea. Like everyone else I was touched, and it is an image that I will never forget, but I can't tell you that I cried, because I didn't. I've seen too many tragedies and sadly watched as each one slowly slipped from the public view. Too many times when no-one acted until a photograph or a news report pricked their complacency.

Will it be different this time? I really hope so.

Will we stop talking about economic migrants? ISIS stooges? People like us? Will we stop picking and choosing who to help?

I get it: of course we all want to help innocent Syrian children, but are our hearts big enough to embrace everyone who makes the desperate journey searching for a European Nirvana?

There is no black and white here, and many issues are remaining unsaid. You would have to have a heart of stone to be unmoved, but for those of us who are older, we wonder where this is going.

I think that how the world handles this mass movement of people will have consequences for years or even centuries to come.

Right now almost everyone is behind the campaign to help these refugees in crisis. Some are making wildly generous offers on a big scale, others quietly giving welcome or succour to people passing through or settling, while those of us who are observing from a comfortable distance, give money and try to write something that just might make a difference.

But what about when the compassion wears off? This is not going to end.

Perhaps you think I'm about to rant on about border controls, compliance with regulations, migrant camps? No. Never that.

I believe that if you treat people well, they will almost always respond. That if you give them food and shelter, help them or their children to get educated, get jobs, feel worthwhile, feel wanted and valued, then it won't matter if they stay, or if they go back to the countries they came from. They will add to any society, enrich it, enhance it, help it.

That is what we should do. That will help them heal. And by healing them, we will help to heal the world and ourselves.

I know that sounds almost stupidly idealistic, but where has the alternative got us all?

When will humanity learn the lesson that treating people badly leads to anger, resentment, fear and distrust. On both sides. On those who feel that they are being punished for requesting help, and on those who need to justify their actions by treating others as different, as deserving of less. As dangerous. As needy. As lesser in some way. And that also applies to the people who are already in Europe, in the camps at Calais, in the direct provision centres in Ireland. Let's change things for them too. I'm under no illusion that this is going to be easy: helping people who have been through so much trauma is not for sissies. There will be plenty of crises ahead. But that should not stop us from trying.

Let's remember that waging war just leads to death and destruction, and no-one is a winner for very long. Many people will say that the Second World War and the nuclear bomb has prevented war in Europe for the past 70 years. I'm not sure that I agree: I think it's education. People question everything now, they make up their own minds. While politicians are calling for a limit to the numbers of refugees, calling for stringer border controls, troops, people are standing up and saying "no" to all that.

When you hear the words "Change of Heart" you know that something powerful is happening. Politicians all over Europe are waking up to the power of the people they thought they represented.

What I hope is that people see this, take heart and keep pushing. We may think that as ordinary people that we can't make change happen, but the last few days has shown the opposite. We can.

And if we really care about that beautiful Syrian toddler, let his death not be in vain. Let it be a turning point for the whole world. Let's make things better. Starting now.

RIP Aylan Kurdi.

Note: I wrote this as part of the #ReadFeelAct campaign hosted by The Busy Mamas from the Irish Parenting Bloggers Group in support of refugees and without reading any other posts, so I apologise if it's all been said before. But I needed to say it too. 

How you can help:

  • 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 FrontieresAmnesty 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 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.
  • Share this post or any of the others in the #ReadFeelAct campaign.

  • Thank you for reading.


    1. Hear hear. Like you I haven't read any posts, yet. I'm still putting my thoughts together to write mine, I'm impressed that you got yours together so quickly! xx

      1. I've read plenty now, but I didn't want to be influenced by what others had written, though I'm sure many of us have expressed similar sentiments xx