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By Omid Safi September 12, 2015

The image of a small boy's body washed onto the beach awakened the world to the largest refugee crisis in decades. Omid Safi shares his heartbreak, reminding us that love and compassion must lead toward action and must reach across geographical boundaries and borders of faith.

It was the shoes
that broke your heart.

The sweet boy, chubby in the flesh
was laying down on the beach
Face in the waves

He almost looked like he was sleeping
Except that this sleep
Had no awakening.

It was the world’s conscience that seems to be asleep
with little sign of awakening.

You couldn’t see the boy’s face.
Aylan is his name.
Aylan was his name.
Aylan was the name his momma called him.

You couldn’t see Aylan’s face,
But you saw the shoes that a parent,
Had lovingly put on him earlier that day.

Aylan was dead, his family fleeing the Turkish coast of Bodrum, trying to get to the island of Kos in Greece, and from Greece to mainland Europe. Fleeing their ancestral homeland of centuries, hoping beyond hope to find life, safety, security.

Many of the recent refugees flee Syria. There are now more Syrians as refugees and internally displaced people than there are Syrians living in their own homes.