By Gail Rognan

My new friend Ambaye is from Ethiopia. He moved here 15 years ago to Washington State after being chosen by the lottery. He was one of thousands who applied…. His parents paid his way over the ocean and he stayed with a man they knew for 4 months before getting his own place and a job. He worked as a janitor in a nursing home and got a degree to be a nursing assistant. He went on to get a nursing degree and now works as a nurse in the nursing home I now live in.

It didn’t take me long to see how special he is. His eyes sparkle and he is innately kind. We bonded when I told him about my story and book and then I began to ask him about his life. What I appreciate about him is his sense of appreciation for the life he is able to lead in America. He does not take it for granted and is so happy to be able to able offer his kids a good life. I can’t imagine the courage it took to move by oneself to a different continent and culture and not know anyone. He told me he has experienced many hardships but he is the kind of person who chooses to become stronger and wiser and more grateful instead of bitter. He is an inspiration.

What I have been through the last 5 years is tough but when I meet people like him, I am more determined to keep going. To keep moving forward. On the days when I feel down and frustrated by my lack of progress, I will think of Ambaye and I will choose joy.