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Finding Chika

A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family

By Mitch Albom
15-minute read
Audio available
Finding Chika by Mitch Albom

Finding Chika (2019) is the true story of a little girl from Haiti who survives the catastrophe of an earthquake and the death of her mother. With bravery, grace, and a life-loving curiosity, she then battles against a brain tumor while under the guardianship of author Mitch Albom, who learns powerful lessons on life, love, and family in the short time they have together. 

  • Those grieving the loss of a loved one
  • Fans of tearjerkers
  • People who’d like to see the world afresh through a child’s eyes

Mitch Albom is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including seven New York Times bestsellers and Tuesdays with Morrie, the bestselling memoir of all time. His books have collectively sold more than 40 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 47 languages. In addition to his published books, Albom has been voted America’s best sports columnist by the Associated Press Sports Editors thirteen times. 

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Finding Chika

A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family

By Mitch Albom
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Finding Chika by Mitch Albom
Synopsis

Finding Chika (2019) is the true story of a little girl from Haiti who survives the catastrophe of an earthquake and the death of her mother. With bravery, grace, and a life-loving curiosity, she then battles against a brain tumor while under the guardianship of author Mitch Albom, who learns powerful lessons on life, love, and family in the short time they have together. 

Key idea 1 of 9

Though there is little record of Chika Jeune’s early life, we know that it was marked by an earthquake and tragedy.

Chika Jeune was born in Haiti on January 9, 2010, in a two-room cinder-block house, next to a breadfruit tree. There was no doctor present, just a midwife named Albert. It was a healthy, normal birth.

Chika’s mother’s name was Reselia. The daughter of a yam farmer in the seaport Aux Cayes, she was a tall, strong woman with a broad face and stern expression. She liked to read and eat fish. To earn money, she sold trinkets on the street.

When she was a little older, she met a man called Fedner Jeune, and they eloped. Soon after, they had two daughters. Then, they had another, who they named Medjerda. A happy, stocky baby, everyone called her “Chika” as a term of endearment. It stuck. It came to be the name that people knew the little girl by.

Just three days after Chika was born, an earthquake tore through Haiti. Chika was sleeping on her mother’s chest when the ground began to shake and groan. The whole house and its foundations trembled as if a great battle was going on in the bowels of the earth. Then, with increasing violence, the tremors shook the roof off. The house split open like a walnut, leaving the mother and baby exposed to the heavens.

All around them, people ran, and fell, and screamed in fear and agony. Offices collapsed. Buildings were shattered. Trees lay on their sides, flattened. Pigs and goats hid where they could. Human bodies were piled under the grey rubble. Eventually, the death toll would rise to the hundreds of thousands – more people were killed in less than a minute than in the whole of the Gulf War and American Revolution combined. And amongst all this chaos, a mother and her baby lay under the open sky.

Not long after this, in the long aftermath of the earthquake, Chika’s mother had another baby. A boy. But sadly, she died during childbirth. For a while, Chika went to live with her mother’s friend, Herzulia, rather than remain with her father. Then, still a toddler, she was seen carrying dirty sheets up the high dangerous steps of Herzulia’s apartment, and a neighbor suggested that she be taken to a nearby orphanage.

It was there, at that Port-au-Prince orphanage, that she came into the life of Mitch Albom.

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