Gratitude in Low Voices By Dawit Gebremichael Habte

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Our bodies started shaking from the cold and shock, yet we were so terrified of being caught that we had to keep our teeth clenched together to keep them from chattering; we could not allow ourselves to make any sound. Whenever we heard a sound or detected motion, we would stare in that direction, even though we could see nothing but dark.

Dawit Gebremichael Habte fled his homeland of Eritrea as a teenager. In the midst of the ongoing Eritrean-Ethiopian war, Dawit and his sisters crossed illegally into Kenya. Without their parents or documents to help their passage, they experienced the abuse and neglect known by so many refugees around the world.

But Dawit refused to give up. He stayed resilient and positive. Journeying to the United States under asylum—and still a boy—Dawit found a new purpose in an unfamiliar land. Against impossible odds, he studied hard and was accepted to Johns Hopkins University, eventually landing a job as a software engineer at Bloomberg. After a few years, with the support of Michael Bloomberg himself, Dawit returned to his homeland to offer business opportunities for other Eritreans. Dawit found a way to help his ancestral land emerge from thirty years of debilitating war.

Gratitude in Low Voices is about how one man was marginalized, but how compassion and love never abandoned him. It’s about learning how to care for family, and how to honor those who help the helpless. The life of a refugee is hard, and the lives of those in war-torn lands are harder still. This account reminds us that hope is not lost.

This humble story of Dawit’s life stands out in a time when we look at immigrants as never before— a book that illuminates our decisions to help or to turn away those who land on our doorstep, and the gratitude that surely follows any act of compassion.

Dawit Gebremichael Habte

Dawit Gebremichael Habte is an Eritrean American, father, husband, software engineer, and writer. Raised in a tiny village just south of Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, Dawit fled to Kenya as a teenager and sought asylum in the United States. He has been featured in the USA Today, New York Times, and Johns Hopkins Gazette and has written for Dahai, Madot, Tesfa News—Eritrean publications. He lives in Maryland with his wife and five children and works for Bloomberg.

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