I struggle with these questions in defining the scope of the project. The one thing I've learned in the search for Joe and for answers about Joe's disappearance is that people disappear everywhere and the resources and attention applied to finding them are woefully limited. I remember talking to a lady who runs a water taxi service in Belize (one of the hundreds of calls I made into the region just to get a sense as to whether people were aware of and alert to Joe's situation). The woman recognized my last name from the radio and from the flyers she had seen and immediately said (in much better English than my high school Spanish): "I am feeling so sorry for you and your family. I lost my son the same way."
Likewise, I've learned about the National Center for Missing Adults
, which soldiers on to find missing people here in the U.S., despite having long ago lost its federal funding. I learned about organizations like the Down East Emergency Medicine Institute
and Volunteer Image Analysts for Search and Rescue
, plugging away in relative obscurity to assist families like mine wherever they find them, here or abroad.
So, why confine this project's efforts to Americans missing in foreign lands? All I can say is, you have to start somewhere. If we can create the resources for rapid search-and-rescue response in, say, Central America, how much easier it will be for us to work with authorities and organizations in the region to apply those resources to finding locals, too. If we can crack through U.S. government inertia and indifference to the plight of families who lose people outside our borders, we can help groups that are pushing for greater attention to missing persons here at home.
I'm one person, and the fact that I can't do everything is no excuse for not doing something. But I feel certain that that something will create other capabilities and resources that can be applied in ways I'm not thinking about at the moment.