A supermarket chain in Turkey has, for the first time, started printing the faces of missing children on the millions of plastic grocery bags it hands out each month. Similar ways of finding missing people have previously been tried in the US and other countries.
Some 14,000 children vanished in Turkey during the last five years. Eight hundred have still not been found.
General Servet Yoruk, a former gendarmerie commander, said earlier this year that some are kidnapped by people who want to sell their organs, enslave them for work or indoctrinate them into terrorist networks.
Cemal Ozen, CEO of Onur Supermarkets explained more about the plastic bag project:
“Plastic bags enter every house. By printing the photos of children, we have two aims: to raise awareness and prevent children from going missing, and to find the [missing] children.”
Cevher and Hesna Kupsi’s six-year-old son Bayram went missing in Istanbul more than seven years ago.
Bayram’s father Cevher Kupsi said he feels positive about the plastic bag project, “Because three million plastic bags are printed per month. That means three million photos.”
“I wake up in the mornings, I always wait for him,” said Bayram’s mother Hesna Kupsi. “When the doorbell rings, I think of hearing his voice. That’s my hope. For example, when I go somewhere, I assume that he will show up on the streets. That I will see him in the supermarket or on the street. That’s what I am like all the time,” she adds, fighting back tears.
The grocery bag campaign is the brainchild of Zafer Ozbilici, director of the Association of Families Whose Relatives Went Missing.
A few times a week he drives around in a van called the ‘bus of hope’ emblazoned with the photos of missing children. Under their faces is the message, “If you see me, let my mother know.”