Today we reach Day 12, and the last in this series of posts that mark the time that Gaia was missing in 2017. I sincerely hope that through these posts you have developed some understanding of who Gaia was, if like me you never had the chance to meet her, or that they’ve reminded you of good times if you did.
I’ve had the privilege of talking with Gaia’s immediate family members, of listening to their memories, and seeing their photos of family life. These conversations are so bittersweet. One of the aims of this series of blog posts was to raise visibility of Gaia as a person. To this end Maya, her twin sister, has created a Pinterest board which is a treasure chest of photos and images that you can visit here.
It was clear through all my conversations about Gaia, that in her far too short life she made a difference. It is this need to make a difference and improve things for others, that underpins her family campaign, JusticeforGaia.
Most family campaigns for justice I know of have at their core a common focus, usually the person who has died, in this case Gaia, and a need to improve things for others who find themselves in similar circumstances.
They also almost always have one family member who is driving the campaign forward. JusticeforGaia is very much a family endeavour, but much of the action is as a result of the input of Gaia’s cousin Marienna Pope-Weidemann.
Today JusticeforGaia launch Gaia’s Guide, produced by Marienna. Gaia’s Guide provides step-by-step guidance to support and mobilise a community response when someone goes missing, covering everything from how to organise a search, to engaging with the press and police.
Someone is reported missing in the UK every 90 seconds, 180,000 people a year and rising. The potential beneficiaries and impact of Gaia’s Guide is enormous.
Maya, Gaia’s twin sister explained what it was like for her when Gaia went missing:
‘When Gaia went missing I didn’t know what to do, none of us knew what to do… we knew with public backing and attention the police would have to do something but I didn’t know how to get the word out. If it wasn’t for Marienna and all the volunteers I think we’d still be searching.
We want to offer the guide so families know what to do because when someone you love disappears it’s hard to even think straight. Hopefully Gaia’s Guide will help’.
When I first read Gaia’s Guide I was struck by the amount of time and effort that had clearly gone into it, but also of its practical value. I can imagine people desperately searching for advice, coming across it and the temporary relief they would undoubtedly feel as they had something to hold on to, to guide them and help them to organise themselves to take action. I feel sure that Gaia’s Guide will help save lives, which is quite some legacy.
‘Gaia’s Guide has been a labour of love for her. Though in cases like Gaia’s community action can be the difference between life and death, shockingly there are no national police procedures informing families what they can expect. That needs to change.
Meanwhile, going back over what happened hasn’t been easy but it’s worth it if Gaia’s Guide can help other families through that nightmare and bring even one missing person to safety’.
I’ll finish with something that Maya said to me in one of my conversations with her. We were talking about spirituality, quantum physics, electrons, photons and stuff, I say we were talking, Maya was educating me (I know nothing of this stuff), she said this, which seems a fitting place to end this series of posts:
‘I don’t believe in heaven or that stuff… but I believe there’s something about soul, that your energy lives on, that Gaia’s energy lives on’.