I will never forget. I'll never forget the moment when I saw the photo of Aylan, the three-year-old boy who was washed ashore after his tragic drowning.
I'll never forget thinking to myself this is not real. because we are made from flesh, bones, a brain, over 700 trillion blood cells and a heart which makes us human beings. It is that heart that makes us human. It is that heart that makes us different from all the other creatures. It is that heart that loves and cares for each other. Or so I thought.
As a 15 year old, I guess I was expecting more from humanity. If we truly cared and loved each other this wouldn't have happened. Aylan and his family would be safe because, in the end, we killed Alan. I mean look at it. Not even the fish, the sharks or any of the other creatures in the ocean had the heart to kill him, but humans, we did! We have made our own world so dangerous that, for Aylan's family, water was safer then land.
I'll never forget the sadness in his father’s eyes when he was explaining what had happened to his children and his wife right in front of his eyes.
I'll never forget the first time I saw Alan. For a moment, I thought he was my cousin. They are the same age and my uncle's family are facing the same tragic situation as Alan's family.
Alan was not a migrant. He was not a refugee. He was a little boy. A 3 year old wanting to play safely, away from violence and war!
I once believed that we were better: stronger and smarter, because we were on top of the food chain and nothing could beat us. But how did we use that power? We only cared about ourselves. We only cared about how much was in our pockets. Because we all know, the more you have in your pocket the more important you are. We forgot about those with empty pockets and empty stomachs. We forgot about Aylan and his family. Where is Aylan now? Where did our forgetfulness leave him?
Aotearoa is 268,021 km². Our population is 4.5 million. Our land is beautiful. When I was young, my family taught me the value of sharing, of working in a community, of being part of something bigger than myself. There is so much we can share. We don't want to be the kid that doesn't share.
Closing our doors, our borders and ourselves from those seeking help is not what our country stands for! It is not what I was taught!
I'm a refugee. Being here today is a great honour to me and I'm willing to do everything to save one life because that one person could be the person that saves the world!
I'm now a New Zealand citizen and have been for a couple of years. New Zealand has given me a future to look forward to and I know it can for hundreds more! It is simple: people are dying and we can save them.
New Zealand, I know we can save hundred of lives and we need to act together as human beings. This is not a one person issue. It is what we Kiwis stand for. It is right.
Aylan and all the others that have died are gone and, as much as we wish we could, we can't bring them back. But let's make Aylan the last. Let's put a stop to hatred and stand up.
What sets us apart from other creatures is that we love and care for each other. It is that which makes us human. If we ignore all the deaths, if we let more people end up on the shores, we can no longer call ourselves human. Nor can we tell our children they are human! I don't want to find more people on shore. I want to welcome them to our beautiful country. I want to show them what life can be so much more. I want to show them happiness. I want them to know that New Zealand is a place of peace, a place of acceptance.
I'll never forget Aylan.