Two Tamil Nadu-based brothers received an unexpected Valentine’s Day gift, reuniting with their long-lost mother after 28 years. Manju Begum Shaikh went missing from her home in Tamil Nadu’s Thiruvannamalai district in 1993 after her mental ailment deteriorated and was found wandering near the municipal head-office in Panvel in June 2012. 

She was finally reunited with her family at the New Panvel-based Social and Evangelical Association for Love (SEAL) shelter on Wednesday, Times of India reported. 

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After he was found wandering aimlessly in Panvel, the SEAL shelter took her in, where she was “counselled and given psychiatric treatment” Pastor KM Philip, founder of SEAL, said, adding that her survival in the streets for such a long time was miraculous. 

“Due to the psychiatric treatment, Manju Begum had shown signs of improvement, and she would often go to Pastor Philip and say that she wants to go home to her family,” S Jainamma, a worker at SEAL, said. 

“She also recalled that her house is in Chepet, which is in Thiruvannamalai district. We then contacted the Aruni taluk police station, where a lady police official helped us locate her husband, Nasir Shaikh and two sons, Babu and Salim Shaikh,” she added. 

Her younger son, 28-year-old Salim, said he was only three-months-old when his mother went missing and that his elder brother was around two-years-old. 

“Over the years, I used to sometimes wonder where my mother is, hence we thank the SEAL workers for reuniting us. I am very happy,” he said. 

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Manju Begum’s brother Mustafa, who was 18-years-old when she went missing, was overwhelmed with emotions when meeting her at the SEAL shelter and broke down.

Over the last two decades, the shelter has reunited over 400 lost people with their families. Pastor Philip said his organisation has called for the government to set up helpline numbers for citizens to call if they encounter lost or missing persons.

“A countless number of people get lost in the cities due to mental problems, which are actually curable. Their family members often search for them for years. Everyone must show love and compassion for the homeless,” he said.