5-Yr-Old Falls Asleep on Train & Disappears—26 Yrs Later, He Remembers the Map Mom Hung in His Room

When Saroo Brierley got on a train with his brother Guddu at five years old, he never knew that he’d be on a 26-year journey home.

The two brothers boarded a train in their hometown of Ganesh Talai, India. Guddu told Saroo to wait where he was and he’d be back for him soon. So Saroo closed his eyes and went to sleep, awaiting his brother’s return.

The five-year-old woke up the next morning on an empty train. There were no passengers left, and Guddu was nowhere to be found.

Saroo was lost. He didn’t know his family’s name or where he was from, so he was adopted into an Australian family, and given a wonderful life.

But like most adopted children, Saroo always longed to be reunited with his biological family again—especially because he had lived his early years with them—loving them and being loved by them.

Fast forward 26 years.

In 2013, Saroo turned to Google Maps and Google Earth to virtually navigate his hometown. He didn’t know the name of it, but ever since he was a little boy growing up in Australia, his mom had put a map of India on his wall so he’d never forget where he came from.

He started with that map, and the town he’d been adopted from—Calcutta. Using the Google Earth application, Saroo was able to compare his photographic memories to the sights on his computer screen.

Eventually he’d navigated his way from the Calcutta train station backward to a train station that reminded him of the one where he’d last boarded with his brother.

Some called it a needle in a haystack. But Saroo was confident that the map in his head and what he’d found on Google Earth would lead him home again.

His determination paid off.

At 31 years old, Saroo boarded a plane and headed to what he thought to be his hometown: Ganesh Talai. He wandered a bit before coming across three older women.

The one in the middle turned out to be his mother.

It never ceases to amaze me—the insurmountable ways we can use technology in this day and age to connect, unite and discover.

Saroo’s journey home spans nearly three decades, but one thing is certain: When he hugged his mother for the first time, it seemed as though he’d never left.

Though it wasn’t planned, and I can’t imagine the years of heartache his mother went through after losing her son.

Saroo was given incredible opportunities that wouldn’t have been possible had he not fallen asleep on the train that day.

He was able to care for his mother now in ways he never could have—if it weren’t for his Australian family adopting and raising him.

Saroo’s story of courage and perseverance is inspiring. And it’s a reminder of how radically adoption can change a child’s life.

Today, his journey has been made into an award winning film called Lion, which took the red carpet by storm this award season! Nominated for SIX Oscars, FIVE Golden Globes and Winner of a variety of others, Saroo’s journey home is one you don’t want to miss!

Seriously, you HAVE to see this movie. It’s on Netflix NOW! 

Share his journey with someone you love today, and be sure to check out Lion!

Bri Lamm
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Bri is an outgoing introvert with a heart that beats for adventure. She lives to serve the Lord, experience the world, and eat macaroni and cheese in between capturing life’s greatest moments on one of her favorite cameras.