A Canadian veteran of the Bosnian war who reconnected with a local boy he met during the conflict says meeting him again and finding out he’s doing well two decades later has been one of the best experiences of his life.
Justin Frye, who was posted in the war-torn area with the United Nations in 1994, said meeting the now 34-year-old man, Amir Bajramovic, provides a sense of closure after that tumultuous time in his life.
“I don’t have a lot of tangible items from my time over there, but one thing I always kept was his picture,” said Frye, who now works as a police officer in Barrie, Ont.
Frye befriended Bajramovic over a six-month period, when a number of Bosnian children would run up to a fence near his helicopter landing zone to interact with him and other soldiers.
Bajramovic, who lived in a poverty-stricken area near the landing zone, stuck out to Frye because he was always engaging and interested, despite not speaking English.
“When he saw me he would always run to the fence to see me, then he would always shout for his sister to come out from the house so that she could translate for us,” said Frye, who would give gifts sent by his mother to children at the fence.
Despite the connection, Frye said when he left Bosnia he never expected to see Bajramovic again as he didn’t even know the boy’s last name at the time.
However, Frye began thinking about Bajramovic as he got older, and when he stumbled on the picture of the two of them together, he decided to take action.
Frye managed to get a hold of a Bosnian reporter who agreed to help find Bajramovic.
Thanks to social media, the reporter was able to find him in just five hours, even though he now lived across the continent in Sweden.
Since then, the two men have been talking daily by instant message. Bajramovic is now a father, and is working to get a taxi licence.
A Facebook post Frye made about their reconnection has generated over 1,000 shares and hundreds of comments from around the world.
Frye says both he and Bajramovic have gotten closure out of talking to one another, and he’s heard from people in Bosnia and other conflict zones like Iraq and Afghanistan after the story started going viral.
“The most important thing is this story is symbolic of thousands of relationships that soldiers have made with children in conflict zones,” said Frye.
“The wonderful thing about this story in particular story is that there’s a happy ending to it.”
Frye now hopes he can travel to Bosnia so that he can meet Bajramovic and his sister in person at the same spot where Frye was stationed during the war. Salmaan Farooqui, The Canadian Press