Missy Higgins was sitting at home, scrolling through her Facebook feed when she first saw the photo. A little boy, just three years old, lying face down in the sand of a Turkish beach, waves lapping around him.
That little boy was Alan Kurdi.
For Higgins, the rawness of the image hit hard.
“I’d heard about the photo, but I didn’t want to see it because I’d just had a little boy and I was so incredibly sensitive to anything like that,” she says.
“I saw it accidentally and I literally had a bit of a meltdown. I was on the ground sobbing and I couldn’t handle it.”
It was the 2nd of September 2015 when Alan, his five-year-old brother Galib, his mother Rehana and his father Abdullah went searching for a safer life, far away from the terror of Syria.
The Kurdi family were travelling from Turkey to the Greek island of Kos. It was supposed to be a short journey – less than half an hour in total – but the boat capsized just five minutes into the trip. It was pitch black. No one had life jackets. And nothing could save Alan, his brother or their mother.
The image of Alan’s lifeless body on the sand had an incredible impact on the global public’s consciousness. For the first time, people started to truly see the reality of the migrant crisis. The problem was no longer something far away happening to nameless, faceless masses. It was localised. It was personalised. Because who could ignore Alan Kurdi, a little boy who deserved a better life. A little boy who deserved life itself.
Higgins says the image, “really brought home the fact that these people are really just like us”.
“That little child face down in the sand could be my child. There really is no difference between any of us and that child is just as helpless as my child,” she says.