The Man Who Uses Software To Help Lost Children – #WATWB
As we walk through the gullies and numerous lanes of the busy cities in India we come across so many little street children begging for food or money. Some do not have an arm, some are in crutches and yet others are blind. Many of these children are kidnapped and brought from other states by the beggar mafia and forced to beg, some have run away from their homes and some others have been abandoned by their parents.
Whenever I come across such street children, I tend to remember a talk show about crime that I had watched with my wife some time back in a Malayalam channel in TV. There were several participants in the show including some who had themselves been victims of crime, some who had lost their children to kidnappers and yet others whose kith and kin had been murdered. There were also a few police officials participating in the show including a deputy commissioner from the crime branch of Kerala police.
The show was conducted in Malayalam but I did not have any problems in understanding what was being said. Though my ability to speak Malayalam is rather limited, I can understand the language reasonably well. The show was moderated by a host who conducted it very well. At one point in the show, a man burst into tears and narrated the tale of how his 9 year old handicapped son had been kidnapped five years back and the police were still clueless about his whereabouts.
The commissioner of police pacified him and pointed out that the police do their best but they are handicapped by the reluctance of the public to render help due to the fear of criminals. My wife immediately remarked: “I think it must have been these dastardly beggar mafia people. They generally prey on handicapped children, kidnap them and make a fortune by forcing them into a life of begging.”
I agreed with her but the commissioner’s words about the common public refusing to render help to victims of crime struck a chord in me. I would like to introduce you to a man who has developed a mobile application to help unite street children with their families. The mobile application is called Helping Faceless and the man’s name is Shashank Singh.
A bit about the man himself. First of all I would like to mention the reason that motivated him to create this app. There was a terrible incident in Shashank’s childhood when he almost ended up being kidnapped. The timely intervention of a watchful bystander prevented anything untoward happening and Shashank was saved.
Shashank never forgot this terrible incident and together with co-founder Amol Gupta came up with this app and organization. Here is a link to a page giving details of Shashank’s heart warming endeavor. You can also find a link to download the app here.
The above link will tell you in detail about the story of Shashank’s app. Here is a direct link for downloading the app.
Here are some details about the app. The app is based on face recognition software. They have a database of lost children created from contributions from the police database and several NGOs. You will need to login with your Facebook login details. What you need to do is to open the app, login and just click photographs of any street children you come across using the app.
The app automatically uploads the photos you click and a team works on figuring out if the child’s family can be located. You are also given the option to answer some questions regarding the images you click. You are offered a choice of images from the DB and you can pass opinions on whether the child looks like any of the images that are presented. To avoid spamming, a team of 4 people work constantly. Here is the link to the website of Helping Faceless.
And here is the link to their Facebook page.
There are several difficulties faced by the team. One thing is to build a wide ranging database of as many lost children as possible. Another problem as Shashank says is the difficulty involved in getting people to take a genuine interest and download the app and put in some effort. A team of 100 volunteers is working to get people to take an interest in this application.
To me, having worked in the software industry for 28 years Shashank’s effort really warms the heart. I work under high pressure to create software for rich people to make them richer. Here is a man who has put technology to use for a noble cause. Kudos to him !