As someone who has worked with images and visual communication for decades, I too was overwhelmed by a single image that has woken the world.
The picture of a toddler washed ashore said so many things to so many people in such a powerful way.
Each of us had our own response. For many of us it was one of helplessness. Many made comments such as “I don’t know what to do”.
A single image stirred people to want to act. To change a situation that was affecting 10 million people but up until this single image, the rest of the world didn’t want to know.
10 million refugees are difficult to imagine. It is almost half the population of Australia. Yet until this single image, it was happening somewhere else. It didn’t matter. We couldn’t understand it. We didn’t need to worry about it.
This single image showed the humanity of what war, displacement and terror looks like up close. In Australia our media has been restricted from showing the face of refugees – the human face of these people who have fled their lives for a chance of safety.
This single image of a boy on a beach, brought home the reality of another world. A world, which those of us, fortunate enough to live well in Australia, do not have to face.
A death of a child is a tragedy. And so too is the death of a brother or sister, or son or daughter or father or mother. War is a tragedy.
Yet this child’s death is opening the doors to many needy refugees as countries review their policies as indeed Australia has.
This single image is causing families to open their homes to refugees around the world. It is causing people to ask their political representatives “what can we do?” It is motivating governments to increase their intake of refugees.
Closing our eyes makes it easy to not see what is happening.
Aylan Kurdi’s legacy is a single image that has opened our eyes.