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Gwinnett school bus driver writes book about fleeing Africa

Yakob Kidane Adhanom, now a Gwinnett County Public Schools bus driver, wrote a book, “Unprecedented Life Journey,” about his journey from Africa, through a refugee camp, to the United States. Adhanom is scheduled to have a book signing at 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Barnes & Noble in Peachtree Corners. (Staff Photo: Keith Farner)

Yakob Kidane Adhanom, now a Gwinnett County Public Schools bus driver, wrote a book, “Unprecedented Life Journey,” about his journey from Africa, through a refugee camp, to the United States. Adhanom is scheduled to have a book signing at 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Barnes & Noble in Peachtree Corners. (Staff Photo: Keith Farner)

LAWRENCEVILLE — When Yakob Kidane Adhanom mapped his way out of political conflict in east Africa, he told himself that one day he would pledge to help people.

Growing up in the Horn of Africa, Adhonom witnessed leadership from people in government who “weren’t good” and didn’t treat his father well. As a refugee, Adhanom left his home country of Eritrea in 1990 and moved to the United States in 2004 after he married and lived with his wife in Kenya for 14 years.

Adhanom, now a Gwinnett County Public Schools bus driver, documented those experiences, including losing a son in Kenya in 1995, in a recently released book, “Unprecedented Life Journey,” published by AuthorHouse in February. Adhanom is scheduled to have a book signing at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Barnes & Noble at 5141 Peachtree Parkway in Peachtree Corners.

In the book, which is years in the making and the second attempt for Adhanom to find a publisher, Adhanom also encourages children to take advantage of their opportunities.

“Students have the best opportunity, and can be anything they want to be,” he said. “In Africa, there are dictators that just want you to be soldiers in an army. Through hardship, I was put in a condition to give birth to the book.”

Looking to give back to the community and the United States, Adhanom said he would donate a portion of book sales toward paying the national debt. He said he’s grateful for a country that welcomed him, and after he was laid off in 2007, he declined food stamps.

“The United States gave us stuff,” he said. “When my wife gave birth, friends and relatives were far away. To the nation that did me good, I want to do good.”

Adhanom wrote the book because he was encouraged to use his life as a message for a wider audience and to “benefit more people.”

Since he arrived in this country, Adhanom has worked for a book supplier, served as a pastor and after 11 applications, became a GCPS bus driver. Adhanom became a Christian in a refugee camp where he at times went three days without food or water, and inspires him to fast every few months, which “empowers you more in the presence of God.”

Comparing that experience with the children he drives to school each day, Adhanom referred again to opportunity.

“I see many people, like young children, have the best opportunity,” he said. “They’re fed breakfast and lunch and given a school bus. In Africa, you ride a bike or walk — no bus.”

The message Adhanom hopes readers receive from his book is to make good choices for a better life, and appreciate where you are and the path that brought you there.

“God has brought me here for a reason,” he said. “For everyone, there’s a reason God want to work through our lives. Don’t complain about what you don’t have. What you don’t have is for a reason.”