I took this photograph nearly two months ago, it was the moment I gave Mawulidi's the first of the carving tools needed to start his wood carving again. I have to say, there are fewer feelings in my life that are greater than seeing a profoundly creative person like this find their creative spark once again, and live the life they were meant to life.
Mawulidi was both disbelieving and grateful, but watching him near tears – he very rarely smiles – I was reminded of the selfishness of giving.
I am fully aware of the fact that when I do good for someone else, it is a selfish thing, because for some reason it makes me feel good about myself.
When I first was introduced to Mawulidi, I wasn't sure why. He wasn't asking for anything, didn't seem to want anything. I think Francis Sengabo, the RISSE official who introduced us, simply wanted me to hear, Mawulidi's remarkable story of tragedy and survival.
When I heard he lost his tools, something shifted inside of me, in my heart. To be honest, I didn't have a sense of how talented Mawulidi was, when he talked about carving wood, I thought of small pieces of wood with designs and symbols whittled in.
When Mawulidi showed me of pigeons, I was startled by the simplicity and beauty of it, I see he was just scratching the surface then.
I am very happy about this, he just lifted my heart right up into the sky. In the morning, I will put up a photo of each carving and they will go on sale. It is already abundantly clear these will all be sold in seconds.
When I do good, I always know it is for me as much as them. It just feels better than almost anything else. I am sad for those who can't feel it or won't.
This is the beginning of something, not the end. Also in the morning I will launch a new campaign,my choice for the next task of me and the Army Of Good: our RISSE Winter Clothing campaign.
The Risse students and their families – young and old – are in urgent need of winter clothing. The thing about refugees is that they come here with little more than the clothing on their backs, immigrants come not because they have to but because they want to. They usually bring some things with them.
I know some of the soccer kids own only flip-flops and sneakers. They and their families are facing a severe upstate New York winter, the first exposure of many of them to bitter cold, snow and ice. Many have no sweaters or jackets.
So I am planning to launch a clothing campaign for them here on the blog. You've done if for the refuge warehouse, for the Mansion residents, this need is great. I'm going to be asking for us to do it again, for the refugees and immigrants. The government is cutting almost all of the aid the refugees have traditionally received. I am seeing and hearing that it is going to be a hard winter for them..
They need smallish jackets, sweaters, winter boots, snowpants for children, warm socks, scarves, mittens and gloves. The children need everything, the adults tend to be smaller and slender – medium sizes.
You can send new clothing or used clothing if it is in good condition. These winter clothes will go to RISSE directly: RISSE Winter Clothing, 715 Morris Street, Albany, N.Y., 12208. I will be writing about this all winter, it is a program of the Army Of Good.
I'll launch it officially in the morning, this is just an alert, thanks for thinking about it. There are more than 100 young students at RISSE, and many more adults in the education programs. I spent some time today asking them what they need for winter in terms of clothing – everything, they said.
I'll write more about it in the morning.