A new Belgian two-euro coin is giving missing children and their families hope
By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez and Coinweek Staff Reports …….
The new circulating commemorative coin, issued by the Royal Mint of Belgium, was launched on May 25, which is International Missing Children’s Day. The Belgian two-euro coin features the face of a young child named Liam Vanden Branden on the obverse, who went missing on May 3, 1996 at the age of two.
The coin issue is as much a symbolic gesture as it is an actual “Missing Child” notification, but it is intended to circulate in regular commerce. The public is encouraged to take photos of the cash transactions and include the hashtag #CoinsOfHope, which is the name of the commemorative series under which the coin is being produced.
The Belgian two-euro coin is also designed to put a face on the global problem of missing children, many of whom are victims of human trafficking.
“This [coin initiative] is absolutely about Liam, but he has become a face for a much larger challenge,” says Lincoln Bjorkman, Chief Operating Officer of Wunderman Global, an internationally-known marketing company based in New York City that is helping facilitate the Coins of Hope program.
According to Wunderman Executive Creative Director Samuel de Volder, Liam was chosen for the coin because he is “the youngest child who has been missing for such a long time.”
The Coins of Hope program is a project coordinated between the Belgian National Bank and European organization Child Focus. Supporters have spent the last two years working on the approval process with the Belgian Ministry of Finance and appropriate governing authorities throughout Europe.
“We had to convince the [Belgian] Royal Mint, the European Union, 19 separate European member states, and, last but not least, our King Philippe, who had to abdicate his place and face on the 2-Euro coin,” de Volder adds.
King Philippe, who ascended to the Belgian throne in 2013 following the abdication of Albert II, will continue appearing on the obverse of other circulating Belgian Euro coins, on which the nation’s monarchs ordinarily appear. Presumably, King Philippe’s willingness to permit Liam’s face to appear on the two-euro coin is an acknowledgement of the significant kidnapping problem in Europe, where a child is reported missing every two minutes.
European and other authorities around the world recognize International Missing Children’s Day, a joint venture between the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, the latter located in the United States. The day of observance was first officially recognized on a global scale in 2001, nearly two decades after President Ronald Reagan declared National Missing Children’s Day in the United States on May 25, 1983.
That was exactly four years to the day after a six-year-old boy from New York City named Etan Patz was kidnapped en route to school from a bus. In 1979, Patz became the first missing child whose face was plastered on milk cartons across the country.
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