Best encounters occur by chance. This summer I had an opportunity to reaffirm this belief. I randomly met a person in Washington D.C. that turned out to be a major motivation for me. I decided to share his story with you.
Dmitry Kem, 24 (Moscow, Russia) has always been passionate about the outdoors. Through his involvement in rock climbing and caving, he learned about the dozens that go missing every year in forests and mountains. Seeking ways to help those that go missing, Dmitry discovered more about the plight of missing children in Russia. He has combined his love of the outdoors and his passion for engineering to track down thousands of lost and missing children in Russia.
Hoping to learn more about promoting safety for outdoorsmen, Dmitry joined an association of volunteers called Search for Missing Children after graduation. It was here that he initially learned about the 6,000 children that go missing in Russia annually, and decided to expand his efforts to help these children. While working at Search for Missing Children, he helped find over 3,000 children and over 600 adults. As a volunteer, he also conducted open workshops and first aid and personal safety trainings at schools.
Dmitry felt that more could be done to help. As a computer engineer and software developer by education, Dmitry created a website called poiskdetei.ru (which translates to “Child Search”) that coordinates the work of over 50 organizations looking for missing children. Later on, he developed a pilot model of an online platform that allows for both search coordination and location tracking. The developed system includes a parent tracking option that allows parents to mark the location of a child.
Still unsatisfied with progress being made in this field, Dmitry organized a fundraising run across Russia and Belarus to further promote awareness on missing children. The fundraising run covered a total distance of 6,000 miles. Last month, he arrived in the United States to further promote the plight of missing persons in Russia through a second fundraising run. He started in New York and is planning to run across the United States to California. Dmitry says that in the beginning, very few people believed in the success of the fundraising run, but he hopes to change hearts and minds during his time in the United States.
The fundraiser run will be used to cover the cost of finishing and perfecting the website platform that Dmitry developed. In the past, he has used his own funds and time to develop the software. Dmitry hopes that after the platform launches, the cases of missing children will substantially decrease.