Sometimes you find hope and joy where you least expect it. That’s the case with The Unexpected Friend. I found a lovely story about a young boy, Faisal, who finds an injured bird and takes it home to his sisters. Shortly afterwards, Faisal injures his own arm while gathering firewood, and so he and the bird rest and heal together, discovering an unexpected friendship in the process. When the bird’s wing is healed, Faisal and his sisters grieve, say goodbye, and set it free. “Go in peace little friend.”
The story is simple and sweet, but it’s the setting that makes it profound. Faisal and his sisters are refugees living in a refugee camp in Bangladesh. As they read, children will learn a little bit about life in the camp – how they visit the mosque, go to school, gather firewood, play, line up for bags of rice and cooking oil, or visit the overburdened medical clinic. Yet the setting is merely that. It doesn’t play a large role in this universal story of one curious and compassionate child teaming up with his siblings to nurse an injured bird back to health. Thus, without explicitly saying so, The Unexpected Friend teaches us that refugee children – despite living in different circumstances – are just like us. We share the same hopes and fears, the same joys and sorrows, and the same need for love and friendship.
This book project was initiated by Save the Children to gift to Rohingya children living in Bangladeshi refugee camps. Profits from the sale of this book will be donated to Save the Children for their Rohingya relief fund.
*I was given a free PDF copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.