Two years ago Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi drowned whilst attempting to reach Greece. Images of the three-year old shocked the world, and to commemorate the anniversary of his passing two years ago The Guardian has released virtual reality (VR) project Sea Prayer.
Written by UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and acclaimed author Khaled Hosseini and narrated by BAFTA Award winning actor Adeel Akhtar, Sea Prayer is an animated film using Tilt Brush which tells the story of a Syrian father talking to his son whilst he lays asleep on his lap, on the eve of making the sea crossing to Europe to seek refuge and safety.
The piece is brought to life through the illustrations of Liz Edwards, whilst Akhtar narrates, with the text looking back at the city of Homs where the father grew up, now a devastated war zone, and the dangers that lie ahead as they look to cross the Mediteranian
“I am a father of two. My immediate reaction upon seeing the photo of little Alan’s body lying limp on a Turkish beach – even before I considered the indelible place the picture was bound to hold in the sad lexicon of the Syrian war – was how unimaginably bludgeoning the loss was to his father. I am not, thanks to random good fortune, one of the countless fathers in Syria to have buried a son or daughter. But I know a father’s feral need to protect his children, and writing Sea Prayer, I knew this was my truest entry point,” said Hosseini in a statement.
“As the drownings in the Mediterranean Sea sadly continue, I hope that this collaboration helps keep alive the memory of Alan Kurdi, and that it serves as reminder of the unfathomable desperation that forces families to risk all they have in search of hope and safety on another shore, across the waters. This is a choice that no one, and certainly not a father, makes lightly. We all have an individual duty to let our Governments know that we stand #WithRefugees and that we welcome the urgent expansion of alternative and safe pathways for those in need of international protection.”
To watch Sea Prayer you can watch it online or download the Guardian VR app for Google Cardboard and Daydream.
For the latest VR experiences, keep reading VRFocus.