Douglas Ayombisa had a dream. The 29-year-old Ghana native had always wanted to be a nurse, but he didn’t have the means to study medicine in his country, so he settled on getting an accounting degree instead.
“It was really frustrating,” said Ayombisa of not being able to pursue his lifelong goal of caring for people in need.
But that was five years ago. Today, after a long journey and much hard work, Ayombisa has achieved his dream. Following several years of caring for senior residents at Eddy Village Green in Cohoes, and earning an associate’s degree in nursing, Ayombisa is embarking on a new chapter in his life. This month, he will begin his new job as a nurse at Albany Memorial Hospital.
Ayombisa’s life took a turn for the unexpected in 2010 when he hit the green card lottery – a visa lottery program offered in Ghana and other third world countries. He was one of only 11 individuals selected out of 15,000 people in northern Ghana to come to America.
“I had no idea. I never dreamed of coming to America,” Ayombisa said.
Ayombisa had to leave his family behind when he came to the U.S. to pursue new opportunities and a better life. Knowing no one in this country, the Capital Region was a random spot on the map where a friend of a friend lived.
Once here, Ayombisa applied and was hired as a nurse’s aide trainee and then certified nurse’s aide at Eddy Village Green. The following year, he enrolled at Ellis Medicine School of Nursing never forgetting his dream of becoming a nurse.
A hard worker and dedicated employee, Ayombisa made an impression on his supervisors and colleagues alike. In 2012, he was named the recipient of the first annual Eddy Village Green Scholarship Award – a legacy of the former Auxilians and Volunteers of the Eddy Cohoes Rehabilitation Center – which subsidized Douglas’ tuition costs. And despite working, he maintained a 3.9 grade point average, and perfect attendance at both work and school.
“In my 28 years of nursing, he is the best employee I’ve ever had,” said Amy Mundweiler, educator and guide at Eddy Village Green. “He resolved problems on his own. He never called in sick, worked double shifts when needed, and yet, he’s one of the most humble people I know.”
Mundweiler and a small entourage of colleagues and residents (called “elders” at Eddy Village Green) surprised Ayombisa and attended his recent graduation, including elders who came out in walkers and wheelchairs alike. Eddy Village Green had become his home away from home, and he said the staff and elders were his family.
“It’s nice to have people like this who will do anything to help you,” Ayombisa said. “I never even dreamed of coming to America, but this is my home here. They make me feel like I have a second home apart from my birthplace. Everyone here has encouraged me, and Amy was like a mom to me, she talked to me like a son.”
“The entire team here has helped him, and would do anything to help him,” Mundweiler said. “He’s earned that. He’s earned everything. We need special people like him here.”
Ayombisa said his mother back home in Ghana cried when he told her the news. With his paycheck, Ayombisa helps to financially support her and a younger sister back home, along with his wife and 14-month-old son, all in Ghana.
“You get what you give,” Ayombisa said. “I give my all to what I do. I feel if I’m able to help someone in need, I get so much satisfaction from that.”
This month, Ayombisa will begin his new job as a nurse for the 5th floor medical/surgical unit at Albany Memorial Hospital. He says he is excited about his new role and learning new things, but admits he will miss the relationships he has created at Eddy Village Green.
“It makes me want to cry,” Ayombisa said. “I can’t see myself not being here to take care of these people. And I’ll miss their stories, but this is my home, my family, I can’t leave them.” He promised to return and visit regularly.
As for achieving his dream, Ayombisa offers some words of encouragement for anyone who has ever had a dream – go for what you want.
“Everyone is capable,” Ayombisa said. “If I can do it, everyone else can too.” He recalls with a smile the advice that one of his elders at Eddy Village Green, a retired teacher, once gave him, “You can do it. It’s not that hard!”