I have been following the Syrian war for almost two years, and it has been something that concerns and moves me deeply.
What angers me most is that innocent people are caught in the crossfire and live in fear everyday for their lives. Millions of Syrians are now displaced and fleeing their war-torn countries in search for freedom and safety, even making treacherous and life-threatening journeys in desperation. Where they once were normal, working people, they are now asylum seekers hoping for a refuge in a better place.
I have read that it is the worst humanitarian crisis since WW2. Now the heart breaking picture of 2-year-old Syrian Aylan Kurdi washed up face down on the shore has moved the world into action, there has never been a better time to be compassionate and conscious people, ready to help those in need.
This issue resonates with me on a particularly deep and special level because I come a family of refugees. For those who don’t know, I was born in a refugee camp in South Korea, the youngest in my camp. My parents fled the famine and oppressive government in China by boat and ended up in Busan, South Korea for four years. I have seen videos of the refugees, worshipping to God with tears streaming down their face, praying for a way out. When I was 4 months old, through nothing short of a miracle from God, New Zealand opened its doors to us and I have since been living here my whole life. This is why I get emotional talking about gratefulness, because I know how damn lucky I am to have made it here. I could have experienced refugee life. I could have never been conceived if my parents drowned on that boat to South Korea. I could have been an asylum seeker. This makes me extremely proud and thankful to be living here. Of all the countries that didn’t open their doors to us, I’m glad that New Zealand was the only one that did.
It’s the most beautiful country in the whole world. I look out the window and I see the bluest of blue skies. There are trees and grass EVERYWHERE. The people are chilled out and friendly and everything is ‘all good.’ I read once that we are the second most peaceful country in the world next to Norway, we are the most free country (beating America), we have the most peaceful government in the world and we have the most multi-cultural couples in the world. Compared to the war-torn countries in the Middle East, we have the dream.
What has made me respect and love this country even more is the fact that we have increased our refugee quota and will be taking in an extra 600 more asylum seekers in the next two years. We are increasing our donation to aid humanitarian efforts in the Middle East and thousands of Kiwis have already signed up to open their own homes to refugees. It is my hope and prayer that these refugees who land on our shores will find peace and safety here as my family and I did as refugees. Most of all, I hope that all Syrian refugees around the world will find help from us when they need it. Because it’s not ‘them’ and ‘us’ – it’s ‘we.’ And it our honour as people who live in such a overflowing and abundant country to help carry the burdens of those who are falling behind. We are blessed by God to be a blessing to others.
So pray. Donate if and when you can. Speak out about it and let your voice be heard. Spread compassion to those who need it. Because Jesus, the most loving person who ever lived, once said, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”