A mother is a mother

In September 2015, an image I saw on Facebook was forever burned into my mind. A little boy, whose family was fleeing war-torn Syria, had horribly perished in the sea when the boat he was riding in with his parents to relative safety, capsized.

His tiny lifeless body washed up on a beach in Turkey. He looked just like one of my own precious boys deep in a nap, bum sticking up in the air. Only this little boy would not get up to play ever again.

I imagined the final minutes leading up to the time that the picture was snapped. The terror in those parents hearts and faces as they could feel that boat tipping over into the cold, dark sea.

I knew there were horrible, inhumane situations occurring all over the world, but I had seen evidence of this particular one with my own eyes – and I couldn’t un-see.

That photographer took a lot of flack online for taking such a picture. A picture that was so hard on the eyes and deadly to the heart. Just because something is difficult to see, does not mean that it should not be seen.

That picture affected a lot of hearts that day. I remember afterwards reading debates online between the left-wing and the right. What should other countries be doing?  Should they be doing anything at all? Was it their problem?

But I couldn’t see the politics. I could only see the mother of that child.

Born in Canada, I was awarded a jackpot at birth. Through no merit of my own, I have never had to worry about the absolute safety of my children. I am grateful to have never had a concern about plentiful food and safe water, education, healthcare, or civil violence. My everyday “normal,” that is so easy to take for granted, is a reality so many around the world never get to experience.

For the Syrian mothers, and yes, many more around the globe, there is no such luxury. Innocent women who are denied the right to raise their children in peace, based on nothing they did or did not do.

I will admit to having an overactive imagination, but I am sure that this time, imagining that fateful night at sea, I didn’t even come close.

I also imagined being faced with trying to protect my children from some horrific civil disaster. What if my children were in mortal danger and all I wanted with everything in my soul was to see them safe? What if I couldn’t find help because of “refugee policies” or non-understanding people and their hateful words? What if I was told there simply wasn’t any room for us at the table?

What if I didn’t want fame or riches or luxury? What if I just wanted to tuck my kids into a warm, safe bed at night, fill their tummies with nutritious food, and see them off to school in the morning?

This, I imagined, was the simple dream of all theses Syrian mothers. A mother is a mother is a mother.

I started to cry imagining these mothers, and those tears lasted for days. The weekend came and our family went out for a plentiful breakfast in our safe little city, and my tears flowed into my fresh-baked bread.

I spoke of the pain in my heart to my family and my children received something else with their pancakes that morning –  a lesson on what was really going on in the world.

“We have to do something!” I exclaimed.

We decided that we wanted to make a difference for one family. I knew there were hundreds of thousands, or maybe millions of families that needed help. But I had to help someone.

Helen Keller said, “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

And in that restaurant, our plan was born. The Canadian Liberal government had decided to accept more refugees into the country, and regular citizens could band together to form a group that would vow to support an incoming family who were not able to return to their homes.

I gathered together a fabulous group of people who held the same vision – to help one family start a new life in Canada.

We completed hours of paperwork, held fundraisers and wondered over the course of many months whether our Syrian Family would ever arrive.

Just last week, 2 years after that morning in the restaurant, we have received exciting news. Our application has been approved and our Syrian family will soon be on a plane to Canada. I have dreamed for two years of meeting these people at the airport, and being part of something greater than myself.

I know that it will still not be an easy road for them. They will have to adapt to new food, language, culture and weather. We will share roles amongst our group to help this family adjust as best as we can.

I am so grateful to have found such a great group of people who are willing to give of themselves with what time, money, and resources they have.

“Never doubt that a group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”    ~ Margaret Mead


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One Response to “A mother is a mother”

  1. Tara Says:

    So lovely and well written! Nothing to add! You said it perfectly!

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