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.
For me, this trip was a lesson in gratitude. As my stress and pain melted away, I didn’t feel guilt about my own less serious health issues compared to the children in Ethiopia, I rather felt gratitude for my life. The best way to express that gratitude was to give back to humanity.
Global Gratitude Alliance is just one small way that we can all express our gratitude and commitment to a better future. I invite you to join us in this movement. It will not only enrich the lives of others - it’ll change your life as well.
Read about the eBay Foundation grant for our vocational training project with our partner in Ethiopia.
Learn more about our project in Ethiopia.