A new ad (video below) for Google Earth has gone viral, thanks to the emotional and heartwarming story of Saroo Brierley, who used the app to find his family 25 years after he was separated from them. Then a five-year-old boy in India, Brierley was lost after accidentally boarding a runaway train. He ended up being adopted by a family in Australia.
But for 25 years, he was intent on finding the family he inadvertently left behind. Brierley acknowledges that it was exactly like searching for a needle in hay stack, but that he knew that the needle was at least there. Armed with nothing other than the memories his five-year-old self harvested of home, Brierley fruitlessly searched. And searched. And searched.
Years passed. And then, a breakthrough: Google Earth. Using the app, Brierley searched. outward and around from the Calcultta train station where he was discovered as a boy. He spent countless hours using the technology to tour the streets of India, relying on his memory to find his home. With persistence and dedication, he eventually found it and was reunited with his mother and siblings–all thanks to Google Earth.
The Google Earth ad isn’t the first time Brierley’s told his story; in fact, he wrote all about it in his book, “A Long Way From Home.” But whether you’ve already heard the story, or are being introduced to it for the first time in the following video, there’s no denying that it packs emotional punch. After all, what are the odds that a boy an ocean away from home would ever be reunited his family? Probably the same as finding a needle in a haystack.