On my way to work, I often see posters advertising missing people from around the area. It can be easy to forget, sometimes, that behind the photo is a family full of worry and concern. Looking past the poster often reveals a family life perhaps not too dissimilar to yours.
Anton Pilipa, 39, lived and worked in Vancouver, Canada, as a humanitarian worker. In 2012, he disappeared without saying a word to his family. For five years, his family didn’t hear a word about his whereabouts. Furthermore, Anton only took the clothes on his back, so had no passport or form of identification.
Miraculously, Anton Pilipa was found alive and well five years later, 6,500km away from his home in Vancouver, Canada. Over five years, Anton travelled through ten countries with zero possessions. His brother, Stefan Pilipa, set up a GoFundMe account to return Anton back to his hometown, and thankfully the Canadian backpacker has now been reunited with his family.
Anton Pilipa was described as “a long time anti-poverty activist and member of radical communities in Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto” before his disappearance in 2012, after a “prolonged struggle with mental health illness.”
He did not speak to his family for five years, and they believed him to be dead. His brother, Stefan, told The Daily Mail that: “I told myself that he was dead. Because that was the only thing I could come up with that explained his absences.”
Anton reportedly travelled through ten countries over five years including the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil. Somehow, he managed to travel without a passport. He would also sneak onto lorries to travel around, as well as going on foot. Anton would also eat fruit found on the street in order to survive. Anton’s final destination was originally the National Library of Buenos Aires in Argentina, but was turned away as he had no ID.
Thankfully, a Canadian-born Brazilian police officer, Helenice Campos, found him wandering the streets of Manaus, Brazil in November, and took him to a local hospital. Although he fled the hospital, authorities and embassies were aware of his existence and he was eventually reunited with his family.
His family were understandably overjoyed. To ensure Anton’s safe return, his brother set up a GoFundMe account, which raised over $12,000. Anton is now back in Vancouver, and living with his brother, Stefan. However, Anton was arrested in 2011 for assault and weapons offences, and was due to appear in court. Now that he has returned to Vancouver, Anton has been arrested for his outstanding charges, but was released on bail according to CBC.
Anton Pilipa said very few words when he spoke to BBC Brazil: “I’ve never felt alone. It’s been a lot of thinking for years, sleeping in the open. It’s very simple to live, we do not need many things.” In an age where technology and smartphones are seemingly integral to living, it refreshing to hear Anton’s words.
Anton also stated: “I know that I am very lucky to be alive, to have heard me to be found, and I am very happy to be able to return to my family.” After five years away from home, and suffering from schizophrenia without medication, I can imagine that Anton’s family are incredibly relieved to hear that he is alive.
Source: Viral Thread