A 25-year-old Thai illiterate man, who used Google's audio search function to look for his long-lost family, finally reunited with his father on Tuesday.
The man, identified only as Aum, who had run away from home 15 years ago, met his father Boontham (last name withheld) at a press conference at the Metropolitan Police Bureau's Children and Women Protection Sub-Division in Bangkok.
A tearful Aum hugged his father, 54, and apologised for running away. Aum recalled that he was invited by friends to get on a bus and ended up becoming a street beggar in Sanam Luang until he grew older and became a scavenger. His desire to return to his own family was kindled when, six years ago, he went on a train with a friend to Prachuap Khiri Khan to work a daily labour job. The friend, however, left one day to go back to his family. “I went to the police to seek their help in finding my family, but they thought I was lying because I had no document,” he said.
Although he couldn’t read or write, he knew how to use the computer because of online gaming, so he used Google’s audio search to type his nickname and the world “missing child” in Thai to find any announcements looking for him. Instead, he found the Facebook page of Mirror Foundation’s Missing Person Centre so he audio-typed information to ask for help.
Ailing former bus driver Boontham recalled that he had looked for Aum for long but couldn’t find him so he was now overjoyed to be reunited with his son yesterday.
Sub-division deputy superintendent Pol Lt-Colonel Patisart Srimontha said police was contacted by the foundation to help locate Aum’s family in a community of Bang Sue district based on the man’s vague memories of his childhood. The police sent personnel on foot to gather information until they could locate Aum’s father.
Foundation centre chief Ekkalak Lumchomkae said Aum, who contacted the centre early this month, could not remember his proper full name or family information. He only knew his nickname Aum, his father’s name, Boontham and mother’s name Maew, and his home whereabouts in a railway-side community with a market in the back. The centre got in touch with Aum and launched a search for his family until it was narrowed down to a community near Sri Khamao market in Bang Sue. The centre asked for the sub-division police’s help to locate Aum’s father.
Ekkalak said Aum’s story offered hope to many families who still hoped their runaway kids would return.
Institute of Forensic Medicine official Pol Colonel Wathi Asawut said DNA test results had confirmed that Aum and Boontham were blood relatives.
He also invited people to attend the "DNA Pro Kids " scheme at the Police General Hospital that collected free of charge DNA samples of parents whose children had gone missing. In cases where an unidentified child was found after being kidnapped or lured away, police could check his/her DNA from the database to locate the parents, he added.