MELBOURNE LIGHTS THE DARK FOR REFUGEES

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By Rod Ceballos

 

The evening of Monday, September 7, was cold and rainy, but that did not stop over 1,000 Melbournians from attending the “Light the Dark” event held at Treasury Gardens in support of Syrian refugees and all asylum seekers detained outside Australia.

 

The people attending could easily have stayed at home, frowning at a bit of news before switching to some cooking or dancing reality show, but that was not an option in the circumstances. For everyone there, and those attending similar events all around Australia, a line had been crossed.

 

LTD Image 1 - Rod Ceballos - WEB

 

As most are aware, a three-year-old boy named Alan Kurdi and his brother were among a group of Syrian refugees who drowned as they tried to reach the Greek island of Koz during the early hours of September 2. The boat they were travelling on capsized, and the lifeless body of the toddler washed ashore. The image of his dead body, taken by photographer Nilüfer Demir, quickly became a wake-up call which could no longer be ignored by politicians and citizens around the world. “Light the Dark” commemorates the passing of Alan Kurdi, his brother, and the many families who have died while running to stay alive.

 

LTD Image 8 - Rod Ceballos - WEB

 

Over the last few months Australian political parties have gone back and forth with proposals regarding the refugee crisis, although they have now agreed to resettle 12,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees.

Meanwhile, everyday Australians have taken the lead and voiced their willingness to welcome refugees, wanting the nation to play a positive role in this global human crisis. Consequently, the politicians have had to play catch up to public opinion, giving reluctant announcements that have moved us slowly in the right direction.

We’re more connected and have more information than ever yet we are also more isolated, ignorant and less empathic than ever before”

 

 

LTD Image 7 - Rod Ceballos - Print

 

Alas, it only came about because public opinion made itself known by the people and through the people.
We live in strange times. We’re more connected and have more information than ever yet we are also more isolated, ignorant and less empathic than ever before. Many of us are quick to comment, like and share on social media but we also need to realise that Facebook “likes” don’t make the difference. People do.

We know change won’t occur by the goodwill of politicians or corporations. But it can come from regular people being present, with voices and signs, walking and standing beneath rain or sun. It’s not hard and takes very little of your time, but it does require defining what your standards are. Many people, after learning about a small child drowning in the dark, now can’t stand back and let it happen again.

 

LTD Image 11 - Rod Ceballos - Print CMYK

 

This event, and the ones held in every major Australian city that week, was organised through the campaigning community GetUp. It also received support from a number of other organisations, including Amnesty International, Care Australia, the Refugee Resource Centre and more. If you think you would like to help these groups please look them up, find one you identify with and join up. There are many ways to help: most of these organisations are happy to accept volunteers, donations, and resources. You can even like them on Facebook and share their content, but remember that this is not the same as showing up and being counted.

 

LTD Image 6 - Rod Ceballos - WEB

 

 

Rod is the Northsider’s photography editor, occasional photographer and random writer of bits and pieces. His number one fan is his ten year old daughter, who thinks being published in Internet equals being famous. To see more of this work click here.

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