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Saturday, September 05, 2015

A Heart Shattering and Eye Opening Afternoon in Vancouver: The Memorial for Rehanna, Ghalib, and Alan Kurdi

Timah lighting candles

As a prayer in Arabic was being uttered my eyes fell on the shrine set up with pics of two smiling boys, Alan and Ghalib with their Dad Abdullah. The room was filled with press,  media personnel and most importantly Vancouverites who had felt for this family's plight and had come to stand beside the aunt Timah.  It was her nephew that we saw the picture of on the beach and has now become a symbol of the refugee crisis in Syria.

Timah had the assistance of her close family and friends who on short notice put together this memorial that would change my life and the life of every single person who was willing to walk through those doors. If seeing a pic of a toddler on the beach over and over again had any way caused desensitization, this memorial did the opposite, it humanized them.

One story came out about how Ghalib, the older 5 yr old his favorite food was bananas. However their family was so poor in a situation so desperate that they couldn't afford bananas alot. But Abdullah made sure that he saved enough money to buy a banana once a wk and split it between the two boys.

Since this tragedy Timah has been on the phone with her brother Abdullah every single day a couple times a day. The man is so broken that he wants to buy a banana every day and split it on each of the graves of his son......where he has been sleeping every night.

The truth is that Rehanna the mother had been terrified of water. She had spoken to Timah 2 days before the fatal boat trip.  And as fearful as she was of this boat trip, there is an ugly truth about their whole circumstances.  She was willing to take that risk simply due to the fact that the danger of those waters was much safer than the ground they were standing on. This was a phrase that was quoted at the memorial.

At one point Timah came forward and took the mic. Her body was so frail and exhausted that after lighting candles in front of the altar, her husband had to hold her the whole time she was talking, as if she were going to collapse at any moment.  She spoke of many things, one of them being her deep guilt that she had sent the $5000 to pay the smugglers and if she hadn't the family might still be alive. To which her brother Abdullah has assured her she has nothing to be ashamed of, in reality these boys never have had good lives.

Abdullah and Rehanna wanted nothing but a life without war for their family. The boys never had toys of any kind. But as parents they were filling their kids hearts with dreams of a place called Europe where there will be lots of toys to play with and no war or chaos. And all that freedom is just 30 mins away by boat.....

Towards the end of the memorial we all had the chance to line up and pay our respect to Timah one by one. When it came to be my turn i hugged the woman, looked into her hollow exhausted eyes and imparted to her the only word that made sense in that moment, the word "PEACE"

Afterwards at the request of Abdullah we took white balloons and released them over Canada place, a few of the balloons bearing pics of the two boys. I thought of what happens when balloons get released, they go through the air and eventually deflate and go into the ocean......much like the many Syrian lives that like those balloons have been lost at sea and will continue to be lost at sea.

It was uplifting to see so many vancouverites wanna come out and support. Kinda funny because vancouverites can be a little cold and not showing emotion. But sitting in that room at the memorial there was enough tears to fill an ocean the size of the one that took the lives of Rehanna, Ghalib, and Alan.

To tell you the truth I don't really know where to go from here.  But the one thing that I'm certain of is that I don't think that I'll ever be able to hold a banana in my hand without thinking of those boys as a salty tear falls from my tear ducts and onto its pale yellow skin....

Amorous Alpacas

Amorous Alpacas