Amber Abrams left the United States four years after graduating...

Amber Abrams left the United States four years after graduating from Glen Cove High School and found a new beginning in her native South Africa. Credit: Handout

Amber Abrams left the United States four years after graduating from Glen Cove High School and found a new beginning in her native South Africa.

She is managing a World Health Organization-supported project in Cape Town called the Pan African Clinical Trials Registry.

She earned a master's degree after moving to South Africa and had contemplated returning to New York after a visit in November 2008, but the economy frightened her off.

"I was in the country for six weeks, watching friends and loved ones lose their jobs. . . . I decided returning to South Africa would be better than trying to find a job in the ruined economy," Abrams said in an e-mail from South Africa.

Her parents remain in Glen Cove.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Abrams was a Columbia University student and working at the New York City Human Rights Commission next to the Twin Towers.

She was on the subway headed to work when her father called about the attack. Wanting to help, she later tried to give blood but was denied, and speculated it might have had "something to do with being African."

It might have been inoculations she had received overseas or just that she was originally from Africa, she said. But her anger turned into goodwill.

"I was furious, and stormed downtown with some of my softball teammates . . . to Chelsea Piers where the emergency teams had set up boats to ferry people down to Ground Zero."

She volunteered with the relief effort for three days. She said she didn't plan the path she has taken, but "without realizing it, I lived the concept of letting life bring what it holds without resistance (or too much resistance)," she said in the e-mail.

Abrams lives near the sea and can see Muizenberg and Kalk Bay mountains from her window. Sometimes she sees whales, sometimes fish eagles at the wetlands down the road. "Every day I thank the forces of nature that have brought me to this naturally exquisite place," she said.

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