UAE: French envoy gives new home to pet bird of evacuated Afghan girl
Now, Juji the mynah can say 'Bonjour'.
In a heart-warming act of kindness, the French envoy in Abu Dhabi has offered a new home to a pet bird of an Afghan girl.
The girl named Alia — who was evacuated from Kabul following the Taliban takeover — was en route to France via Abu Dhabi but her little mynah wasn’t allowed on the flight.
So, Xavier Chatel, the French Ambassador to the UAE, brought Alia’s pet to his official residence. And with a bit of training, the mynah can now say ‘Bonjour’.
Chatel took to Twitter to share his inspiring story of taking care of the bird.
There is a story I have been meaning to tell for a while. During the Afghan evacuation operation, a girl arrived at Al Dhafra airbase, exhausted, with an unusual possession: a bird. She had fought all the way at Kabul airport, to bring the treasured little thing with her.— Xavier Chatel (@Xavier_Chatel_) October 5, 2021
Chatel was moved as Alia cried silently because, for “sanitary reasons”, the bird wasn’t permitted on the plane to France. The envoy promised the girl that he would take care of the bird and she could visit anytime and take him back. “I won’t forget her look of desperate gratefulness.”
During the mass evacuation, France flew out nearly 3,000 people, including more than 2,600 Afghans from Kabul.
“During that heavy fortnight at the base, I was sleeping two or three hours a day, so intense was the evacuation organisation. On a dizzy interlude I took Juji (the bird) to the French residence.”
But it wasn’t an easy ride home for the ambassador as the mynah escaped his box and made a “big mess” in the car.
“He hid beneath the seat and wouldn’t budge. When I tried to talk him into coming back, the fierce little fellow showed me that if he survived the Kabul airport, I was no match.
He hid beneath the seat and wouldn't budge. When I tried to talk him into coming back, the fierce little fellow showed me that if he survived the Kabul airport, I was no match.— Xavier Chatel (@Xavier_Chatel_) October 5, 2021
“So, I bought him a nice cage, fed him, took him out in the cool mornings so he could see other birds. He has a girlfriend now—a dove that visits him every day. So, he loosened up and started, at night, to say mysterious things, in a language we couldn’t understand.
Chatel spent a few minutes every day trying to teach Juji some French words, starting with ‘Bonjour’.
...Or so I thought. Until one day, the (female) manager of the French residence sent me this "Bonjour" that went straight to my heart.— Xavier Chatel (@Xavier_Chatel_) October 5, 2021
“But the thing is: Juji doesn’t like men. He frowned at me and looked angrily, while he giggled at females. I went on trying hopelessly my daily ‘Bonjour’— but sure enough he wouldn’t listen.”
One day, the female manager of the French residence sent him a video capturing the moments when Juji said ‘Bonjour’. Chatel noted that the instance went straight to his heart.
And on Tuesday, Alia found Chatel on Twitter and was happy to know her bird is in good hands.
“She wanted me to teach him French. Alia, your bird has become the embassy’s mascot, but he is here for you, and if I can, I’ll take him personally to you one day,” the ambassador added.
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