Canadian police officer Justin Frye, who served in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s, used social media to find a local boy who he befriended at the fence near his helicopter landing zone during the conflict.
‘The boy behind the fence’ is a picture taken back in 1994 in the war-torn area of Visoko in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Frye, who was deployed to the Balkans with the United Nations Protection Forces, said that visiting that place once more after nearly 25 years provided a sense a closure for him.
The secretly set-up 2018 meeting with Amra, the sister of the boy in the picture, came as a surprise to the old friends as they have reconnected in joy.
“I'm a people person, I like to talk to people, and when I went to the fence, it's funny how language can come in so many forms. Here we are, we didn't speak the same language, but the smile can go a long way,” Frye said.
Amir's sister reflected back on that time and recalled Frye's friendship with her brother. She said the Canadian soldier used to bring candies and presents, something one would rarely come across in conflict zones.
“Amir used to paint for Justin. He painted helicopters, he painted soldiers and then they would meet at the fence. Justin liked his paintings and gave him candy in return,” Amra Uzicanin said.
“I recall my childhood very well and Justin was my very first friend in life. We basically had nothing and having someone who cared so much to see me meant everything to me. It was friendship at a first sight!,” said Amir Bajramovic, the ‘boy behind the fence’.
The two committed to meeting each other this summer, but this time, at the same side of the fence.
“I think it's important for Amir to know that this relationship is symbolic. Like relationships that soldiers built with children in war zones for many years. We are the lucky ones to put a nice finish on this one and to start fresh in 2018,” Frye said.