WARNING: This post contains content some viewers may find disturbing. Discretion is advised.
The heart-wrenching image of a drowned Central American migrant and his 23-month-old daughter in the Rio Grande this week has sparked an outcry around the world.
For Coquitlam resident Tima Kurdi, it brings back painful memories of another haunting image: that of Tima’s two-year-old nephew Alan Kurdi.
“Yesterday I saw this image and all of a sudden it really broke my heart,” she said. “I
can’t even describe the pain of what I saw in that image. It just reminded me of my nephew Alan.”
WARNING: Photo of drowned migrants in Rio Grande
The shocking image captured Monday of the Salvadoran father and daughter, who were trying to cross the river from Mexico into the United States, serves as a grim reminder of the dangerous journey refugees face in the search of a better life.
The photos show the young father and child lying face-down in the water, with the daughter’s lifeless arm still wrapped around her dad’s neck.
On social media, many are referring to the photo of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter Angie Valeria as “America’s Alan Kurdi moment.”
Alan’s lifeless body was photographed on a beach in Turkey at the height of the Syrian refugee crisis in 2015.
WARNING: Photo of Alan Kurdi from 2015
Tima Kurdi’s brother Abdullah, his wife Rehanna, and their sons Alan and Ghalib were inside a smuggler’s boat when it capsized just minutes off the coast of Turkey. Abdullah was the lone member of his family to survive.
The image of the toddler lying face down, wearing blue shorts and a bright red T-shirt, prompted an international outcry and focused the global attention on the refugee crisis.
In the weeks after Alan’s image went viral there were several policy shifts in Western countries. His image was referenced by world leaders and politicians.
WATCH: Tima Kurdi hopes dramatic photos will be the turning point in the migrant crisis.
“We should not be silent. We should continue to show that image to move people to take action like they did with the photo of my nephew,” Kurdi said.
When Kurdi saw the image of the drowned migrant and his daughter, she phoned her brother Abdullah right away.
She said he cried “immensely” as it took him back to that moment when he too held onto his children and wife. But as Kurdi described it, “The sea swallowed them in the blink of an eye.”
Kurdi said she can only imagine that Martínez must have been feeling the same things her brother did in the final moments of that doomed journey.
Just like the Kurdis, the Martínez family was also seeking asylum.
U.S. policies have made it much harder for those seeking asylum to turn themselves in at ports of entry, thereby by pushing more migrants to take deadly risks — much like the Kurdi family desperately resorted to.
Unless you’ve lived the life of a refugee, Kurdi says it’s impossible to comprehend. She said it’s not possible to see the world through the eyes of a refugee without experiencing famine, war and poverty.
WATCH: Family mourns loss of father, daughter found dead in Rio Grande
“Building the wall is not the solution,” Kurdi said, referring to a central immigration promise from U.S. President Donald Trump. “It’s going to force more people to find another way around.”
Whether it’s Syria, Central America or another part of the world, Kurdi believes refugees are forced to take the dangerous voyage through tragedy and hope, and would never willingly leave their homes and lives by choice.
“Go live their life. Go talk to those people and hear them personally. Nobody would leave their home if they have a good life,” said Kurdi.
Kurdi says the image of a drowned Syrian toddler lying alone a Turkish beach, and now that of a Central American father and young daughter in the shallow waters of the Rio Grande, shows the tragic plight of refugees all over the world.
“How many images does the world need to see before we say enough?” she asked.
WATCH: Photo of migrant father and child found dead in Rio Grande sparks outrage around the world