Do you find yourself wishing for a little extra luck this time of year, glancing at the horizon for a glimpse of a rainbow? Perhaps you even imagine you caught sight of a leprechaun out of the corner of your eye? Ah, the lure of St. Patrick!

If you, like OBP member Titi de Baccarat, come from Gabon, Africa, you likely don’t know the folklore of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or that horseshoes are lucky charms. We caught up with Titi recently and asked him  to share with us a little bit about his incredible story and we’re passing it along to you. It involves a tremendous amount of good fortune and luck!

When asked how he arrived in the US, he chuckled and said by plane, of course! But his journey was not quite that simple and has been an extraordinary experience inspired by his passion for art. Due to political problems and the state of his home country, Titi immigrated to America to avoid the turmoil and unrest of his home country and to seek opportunities abroad. He misses his son and family tremendously, but never again wants to witness the injustices and human rights violations he’s seen in his life. Fortunately for Titi, amidst this turmoil he was able to discover what was truly important to him, art. Titi considers this the luckiest part of his life because in Africa, fathers can decide their children’s future for all of their lives. But, in spite of his parents alternative plans for him, he was able to find and follow his own passion. This has allowed him to grow and discover, meet new people and learn new things, which make his world a better place.

Once he arrived in the US, Titi settled into the Portland, Maine, area, ready to start his new life. However, while waiting for his work permit to come through, he became very sad and frustrated with not being able to be busy. In his words, he was “going crazy just waiting and wanted desperately to make art and to just do something.” A very good of friend recognized this one day and said, “come with me, I have a surprise for you” she then introducing Titi to The Open Bench Project. He was so happy. Finally, he says, he had found somewhere to channel his ambition, his passions, and his ideas for connecting technology with art and blending his art with manufacturing.

He’s currently focusing on his jewelry pieces and paintings. In Africa, you create art with your hands, but here in America, there are many ways to create. That is what he loves about OBP – there are different sections where you can learn, using computers, 3D printing, welding, woodworking machines, and his own fine art practices. It’s a combination that has taught him things he never knew about in Africa and allows him to integrate his unique talents into American art styles. When asked about who inspires him and his work, he shares that his hero is Thomas Sankara, who according to Wikipedia was “a charismatic and iconic figure of revolution.” * According to Titi, “he fought for the destiny and rebirth of unity for the country using the best of ways.”

We asked Titi what place he would visit if he could go anywhere in the world for just one day and without hesitation he responded, “I think I’m in a good place in America.” When pushed just a little, he admitted he would like to visit New York City to see the Statue of Liberty and Times Square. Just for fun, we also asked Titi if he had the power to rename the Open Bench Project, what would he pick. He thought for a moment and with his contagious smile and laugh, he said, “Open Bench Project 2!

It sounds like Titi has found the end of the rainbow for now and we are so happy he landed here with us. May you share the same good fortune as our friend, whether ye be Irish or naught!

And then some,

Your Friends @ OBP

*Learn more about former President of Burkina Faso, Thomas Sankara, and his revolutionary programs for African self-reliance here.