‘Helping Faceless’ a mobile app started in 2013 that aims to connect lost children with their parents.
The idea is the brainchild of Shashank Singh who was almost kidnapped at a very young age. The kidnapping wasn’t successful because of an active bystander and Shashank’s intervention. But not every child is as lucky as Shashank.
The app uses face recognition software that matches a photo uploaded by you with a database. The database has been created from various resources like the police, NGOs, etc. In this way, the government and NGOs are able to locate the families and unite them.
You take several photos every day. Now you can take photos for a cause. You see so many kids around you on the streets. You simply have to take photos of these kids by using our app and they will automatically get uploaded in our system,” says Amol Gupta, co-founder of Helping Faceless.
How does it work?
You need to login with your Facebook account to access the app. Once you have access, either you can click a new picture of the child you came across or you can match the kid with the already existing photos in the application.
The app gives you three options, ‘Yes’, ‘No’, and ‘Can’t Say’. If you think that it’s the same child in the photo, click ‘Yes’ and the information will be transfered to the main source that will instigate the investigation.
“The more people use it, the better will be the chances to identify the kids,” says Gupta. ‘Helping Faceless’ has also come up with a WhatsApp group where people can share the information about the kids along with their photos.
The app works under a main team of four and 100s of volunteers.
To make it easier, you can also upload the picture of a lost kid on their Facebook page and from there, the ‘Helping Faceless’ team will take over and upload the pictures in the database.
“Since many people might not be interested in downloading the app or might not have a phone that supports it, they can use Facebook to upload photos of the missing kids. Our volunteers will take the authentic photos from there and upload it on the app,” says Shashank.
Their success story:
Thanks to ‘Helping Faces’, a kid was saved from living a street life:
Our volunteer saw a kid sleeping near the railway track and he looked weak and hungry. She clicked his photo and shared it with me. We immediately contacted the police for an intervention and when we met him, we found out that his family stayed nearby. He had told them that he was going to attend school but had run away from his home instead,” recalls Shashank.
They approached the kid and found out that he had run away from home. His home was in a nearby locality, they searched for his parents, counselled them and paid a few more visits to make sure the kid is safe.
It’s not that easy to make a difference, but more people contributing to it will help to shape some lives in a better way.
The app has been downloaded by almost 5,000 users but due to less contributors it becomes difficult to make new photographs available. Obviously, it will only be by partnering with more NGOs and asking more people to contribute that ‘Helping Faceless’ will become more effective.
They dream of making ‘Helping Faceless’ huge. They want to take this app to other countries and track the patterns. This will definitely help in tackling human trafficking.
“If we get a good database, we will be able to trace where most of the kids come from, where do they go, what do they do, etc. Tracking the pattern in which kids go missing will make later searches easy,” says Gupta.
We often come across small children roaming around begging for food and money, selling flowers and balloons. There are thousands of children who get separated from their families. There is very little that we can imagine about their pain. Life on the streets is difficult and it is us who can save one more life from living in that hell.