“During the lockdown, I saw many kids in my village watching TikTok videos all the time. Out of curiosity, I downloaded it a couple of days after I went to my village as everything was shut down in Hyderabad. During a stroll one evening, I saw an old man sleeping on the road. I had heard stories about how he’s been in our village for more than 10 years. Everybody said he was mentally challenged. When I saw him lying down without any safety, I felt bad. I walked upto him and tried to talk. He was quiet initially, but soon, he opened up. I could sense that he didn’t have an idea of his own background. He told me many people made him work, but nobody paid him. He also told me that he was from Bijnepalli mandal. It was upsetting for me to see his state of being.
I knew a few friends who had connections in his mandal. So I recorded a video of him talking and decided to upload it on TikTok. The next day, I got a comment on the video saying it was that user’s uncle and they want to meet him. So, I shared my number. When they called me, I didn’t want to disclose all the information before confirming that it was truly his family.
They said they looked for him for years after he went missing and thought he had died as he had mental health issues. I took two days to verify his identity through other sources like the police and local politicians. The man, who we learnt is named Chandru, recognised his mother and his wife from photos. That’s when I decided to call his family and reunite them. When the family arrived, many villagers gathered as if it was a wedding ceremony. Everybody knew Chandru as a man who sleeps on the road and does petty work for food. So when the news spread, everybody was there to witness this reunion of the family. It was emotional to watch them meet and tear up. When I uploaded the video, I never thought that TikTok would reunite this poor man with his family.
Everybody in the village was praising me for my good work, but it was more than that for me. Chandru will now have a roof over his head and a family to take good care of him. He’s finally home!”
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