COMMENT: The images of Alyan Al-Kurdi paint more than a thousand words of sorrow 8 years ago

COMMENT: The images of Alyan Al-Kurdi paint more than a thousand words of sorrow

Oliver Skehan is a reader and he's a dad. After seeing the shocking images of the drowned Syrian boy, Alyan Al-Kurdi, he felt compelled to write the following:



A thousand words. Not enough. Keep counting.

They say a picture paints a thousand words. You can add another thousand and more in this instance.

We’re all very busy these days, rushing here and rushing there. On the go. Meetings about meetings. Switching from one illuminated screen to another.



That’s what I was forced to do yesterday evening when I first encountered the harrowing image of the poor, poor Syrian boy, his lifeless, fully-dressed body washed up on a Turkish beach.

The image shook me to the core. I took to Twitter to see if anyone else was shaken. They were. I made an assumption that the dark-haired child brought nothing but joy to his parents and family. Look at how the world repaid him.

Not. Good. Enough. Not even close.


I know as much about Syria and its troubles as most on the street but I do know about small boys. I have one. He’s mine, no he’s ours. We made him and we’ll do all we can to make him happy. With a tear in my eye and a knot in my stomach I left work early yesterday evening to hold him tightly, to look at him and smile until I’m sure his small brain wondered had I lost it. One final thing, I pinched myself and looked at him again and realised how unbelievably lucky I am.

Not long after I took to Twitter again to remove my tweets. I couldn’t deal with the interaction. Every time I saw the #KiyiyaVuranInsanlik image I saw my own boy lying lifeless in the sand. It troubled me greatly. It still does.


The whole refugee crisis, the situation in Calais and elsewhere causing people to vent so many uninformed and incendiary viewpoints is one that I’m not expert enough to dare deal with. I’m not an expert in anything. I like to think I deal with sorrow well and have an ability to talk about it, to put words on it.

Sorrow times a tonne is what I felt after seeing that poor, poor boy for the first time. If the infrastructure was put in place whereby he could have ended up in my house with my boy, playing with toys foreign to him and staring at the television with wonder on his face then he’d have been as welcome as the flowers of May. That infrastructure is not in place and perhaps my thinking on it is too simplistic.

Speaking of simple. A simple thing every parent of a boy who can’t dress himself in the morning does is pick clothes out for their small one and dress them. That child on the beach was fully dressed. Did his parents dress him that morning? Had he been in those clothes for days? Weeks? Did anyone know they’d be the clothes he’d die in? He shouldn’t be dead. He just shouldn’t. What kind of world allows it to happen?

I’m glad I didn’t see his face. I’m sure it was beautiful though. Just like his young soul. A soul lost in a bid to find something better. A child gone from his parents if they’ve not already passed on. A situation that’s hard to get your head around.



That’s what I was forced to do. What’s the next move? For me, you and our approach to a crisis that shows no signs of going away.