In 2011, I was traveling in San Jose for meetings at eBay, getting ready for my sabbatical in Africa. However instead of driving to the airport to fly home, I drove myself to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. Half a year and several infections later, I rescheduled my sabbatical, uneasy about traveling with a constant pain in my abdomen.
The first weeks of sabbatical were tough. I couldn’t enjoy myself, convinced that I had a life threatening gastroenterological disease, despite the doctors confirming that I was fine. And, then I arrived in Ethiopia. I was there to research projects to support through The Gracias Foundation, the nonprofit that I was about to launch (now called Global Gratitude Alliance). The kids we spent time with there are all HIV positive. Most are also orphans who have watched their mothers and fathers wither away in front of them. For the younger ones, you wouldn’t know about their stories just by looking at them. Like all kids, their laughter is music – they just want someone to share it with. For the older ones, the sadness in their eyes is deep. And, the uncertainty they have about the future is real.