Into the Lion’s den: Santa Maria College student says meeting Saroo Brierley ‘inspiring’


Ella Douglas, Sinead Smithies, Skyla Pengilly, Saroo Brierley, Tia Kenny, Grace Ritchie and Iysha O’Meara.
Ella Douglas, Sinead Smithies, Skyla Pengilly, Saroo Brierley, Tia Kenny, Grace Ritchie and Iysha O’Meara.

A SANTA Maria College student who had the chance to meet Saroo Brierley, the man whose search for his mother was retold in a Hollywood film, says she was “inspired” by the experience.

In 1986, Brierley, just five years old, fell asleep on a train and found himself lost in a strange city with no way to get home.

He survived for weeks on the streets before being placed in an orphanage and was later adopted by Tasmanian couple Sue and John Brierley.

With the help of Google Earth and childhood memories, he spent years painstakingly searching satellite images for his hometown and his biological mother, who he was reunited with after 25 years.

Brierley’s journey from the streets of Kolkata to his adopted family in Australia and his mission to find his birth mother was retold in his autobiography A Long Way Home, inspiring the 2016 film Lion starring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman.

Brierley shared his incredible story as the keynote speaker for the 2017 MercyCare Oration in Perth on September 21.

Santa Maria students Ella Douglas, Iysha O’Meara, Sinead Smithies, Skyla Pengilly, Grace Ritchie and Tia Kenny won a school photography competition for the opportunity to meet and speak with Brierley during his visit.

“Listening to Saroo’s journey I was so inspired by his courage and determination to keep going on a nearly impossible mission,” Ella said.

“I found it interesting how the first five years of his life in India had such an impact and affected his personal development, as if something was missing from his life.

“When he found his family and village, he was fulfilled and now has a full understanding of his personal identity.”

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