Maegan Kasteler | Nov 9, 2018

3 Interesting Facts about Saroo Brierley

Joining the lineup for RootsTech 2019 is Saroo Brierley. His inspirational story and subsequent autobiography, A Long Way Home, was made into the 2016 Oscar nominated film Lion. Brierley's story of survival and perseverance is sure to inspire listeners.

After being separated from his family in India at age 5, Brierley was adopted by a couple in Australia. Using modern technology and the few memories he retained, Brierley embarked on a journey to find his family, thousands of miles away in India.

Brierley will be gracing the RootsTech stage on Friday, March 1, 2019.

Here are three interesting facts to know about Brierley.

The Movie Lion inspired the charitable movement #LionHeart

While the film about Brierley's life was gaining international success, the social impact campaign #LionHeart took off and inspired action around the world. In India over 11 million children live on the streets. The #LionHeart campaign was created to provide financial support for a few selected nonprofit organizations serving this vulnerable population, all inspired by Brierley's experience on the streets when he was just 5 years old.

Before the credits for Lion start to roll, a simple typeface appears:

"Over 80,000 children go missing in India each year. We are working with extraordinary organizations to support children in India and around the world."

The online campaign quickly raised well over $250,000 and helped bring awareness to other children like Brierley.

Brierley was born "Sheru," not "Saroo"

After reuniting with his mother, Brierley learned that as a 5-year-old he had been mispronouncing his name. Rather than being named "Saroo," his birth name was "Sheru," which, in Hindi, means "lion." While the film based on his life was originally meant to be same title as his book, A Long Way From Home, Lion was soon adopted as the title of the film.

Brierley found his home by searching Google Earth

Brierley's story of finding his family began when he was separated from them at age 5. While out with his brother one night, he fell asleep on a train. When he woke up, the train had left the station. He spent multiple days trapped on the moving train, unable to escape. After surviving on the streets for a time, he was taken to a government center for abandoned children and from there was eventually adopted.

Throughout his life, Brierley had flashbacks of his early years in India. He used these memories as a starting point and then used Google Earth and an estimation of how far he could have traveled on the train to start his search. After months of searching through Google Earth, Brierley found his home—25 years later.

Brierley's search for his family using Google Earth was the subject of international press attention when he reunited with his mother in 2012. His story was also made into an ad for Google Earth that was recognized as "Adweek's Top 10 Commercials of the Week," Forbes "The Most Unforgettable Ad Campaigns of 2013," and Ted's "10 Ads Worth Spreading" in 2014.

The ad now has well over 2 million views on YouTube.


Come hear Brierley discuss his journey using technology to find his family at RootsTech 2019. Register here today!

Maegan Kasteler

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