A baby boy who went missing Thursday amid the carnage in Nice, France, was reunited with his family the next day after Facebook posts appealing for help in finding him went viral.
Friends of the infant’s mom turned to the social network in the aftermath of Thursday’s Bastille Day attack, which killed at least 84 people after a man identified as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel drove a truck into a packed crowd.
“If you see this child: CONTACT ME,” one of the women, Yohlaine Ramasitera, posted alongside an image of herself with the unnamed youngster. She also stated the boy, aged between 8 and 10 months, had been sat inside a blue stroller.
Rebecca Boulanger, a friend of Ramasitera and a pastor at Nice’s Christian Victory Center, was at home with her husband Philippe and their 18-month-old daughter when she spotted the Facebook post.
She shared the item ― which read, “VERY IMPORTANT: in the rush of things with shots being fired some friends of our friends lost their baby boy!!!” ― and it spread quickly.
“I couldn’t do much because I was at home with my own baby,” Boulanger, 30, told The Huffington Post on Friday. “But because I’m a pastor and I grew up in Nice, I decided to use my large social network to help.”
With the missing boy’s family members frantically searching for the boy and Boulanger monitoring social media, she received news around two hours later that he’d been taken in by a woman and was safe and sound.
“I was very relieved,” Boulanger told HuffPost, although she added that she held off from posting the news to Facebook “until he was back in family’s arms.” “I didn’t want to give false hope.”
Boulanger said an unidentified woman had taken the unattended youngster back to her home for safety. “She then went online and found the photo of the baby on Facebook,” another friend of the family told AFP. His relatives were able to go and collect him.
The pastor described the turn of events as “a miracle” and hailed the power of social media in helping reunite the boy with his family. “Social media has been used for a lot of bad things as well,” she said, “but I really believe that technology can be good and used to share hope and to encourage people during this very traumatic time.”
Boulanger added that her community was “in shock” in the wake of the mass killing.
“They’ve seen things, whether it’s bodies or people running away,” she said, adding that friends of hers who did not attend the celebrations say they “feel saved.”
Boulanger offered a message for everyone affected by this week’s attack, and by the others that have plagued France in recent years.
“It’s in the darkest hour that our light must shine brighter,” she said. “As followers of Jesus, we need to make sure that people are reminded that love wins and that if we give into fear and give into hatred then it’s not going to help anyone. Hatred will only breed more hatred and that’s not what this country needs.”
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