The VICE Guide to Right Now

How a Facebook Video Helped a Missing Bangladeshi Man Find His Family After 48 Years

78-year-old Habibur Rahman had been missing for more than four decades until his daughter-in-law spotted him in a viral video that finally brought the family together.
20 January 2020, 8:01am
Bangladeshi missing man found through Facebook video after 48 years

48 years ago, a then 30-year-old businessman named Habibur Rahman took off from the Bajgram area in the city of Sylhet in Bangladesh for a business trip. That was the last time Rahman’s family saw him. That is, until now, after his daughter-in-law who is based in the US, recognised the man who had been missing for more than four decades in a viral Facebook video.

The now 78-year-old Rahman was featured in a Medical College hospital video, where a man was urging people to donate money for Rahman to get treatment for his infected arm. When his daughter-in-law chanced upon this video, she noticed the glaring similarities between the man asking for help and her father-in-law who had been separated from the family for years but was still revered and remembered fondly. She shared the video with her husband and his brother, who could confirm that it was indeed their estranged father.

At the time he went missing, Rahman was married with four sons. “I remember that my mother and uncles did everything to find him for years, before finally giving up. Later, my mother passed away in 2000,” Jalal Uddin, one of Rahman’s sons, told PTI.

Rahman was living in Moulvibazar district in Sylhet for the last 25 years, along with a woman named Razia Begum who had taken up the responsibility of looking after him after finding him in a disoriented condition at Hazrat Shahab Uddin shrine in 1995. “He said he used to live a nomadic life. He has been staying with us ever since. We respect him and call him peer (an elder),” she said.

She revealed that while he was already suffering from age-related complications for the last decade, a nasty fall had injured his right hand, after which it got infected and needed immediate surgery. Since Begum did not have enough money to pay for this operation, they contacted a crowdfunding service to help them raise money, eventually leading Rahman’s family back to him.

Rahman’s grandson Kefayat Ahmed, who had heard all about his grandfather but never imagined he would be able to meet him, excitedly said, “Today, the wait is over and I am very happy.”

While there’s a lot to be said about the pitfalls and perils of Instagram and Facebook, this touching story is one of those rare ones that show how social media can actually connect people across the world in a meaningful way and bring them together.

Follow Shamani Joshi on Instagram.