The Light Stays On
If you want to keep Christ in Christmas, an author wrote, "feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you." I am not a Christian, but have been searching my whole life to know how to make Christmas meaningful for me, and I'm getting closer.
As an admirer of the real Jesus Christ, I believe his message is appropriate for people of good will and open heart of any faith.
Supporting Mawulidi Majailwa the carver is one good way, supporting the Mansion residents and other vulernable people on the edges of life is another.
I don't really know of a much better Christmas story than the story of the Christmas Chicken, I'm drawn to tell it every day as the shopping frenzy cools down for a day. This story does not tire.
Mawulidi Diodone Majaliwa lived in the Congo nearly 25 years ago, before he fled the massacres there with his bother. The rest of his family perished there, and his brother died in the refugee camps, where Mawulidi a carver, spent 22 years of his life before the United States chose him to come to America, his dream.
He is a quiet, simple man of few words and great humility. He never imagined he would carve again when he came to America.
He had to leave the carving tools his grandfather left him behind when he boarded the plane, he came to America last year with his wife and four children, two of whom are very young and still live at home, a tiny apartment near downtown Albany. He spends hours on a public bus traveling to and from his job, he works as a baker in a bread bakery, and there the story ended until I met him at RISSE, the refugee and immigrant center in Albany.
I saw when I met him that he had no winter clothes, he spent his money on winter clothes for his children. He is grateful to be here, but his life is hard and spare.
His is the classic American refugee story, getting to America for a free and better life for his family.
When I heard the story of his tools, I swore to myself that Mawulidi, who came to America to find a better future for his children, would get his tools back, and thanks to the Army Of Good, he got them back and began carving again.
His eye for detail and color is striking.
Maria and I agreed to sell his works on our blogs until he can learn how to sell them on his own. For a man with no car, no computer,and few English words, that is not easy right now.
We sold his first works in minutes, and gave him a check for $400. He is carving again, and made this orange chicken and four blue birds. They were all sold in seconds, there is a waiting list of more than 50 people that Maria is keeping, she has agreed to handle the sales of Mawulidi's work until he can be independent, perhaps on a site like Etsy. We will stand with him all the way.
As his works become available, we will notify the people on the list, show them the new work and the price, and they can say yes or no.
I posted a photo of Mawulidi's Christmas Chicken – that's my name for her – a few days ago, and it was sold instantly for $200. Maria and I both think it is worth more, but we want to start low so that his work will be available to people.
He agreed with this, we will raise his prices slowly over time. We both believe Mawulidi could make this his work one day, he is especially gifted.
The chicken has some magic to it, I think, I would love to have it, but his work is in so much demand I will get in line with everybody else. It seems wrong to me to snatch it up front. Next week, more carvings, an African Protection Mask and some other birds or creatures. I'm not sure.
Mawulidi is coming out here this coming Wednesday for more wood, all of his carvings come from wood cut at Bedlam Farm and Pompanuck Farm, just down the road.
If you wish to put your name on the waiting list for Mawulidi's work, you can e-mail Maria at [email protected]. He is quite prolific.