Remember when Google Earth Street View first becomes a hit in the Philippines? We are all so amazed to see the street view of the place where we live in and even amazed to see even the façade of our house. But aside from giving us an accurate direction of a certain place, did you know that this amazing technological advancement could also lead an orphan back home?
This is the inspiring story of Saroo Brierley who became away from his family for more than two decades but found his way back home through the help of GoogleEarth.
Saroo hailed in Hanesh Talai, a suburb within Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh in India and was originally born as Sheru Munshi Khan. Due to poverty, Saroo and his siblings were forced to beg for money and food at the railway station near their home.
One day, at the age of 5, Saroo and his older brother Guddu suddenly decided to ride the train from Khandwa going t the city of Barhanpur, Saroo joined him without knowing that this day will actually be the start of his journey.
As soon as they arrived in Burhanpur, Saroo collapsed due to over fatigue. Guddu left him in a seat on the platform and promised to come back but he did not return, Saroo then found himself hopping on an empty train thinking his brother was inside, he then falls asleep inside the empty carriage thinking that his brother will come back soon and wake him up.
But Saroo woke up in an unfamiliar place without his brother, for a week or two; Saroo lived in Howrah railway station and managed to survive by scavenging scraps of food. Eventually, concerned citizens turned him over to the police who declared him as a lost child and later on transferred to a government center for abandoned children.
There Saroo found his new family after he was adopted by the Brierleys, an Australian family from Hobart, Tasmania.
Growing up, Saroo’s foster mother would place a map of India near his bedside to remind him that he has a family waiting for him back home. Saroo had lived a good life with the Brierley’s, they sent him to school and was able to study business and hospitality at Australian International Hotel School in Canberra.
As an adult, Saroo would always find himself spending hours in front of the computer and searching satellite images on Google Earth to locate his home and family in India. He would often follow the path of railways from Howrah station and only relied on his vague memories of a station that starts with the letter B.
One night while doing his routine research using Google Earth, Saroo saw a small railway station which images resemble some of his childhood memory and the station’s name is Burhanpur, pretty close to his vague recollection.
He followed the satellite images and eventually found the town of Khandwa where he saw more familiar places including the fountain near the train tracks where he used to play. After years of tedious research, Saroo was able to locate the street which appears to be his home two decades ago.
In 2012, Saroo bravely traveled all the way to Khandwa and asked the members of the community if they know a family who lost their son 25 years ago, he also showed them photos of himself as a child and eventually led him to his mother.
Watch the video below: