In Finding Chika, author Mitch Albom, shares the story of finding and giving love and then losing it. Albom, a successful journalist, had been invited by the owner of Have Faith Haiti Orphanage to join him on a support visit to assess the damage in Haiti in the wake of the earthquake that devastated the nation in 2010. Albom had no idea how much that trip would affect his life.
Chika was just 3 days old at the time of the earthquake. Three years later, her mother died giving birth to a little brother. This is when Chika is brought to the Have Faith Orphanage. Albom, who wound up taking over the orphanage, was endeared to Chika on one of his early visits, drawn to her smile, her humor, and her all-around welcoming disposition.
Chika is 5 years old when she is diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas or DIPG, an aggressive childhood brain tumor for which a cure is elusive. On hearing of the diagnosis, Albom, or “Mister Mitch,” as he is lovingly called by the children, arranges to take Chika home to Michigan to live with him and his wife, “Miss Janine,” as they seek out avenues for treatment and a cure.
Albom’s love for Chika takes his breath away as they enfold the little girl into their life. Albom confesses to having enjoyed their life of privilege and flexibility prior to becoming Chika’s guardians. But as Chika becomes part of the fabric of their family, they discover an “unimagined dimension” to their own love and marriage.
The Alboms search out the best hospitals and alternative treatments in the U.S. and beyond, as Chika defies the limited time doctors have given her to live. And yet, in the end, the disease takes their little girl.
Albom shares not only their story of joy and pain but also their struggle as a couple as they seek to find peace amid the anger and frustration of this senseless illness, each wondering about God’s will and purpose in these heartbreaking circumstances.
Sure to join Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie on the bestseller lists, Finding Chika is a recommended read for anyone and everyone. There is not a heart that will not be touched by this story. (Harper Collins)