A 17-year-old teenager from Sragen, Central Java who was kidnapped when he was a young child has been reunited with his family after 11 years apart, all thanks to Google Maps.
Ervan Wahyu Anjasworo was attending a work training session at a rehabilitation center for juveniles who have had dealings with the law in Cileungsi district, Bogor regency, West Java, in September when he decided to play around with Google Maps to look for a traditional market that his grandmother used to bring him to.
“At first I started to search for Solo [Surakarta, Central Java], then I saw that near Solo, there was Wonogiri, Boyolali and Sragen,” Ervan said on Friday as quoted by kompas.com “I looked at them one by one [on Street View] until I found the Gonggang traditional market in Sragen, which I remembered [from childhood].”
He gave the address of the market and gave it to a social worker at the rehabilitation center who then contacted their counterparts in Surakarta, Wonogiri and other regions in Central Java before contacting the ones in Sragen.
Ervan then received a package of family photos of him when he was younger in Sragen, which he recognized.
“I still remembered the faces of my father, my mother and my siblings,” he said.
The center then contacted social workers in Sragen, who soon picked up Ervan and brought him home.
The reunion marked a happy ending to a tumultuous decade for Ervan, which started when he was separated from his family in Jakarta when he was 5 years old.
He was walking to return a handheld electronic game to a rental place when he encountered a street performer. The performer said that he would escort Ervan back home, but instead kidnapped the child and made him perform along with him.
“I lived on the streets for around two years,” Ervan said.
He said that he was taken to Surakarta for a month before they returned to Jakarta. When they reached Bogor, West Java, the performer fled when he heard the sirens of the local Public Order Agency (Satpol PP), leaving Ervan alone at a mosque.
The local neighborhood unit (RT) head took him in but died a few months after.
“One of his grandchildren wanted to take care of me and took me in as a foster child,” he said. After seven months in the care of the RT head’s grandchild, Ervan was taken in by a social worker from the Bogor Integrated Care Center for the Empowerment of Women and Children (P2TP2A) and was educated at a pesantren (Islamic Boarding School) for eight years before finally being reunited with his family. (ami)