A little light in Sydney’s dark: Candlelight vigil for refugees

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By Christina Alkhamisi and Jake McCallum:
IT was the photograph that shocked the world and Sydney’s despair has sparked a revolution in the heart of our city.
Aylan Kurdia, three years old, laid face down on the shores of Turkey, the distressing face of a crisis many feel is being ignored.
Sydneysiders flocked in their thousands to bring the issue of refugee intake to light, from across the other side of the globe. Candles lit up Hyde Park on September 7 in remembrance of the short life of a little boy, alongside the thousands of refugees suffering worldwide.
“They don’t leave because they want to, they leave because they have to,” Eighty-seven-year-old supporter, Marty Morrison said.
“They come here for refuge, we can give that refuge.”
Families of all backgrounds met as one in Sydney’s CBD to take a united stand in the hope of making a difference to the future of refugees.
“Everyone just wants to have somewhere safe to live. They just want to get away from the bombings,” said fifty-four-year-old Rhonda Debneh, as she raised the Australian flag high over the candles of the ten thousand supporters.
Her message was clear.
“Australia’s flag has lost its image. People used to feel good about it and now they feel fear when they see it.”
The Light the Dark Sydney campaign was one of many events that took place across the country, with similar rallies lighting up every major capital.
Solidarity and welcome was the key message throughout the event, with the Australian public demanding change.
“Germany is taking 800,000 refugees and that is a small country with a huge population,” Ms Morrison said. “We have a big country and small population. What is wrong with our thinking that we aren’t prepared to do the same?”
Emma McGearrity from the change organisation, Get Up, applauded the significance of activism across the nation.
“Activism comes in different forms,” Emma said.
“Donate money, donate your voice and join these campaigns.”

 

Christina Alkhamisi and Jake McCallum

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