Missy Higgins' tribute to Syrian refugee

18 Feb 2016

Award-winning Australian musician, Missy Higgins has released her newest song, titled 'Oh Canada', which is about 3 year old Syrian refugee Alan (originally reported as Aylan) Kurdi and his family's plight for sanctuary.

The video clip of the song includes drawings by children in a Caritas program in Damascus, Syria.

Missy Higgins was compelled to write the song after seeing the haunting images last year of Alan lying lifeless on a beach in Turkey. Alan's family, like millions of others, was fleeing the bloody conflict in Syria.

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Missy Higgins says:

“Like most people, the photo of little Alan Kurdi being carried out of the water shook me to my core. We often read about the tragic plight of refugees but I think that picture exposed us to the reality in such a raw way that the truth became inescapable. From where I sat in my comfortable living room nursing my newborn son, the tiny child in that wrenching image could have been my own little boy. I felt overwhelmed by a profound protective instinct for him and people like him.

"Alan died along with his little brother, his mother and many other Syrian people on that boat. The only survivor of the Kurdi family was Alan’s father, Abdullah. My heart wept for Abdullah - his loss was literally unimaginable.

"Writing songs has always been my way of dealing with strong feelings and this situation obviously stirred up a lot of emotions. So initially I started writing about it just to try and make some sense out of something so senseless."

About the drawings

The music video, created by award-winning director Natasha Pincus and animation director Nicholas Kallincos, includes drawings from children in a Caritas program in Damascus, Syria. The program tries to create a space where the children can express their feelings and emotions, helping them to cope with their traumatic experiences in positive ways.

Caritas team members have been working with the students by providing trauma healing activities, such as games, handicrafts and drawing to express their emotions. For one activity, the children were asked to draw their fears. Every one of the drawings was about war.

"After seeing these drawings, what can I say about the children in my country," says Sandra, a Caritas staff member. "They are perhaps the weakest ones in this war. They are like a sponge that absorbs all the war dirt and store it inside. The killing, destruction, devastation, fear and loss of loved ones dig deep into their innocent hearts."

Caritas' response in the Middle East

In response to the ongoing crisis, Caritas Australia has been working with the global Caritas network to provide emergency relief in countries across the Middle East, including Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Egypt and Gaza. The response has included food assistance, healthcare, trauma counselling, shelter and educational and social services. Learn more »

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