Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 30, 2012

Store seeks to help Malawian wood carver


TRAVERSE CITY — The Dennos Museum Store at Northwestern Michigan College is trying to help one of its featured craftsmen.

For 10 years, the store has sold the wood carvings of Hamilton Banda from Malawi, a small country in southern Africa. The works come to the shop via Dr. Terrie Taylor, a Michigan State University professor who lives in Traverse City and studies malaria in Malawi. Taylor has become good friends with Banda and brings his work back to Traverse City to be sold in the museum store.

According to Museum Store Manager Terry Tarnow, average income in Malawi is $1 a day. Through the sale of Banda's work, the store has been able to send him up to $2,000 in a good year.

Lately, Malawi hasn't had much rain and many are going hungry. While a new drought-resistant corn is available, planting tools and fertilizer are needed.

Meanwhile, Banda has devoted himself to seeing that his siblings got an education. He also established an apprenticeship program in his woodworking shop to expand his production capacity and pass on his skills.

Most recently, he has begun his own philanthropic endeavor by teaching disabled individuals skills that will enable them to support themselves. He started by housing them in his compound and teaching them to make small whisk brooms to sell so they wouldn't have to beg. He then joined with others to build a residential facility so that they have a warm, dry place to live while they learn new skills, according to a museum press release.

Banda has turned to the museum store for help. With a selection of his work for sale, priced from $8-$300, the museum is inviting the public to consider purchasing a piece. Proceeds will be sent to Banda to support his philanthropic work.

The Dennos Museum Center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and until 8 p.m. on Thursdays, with Sunday hours from 1 to 5 p.m. For more information, call 995-1055.