No… not the TV series, but rather an observation on a number of advertisements and notices recently which have touched on the subject of being lost. The topic of missing people is not one that tends to be forefront in people’s thoughts. It is all too easy to walk past a poster with an anonymous face on it, and some basic details describing a person who is reported as lost, and you carry on without reaction. The feeling of loss is one that is highlighted in extremes – either it does not touch you, or it strikes deep to your heart.
With this in mind it is interesting to see advertisements appearing for ITAKA (Centrum Poszukiwań Ludzi Zaginionych). In the television sopts, it shows a middle aged woman walking around in a night scene with many people around. She has a picture in her hand which shows an image of a young boy. The pain can be seen on her face, but there is also that spark of hope, as she scans the crowds to look for someone that may have the same features as the boy in the picture. An interesting point is how the camera focuses on many young men in the scene, between the ages of 18 and 25, giving the impression that the boy she is looking for has been lost for some time. But of course, when someone loses a loved one, they will never lose that touch of hope, wishing that some good news can come back.
The organisation ITAKA is then promoting their website through this advertising to promote the awareness of the work they are doing to trace missing persons, and when you go to the website, you can find an online database of registered missing persons. It is also interesting that the organisation is called ITAKA, with that also being the Polish exonym for the Greek island of Ithaca. The island is famous for being referenced in Homer’s Odyssey. It can be seen as possibly being ironic, but the search for a missing person can be an odyssey for those involved, when years can pass with no information forthcoming.
With 1123 people listed in total on the site, it feels like a work in progress, considering the population of Poland (approx. 38 million), but not all missing persons might be currently tracked. Thus, it makes sense for some advertising aiming to publicise a topic which probably does not get enough coverage. The website is also available in 15 languages, which would make it accessible to most Europeans. This also ties in with a noticeable trend in the lists of those missing. A quite large (minority) percentage appear to be Polish people who are missing abroad. Looking at one page of 30 results as a sample set, I could find 5 examples of Poles missing abroad, in locations such as Peterborough and London in the UK, Dortmund in Germany, Helmond in Holland and even someone in Peru. It makes for some sad reading, considering most of those were a long way from their families in the first place and then went missing.
There is also another campaign currently running which approaches a similar topic but from a different perspective. Zaginał Dom features a different approach. Admittedly they are advertising animals looking to be adopted, or that have ‘lost’ their home, and are looking for new ones. This organisation also features in television advertisements on Polish television. As there are animals involved as opposed to people, naturally the approach is a little more light-hearted. The main approach indeed is that homes have gone missing, due to no fault of the animals, and that they are appealing to the public to help them find homes. While they have different approaches, it is interesting to see the reactions that people would have to the advertisements and which would hit home more strongly with those that view them.
So, the next time you walk past a poster with Zaginał splashed across it, consider how it might not have much relevance for you, but there will be people out there for whom that page is maybe the last chance before the candle burns out on their wishes.