It was on June 1 this year that Karu,12, from Bihar was found loitering in Thiruvananthapuram railway station by a Don Bosco staff member. On enquiry, it was found that Karu had disembarked at Warangal to collect water and missed the train. Karu, in confusion, boarded a train headed for Thiruvananthapuram. After a search for 10 days, volunteers from Don Bosco located the boy and handed him over to his parents.
This happy ending would not have been possible but for a website - www.missingchildsearch.net. To track a missing child, the website uses a software called Homelink. In Karu’s case, the team transferred the details to the coordinator of Missing Child Node centre of Homelink ( HLK) and Missing Child Search website to trace his family.
According to Fr Thomas Padinjaril, director, Homelink, it was Arjun and Chunni Devi, Karu’s parents, who lodged a missing child complaint with a local body, which in turn uploaded the details on the website. “There was a match between what was thus uploaded and what Don Bosco volunteers posted on the ‘missingchildsearch’,” he said.
The child was rescued on June 10 and produced before the Child Welfare Committee in the state capital. His parents came down to Don Bosco Nivas, Thiruvananthapuram, with all documents and the boy was handed over to his parents as per the direction of the CWC chairman.
So far, this particular site has helped various child care institutions across the country to trace 51,692 missing children. “In Kerala, about 1,212 children have been handed over to their parents, including 187 girls. About 200 institutions across the country are part of this network spanning 13 states and two Union Territories,” he said.
Aisha from Kozhikode who got back her 10-year-old son with the help of the site said, “I lodged a missing complaint with the local police station. After one day I received a call from them stating that the Karnataka police had found my boy there. I did not have to encounter any complications other than meeting the travelling expense to Karnataka.”
However, more missing children could have been traced if this site was linked to various agencies, including police stations, as in other states.
C K Raghavanunni, Joint Director, Directorate of Social Welfare, said that they are helpless in giving more help to the site other than funding it. “More measures could be taken only with the implementation of the Integration Child Protection Scheme(ICPC) for Child Protection. We could initiate measures based on that,” he said.
M K Muneer, Minister for Social Welfare, said the site has helped many people and its services will be made available soon.