Michigan Blood Employee Lives the American Dream
Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 1:10PM
Laurie Brady - Webmaster

Celebrating World Blood Donor’s Day (June 14th) with the story of a West African man who helps save lives

He sat at his desk, fiddling with what appeared to be a small engine. The 28-year-old technician said he fixes anything that breaks down – a policy he’s lived by his entire life.

“I had no choice but to become something,” said Kwami Dessouassi.

That’s because less than two decades ago, Kwami was homeless. He immigrated to the United States in 2000 from Togo, a country in West Africa, but didn’t have a sustainable place to live. One day, he was found by a woman named Rose. She and her husband, Tony, would go on to raise the 11-year-old.

Kwami pulled out two different photo albums showcasing his ‘parents’ – a couple with fame behind their big hearts. Rose Lovecraft was an Olympic runner who set several records; Tony Thomas was a singer in the doo-wop group ‘The Pastels’.

“That’s mama and papa,” he said simply.

He lived with the couple in West Michigan until a few years ago; working and going to school, pushed by a desire to do more.

“I just feel deep in my heart that I want to become somebody,” he said.

He graduated from Grand Rapids Community College, and soon became a United States citizen. It didn’t take long after that for him to begin working for Michigan Blood as a Support Services Technician.

But Kwami wanted to add one more title to his name: volunteer.

“I volunteer to deliver blood to hospitals,” he said, “Anything I can do to make a difference in people’s lives.”

It’s a far cry from the life Kwami knew in Togo. He said it was a shock to come to the United States.

“You could push a button and water came out,” he said, laughing, “I’d never seen anything like that before!”

He pulled up a picture his brother sent him from West Africa, showing a stone building with a tin roof held up by what appear to be re-purposed tree branches. A perhaps surprising feature, a satellite dish, stands atop the structure.

“That’s the house I was born in,” he said.

But it’s that background, along with two accomplished parents, that pushes the 28-year-old to want to keep bettering himself.

“When people quick look at me – we all judge each other, it’s part of life – but I think when people look at me, they think I won’t amount to nothing. But I accomplished things. I got here.”

Article originally appeared on Michigan Blood (http://www.miblood.org/).
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