Meet the boy who used technology to find the family he lost 25 years ago

30th Dec 2015
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Sheru Munshi Khan, also known as Saroo Brierley was born in a small village in Madhya Pradesh. Abandoned by their father; Sheru, his sister, and his two elder brothers lived with their mother, who worked as a construction worker. Sheru and his brothers begged at a railway station for food and money. One day his brother went missing at a railway station, and trying to search for him, Sheru boarded the carriage compartment of a train. Unable to leave the locked compartnemt, Sheru reached Howrah, nearly 1,500 kilometres from his hometown. He was only 5-years-old.


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After multiple failed attempts of returning home, Sheru ventured into the city of Kolkata for survival and food. “Anything could have happened to me, the possibilities make my stomach churn. I could have ended up in child-slavery, some gang, been sexually abused,” he told the Hindustan Times.

After numerous narrow escapes, he was taken to a police station and later to a government center for abandoned children. The police failed to locate locate his family and hometown, which Sheru could hardly remember pronounce. He was officially declared a lost child, and subsequently adopted by a family from Australia. He was soon in a new continent, with a new identity. Sheru Munshi Khan, now known as Saroo Brierley, spent the next 25 years of his life in Australia.

Saroo’s past however, continued to bother him. He wanted to meet his mother again. As an adult, he spent hours following the railway lines radiating out from Howrah railway station on Google Earth. Remembering only the letter ‘B’ of the Burhanpur railway station he once begged in. After years of searching, he finally zeroed in on Burhanpur, but didn’t have a way to verify his instincts. Saroo contacted a Facebook group based in Khandwa, the nearest city from the station. The group verified his claims, which reignited his hopes of meeting his family.

When Saroo finally met his mother Kamla Munshi, he realized that his brother had died after the unfortunate turn of events 25 years ago. He was presumed dead too. His surviving brother was now a factory manager, and his sister worked as a teacher in a local school. The mother and her son didn’t share the same language, so they spent their time smiling at each other and nodding. “The happiness in my heart was as deep as the sea,” his mother told the Vanity Fair magazine. Saroo Brierley has written a book A Long Way Home, on his phenomenal journey.

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