Your small, bewildered face, smeared with blood and dust stares out at me from a TV screen, you look about and bring your hand to your head as you sit on an orange seat in the back of an ambulance. Your little bare feet sticking out as you sit up high, all by yourself on the big boy seat, your eye bloodied and drooping, and you’re there, but not there.
After you wipe your head with your hand, you look at it and realise there is blood, and you don’t know what to do, so you quietly put your hand back on the seat. You look so alone, but all around you is the din of rescue workers bringing in more children from your bombed apartment building. You don’t cry or shout, you just sit, shocked, traumatised. God only knows what you saw.
I know that your name is Omran Daqneesh, and that you were pulled alive from the rubble and I know that you’re going to be okay, and so are your family. They survived, while eight people in your building in Aleppo did not. This probably isn’t the first time you have witnessed horror; your city has been a battleground for four years, almost all your life. We just haven’t been paying attention from our safe corner of the world.
As I look at your lost little face, my chest aches and my throat swells, tears flood my eyes. I am guilty, sad, sorry, angry and so bloody lucky. You are alive, but stuck there as hell unfolds and despair deepens day after day, after day, after day. Living a life which must be normal to you; surrounded by destruction, hardship, violence, and death. Your mummy and daddy must do everything in their power to protect you from all that, to give you all their love, to tell you stories and give you cuddles, to make you feel safe, and create an invisible shield around you. But even that can’t stop your home from falling down on top of you, burying you in heavy rubble, surrounding you with dust and smoke and pain and death. Being pulled out into the same nightmarish world, a relief of sorts, but more fear and more danger await you.
Your picture has been seen around the world now, and people want to help you, and wish they hadn’t ignored what has been happening in your country. And their voices might just grow strong enough to help end the horror and pain which surrounds you every single day.
You look so like my own little boy, nearly four, the same hair, so similar and yet a world apart. As I write this, my son is sat snuggled by my side, munching on his snack and watching a film on a rainy August afternoon. I feel his warmth next to me, his little head resting against my chest, free from all the fear, and stress, and trauma that you carry with you. My son doesn’t have to worry that we are going to be bombed relentlessly or that if we are hurt, there might be too few doctors to look after us because the hospitals get bombed too. He doesn’t have to worry that food is scarce and maybe mummy and daddy go hungry so he can eat. As this is our lot, our tremendous good fortune to be born and to live in a safe, stable country. I wish that was your lot too, little boy in an ambulance.
About Alison McGarragh-Murphy
Alison writes and edits stuff for The Motherload®, and is also a radio producer and broadcast journalist, a mum of two and a wife of one. Since becoming a mother she has (mostly) gladly swapped a busy social life of gigs, pubs, art galleries and museums for dancing in the kitchen, drinking on the sofa, finger painting and hanging out at the park. She talks incessantly about not having slept for three-and-half years.
Image credit: Aleppo Media Centre