This profile was prepared when Eaklak Loomchomkhae was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2013.
The New Idea
Finding that Thailand has no functioning system to recover missing persons, Eaklak believes that the best approach to pool limited resources is to create widespread public participation. He is developing a national network of online volunteers who contribute to the search for missing persons through diverse forms of financial and in-kind assistance—from donating advertisement space in local newspapers to providing immediate transportation to retrieve missing persons in specific neighborhoods. He is creating public support networks customized to diverse kinds of missing persons, including abducted children, labor trafficking victims, and elderly people with Alzheimer’s disease. Eaklak is using this crowdsourcing model to also alter the understanding of law enforcement agencies that the problem of missing persons is not a private family matter but a pressing public concern. He has set up the first national database of missing persons for the Royal Thai Police and has initiated training programs for police officials on recovering missing persons, emphasizing the role of affected families and local communities to contribute information and social capital. Eaklak is redefining the dynamic of missing person searches, from passive reliance on government assistance to active leadership by affected families and society at-large.