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Mitch Albom arriving right after launch of latest book

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I interviewed Mitch Albom minutes after finishing his latest non-fiction book about a little Haitian girl he and his wife took in, and then lost to brain cancer.

I was still wiping away tears, I explained to him.

“I’m glad you were moved by it,” he said. “But I hope you didn’t just find it sad. I hope you found it inspirational too.”

Albom wrote Finding Chika: A little girl, an Earthquake and the Making of a Family after Chika died of a rare cancer in 2017. She was seven years old.

He met her at an orphanage in Port au Prince shortly after Haiti’s devastating earthquake in 2010. Albom, no stranger to charitable work in Michigan where he lives, decided to assume operations for the orphanage with his wife Janine.

When Chika was five, workers noticed something was wrong and an MRI found a mass in her brain. She flew to Detroit to stay with the Alboms and pursue treatment with the intent she’d return to Haiti once recovered.

But she never got better. Instead, Chika died in the Alboms’ arms two years later.

“Readers know from the first page that she is dead. Obviously, losing her was the biggest heartbreak of my life,” said Albom, the author of Tuesdays with Morrie, one of the bestselling memoirs of all time.  It too was about dying but, like Finding Chika, it was also about the gift of life.

“With Chika, we were given a child; one wasn’t taken away,” said Albom. “I hope readers come away knowing kids are a gift, that the time we have with them is a gift.

“And that it is worth shifting your life, your marriage and your time for them because they will enhance your life and your marriage.”

Chika had a strong voice, a stubborn streak and a power of observation that made the Alboms laugh, even through her medical treatments and experimental therapies.

He wrote the book, in part, to preserve that voice and share the insight of a child who had seen the worst that life can offer, as well as some of the best.

“There were many moments when Chika was smarter and tougher than I was,” said Albom. “She was so verbal. It is important to me that others hear her voice.”

The book frequently describes conversations Albom had with Chika, suggesting she’s talking to him from beyond the grave or in his imagination.

“Chika comes back to me all the time,” he said. “I close my eyes and replay the discussions we had and I thought writing them down was a way to convey her joy. It takes the sting out of the fact she’s gone.”

The writing helped him work through the grief, he said.

“The best legacy I could give her is that all the money that comes from the sale of the book goes to the orphanage. So I’m highly motivated to get out and talk about it.”

Albom is a best-selling author, journalist and broadcaster whose books have sold more than 39 million copies worldwide and been published in 45 languages.

The new book is being released Nov. 5 as Albom hits the road on a four-month tour. He is coming to Sarnia on Nov. 13 to talk about Chika and her legacy.

Albom’s orphanage is called the Have Faith Haiti Mission and is home to 52 Haitians, mostly children but some who are now grown and going to college in the U.S.

He spends three to seven days a month there and knows all the children by name. Chika’s brother and a sister now live there.



WHAT: Author Mitch Albom discussing his latest non-fiction book: Finding Chika

WHEN: Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m.

WHERE: Imperial Theatre

TICKETS: $56.50, includes a copy of the book. Available at the Imperial Theatre (

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