Friday, March 02, 2007


Across from the deli stands Colbar Art. Inside they make Statues of Liberty. But for Olvidiu, its owner, the statues mean more than his livelihood.

Olvidiu comes from Romania, and he grew up during the brutal regime of the Ceausecus. When he was a young man, he tried to escape by swimming across the Danube. But the guards at the border caught him, and Olvidiu spent five long years in prison for his offense. When he got out he was wiser but no less determined. He applied for a visa to the United States and for four years he waited. Finally the Romanian government granted him permission to leave. Olvidiu left for New York City.

But for the people he left behind, things grew worse. His brother Alexi was an engineer, with a good job and his own house. After Olvidiu's escape, the government took away Alexi's job. Suddenly in a country desperate for engineers, there was no opening for Alexi. He found work cleaning buildings. Then the government took away his house. Alexi packed up his belongings and moved to an apartment in the center of the city. He went on.

In the meantime, Olvidiu started again in his new country. He worked in menial jobs in factories, assembling, welding, filing. He brought enthusiasm, energy and inventiveness, and soon he moved up, into positions of more responsibility.

Every cent he made, he saved. And when the time was right, he opened his own factory, making miniature Statues of Liberty. This was his dream. With the help of refugee organizations, he staffed his business with others who had sought asylum as he had, with refugees from Haiti, Albania, Philippines, China, Colombia and Guatemala.

On the other side of the Atlantic, unrest was sweeping through Poland, the USSR, East Germany and Romania. Overnight the people of Romania overthrew their dictators, then executed them. Alexi waited until the new government was in place, and then he, too, applied for a visa to the United States.

And now he, too, works at Colbar.


Blogger Dos said...

Love it! Great little story.

Thanks for the comment on Dos Epocas.
BTW, I hear you know Kelly Price - small world.



12:52 PM  
Anonymous Ken said...

Wow! GREAT photograph! Wonderful story!
The lurker who is no longer lurking :-)

12:40 PM  

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