I have come a long way from riding on the back of a donkey as a child in Portugal in the 50's and 60's, where I grew up. My family was poor; in fact, I recall times when my courageous mother had to literally beg for food to feed four hungry boys. At the time, we also never had a permanent home to live in, and often times had to be on the move while at the mercy and generosity of others to provide shelter something to eat. Our donkey served as our only means of transportation and helped us with our work.
One blessing we had: my father was the son of Portuguese immigrants in the US. Though his parents returned to Portugal when he was just 4 years old, it was his citizenship that enabled us to move to America. My father moved in 1966, and the rest of us followed a year later.
In the United States, our struggles continued when both my parents became ill. My brothers and I wound up in a foster home a short time after arriving in America. We could barely speak English and found ourselves in a home with 17 other similarly placed children. This went on for nearly two years. Eventually we were placed under the care of our parents even though they continued to struggle with their health'my father passed away just 6 years after we had arrived in Ludlow, Massachusetts. Ironically, we lived on Joy Street. The passing of my father at the young age of 54 left my mother with the huge task of raising the boys, and she faced huge obstacles because she did not speak English and had no particular job skill to earn a living with.
Consequently, we soon were placed on Welfare and receiving food stamps in order to survive. I was 17 then and had no idea what I would do with my life. But I did know I wanted to do something worthwhile so that I could eventually help my gentle mother, Maria, and my younger brothers. I was fortunate (due to our circumstances) to be able to receive a free education and I graduated from Framingham State College in 1978 with a Bachelor's degree in education. Along the way, I always sought the advice from people I considered as mentors; they helped me to persevere when I most needed strength and hope. Above all, the love my parents had for me and my brothers was really the foundation that has carried us to this day. We are all successful and making positive contributions in our communities.
Today I am happily married to a wonderful wife and have two beautiful children of my own. I'm employed by the Federal Government and work with foreign military and civilian students that come to the U.S. for English Language training. In many cases, I encounter students with similar beginnings to mine. Recently, I started using inspirational quotes from your website. I walk the halls of our institute with quotes in my pocket and hand out daily quotes dealing with a particular value. The students have come to expect this simple gesture, and it is not rare to see them actually line up to get one at the door to my office. They often express how much they enjoy reading the quotes. I have noticed that their general approach to life and work has improved for the better. Some have stated that they would like to do something similar in their own work environments. My intention is to make their lives easier and to give them hope for a better world and inspiration they can take home upon their return.
Thank you for your work on The Foundation for a Better Life'it has been a big part of my daily routine and inspired me to help others in small ways, to give hope to those who struggle, to face every obstacle with strength and optimism, and to have a positive attitude that serves as an example to others.
And one more note on the donkey'as a supervisor, I often have the chance to go into classrooms and ask the foreign students how many are former donkey riders; this is after I proudly announce that I am, and so was Jesus. I use this as a sign of humility, and we immediately bond.
Submitted by Anonymous
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