'Finding Chika' is a celebration of a child, and of family love

03 December 2019 - 12:22
'Chika' is international number one bestseller Mitch Albom's first work of non-fiction in 10 years.
'Chika' is international number one bestseller Mitch Albom's first work of non-fiction in 10 years.
Image: Jonathan Ball

Chika Jeune was born three days before the devastating earthquake that decimated Haiti in 2010. She spent her infancy in extreme poverty, and when her mother died giving birth to a baby brother, Chika was brought to the Have Faith Haiti Orphanage that Mitch Albom and his wife, Janine, operate.

Chika's arrival made a quick impression. Brave and self-assured, even as a three-year-old, she delighted the other children and teachers. But at age five, Chika was diagnosed with a terminal disease that no doctor in Haiti could treat.

The couple took Chika to America, hoping treatment there would enable her to go back home. Instead, Chika became a permanent part of their lives as they embarked on a two-year, around-the-world journey to find a cure.

As Chika's boundless optimism and humour taught Albom the joys of caring for a child, he learnt that a relationship built on love, no matter what blows it takes, can never be lost.

This is Albom at his most poignant, powerful and personal. Finding Chika is a celebration of a girl, her adoptive guardians, and the incredible bond they formed - a devastatingly beautiful portrait of what it means to be a family, regardless of how it is made.