Soldier And Refugee Re-Connect 24 Years After They Became Friends
Friendships can come from the most unexpected of circumstances, and once formed they can last a lifetime. One man had to say goodbye to his newfound friend all too soon, but years later the two were able to pick up right where they left off.
Justin Frye was a young Canadian soldier in 1994, and he was sent on deployment to Bosnia. There he was posted along with other soldiers fighting for the United Nations. Stationed in the city of Visoko, he was tasked with providing security for incoming UN helicopters landing on the military base.
During Justin’s deployment, he had a chance to meet some of the local children. They were fascinated by the events taking place on the base, so they returned each day to see what the soldiers were up to. One boy in particular stood out in Justin’s mind
This child’s name was Amir Bajramovic. He was a 10 year old refugee who couldn’t get enough of the action happening on the other side of the fence. He and Justin became close friends, and they formed a bond that would last forever.
“I found myself gravitating toward Amir and looking forward to spending time with him,” Justin told CBC. “When you see the children, there is a personal side to the conflict there. I felt bad for them and I knew they didn’t have a lot of things, so I started to bring candies for Amir. And soon he started to recognize me.”
It didn’t take long for the two to become the best of friends. Seeing the situation this little boy was in, Justin wanted to do something nice for him. With some creative thinking he found the perfect way to brighten Amir’s day.
He asked his mother to send him a special care package, filled with gifts he could give to the boy. He gave Amir pencils, crayons, and even a blue Timex Indigo watch. As Americans we take these items for granted, but they meant so much to the child.
“Amir did not speak English but the excitement was obvious by his big smile and the look in his eyes,” Justin recalled.
As the war came to a close, the soldier was excited to return home. He was ready to see his family and friends, but he wasn’t quite ready to leave Amir’s side. He thought of the boy each day as he continued life as a civilian.
One day, years later, a picture of Amir popped up on Justin’s computer screensaver. He instantly remembered all the good times the two had shared, and he wanted to reconnect with the boy he had befriended all those years ago.
Justin didn’t have much information to go off of – all he had were the boy’s name and the address of the place he had once lived. In a stroke of luck, he got in contact with a reporter who was determined to help him. This man, named Senad Hajilovac, found the former refugee in just five hours.
The boy’s sister still lived in the area, and she passed his contact information along to Justin. The former soldier added the man on Facebook and sent him a picture the two of them had taken. Along with the image he sent the word “Visoko.”
The now-34 year old man instantly recognized him and replied! He lived in Sweden with his wife and daughter, and he was overjoyed to hear from his old friend.
“It was a wonderful feeling and it was a feeling that I’ve been looking forward to experiencing for 24 years now,” Justin said. “I am very pleased to have added my newest facebook friend Amir Bajramovic today.”
These two men had been through so much, but they never let distance come in between the friendship they had once shared. Now that they were reunited digitally, the old friends wanted to see each other in person.
“We’ve spoken about reuniting and I assured him this time that we’ll be standing on the same side of the fence.”
This sweet story is proof that an act of kindness can change a life forever. The lives of Justin and Amir have been irreversibly intertwined, and they are each better for having known the other.
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