WEST DES MOINES, Iowa - An idea that started out as a small auction in a West Des Moines woman's basement to raise money for a women's resource center in Ghana is now something much larger.
"I got connected with Ghana through a 14-year-old boy that was there, that was going to come over - that we were trying to get to come over to the United States to play basketball and go to high school," said Brenda Reiman-Miller, who lives in West Des Moines and is one of several people organizing a fundraiser for the women's center.
But for Reiman-Miller and her family, getting that boy to the U.S. never worked out. Along with a friend, Ruth Meyer, and Jordan Saddoris, a senior and basketball player at Central College, she's organized a group to raise $50,000 for a women's resource center in the village of Asikuma in Ghana. Reiman-Miller says the center will do a multitude of things for the women in Ghana - but perhaps most importantly, it will empower them.
"If you help a man, you help an individual. But if you help a woman, you help an entire community," she said, quoting the chief of the village of Asikuma. "If you can empower the women there, you can empower an entire community."
The center will serve as a safe-haven for women in abusive situations, but also teach them trades so they can work and support their families; sewing, beading, and cooking will be taught, among other skills. In addition, Ghanian bags made by the women there are being sent to Reiman-Miller and her group here in the Metro to sell. 100 percent of the funds go back to the village to help the women there; when this future women's center is constructed, they hope to make the bags there and use them to help fund the center's programming.
"They have real simple lives, and a lot of them are single moms," Reiman-Miller said. "And there's not a lot of opportunities for them to learn a skill and make their own money - they're kind of just out their on their own, without anybody to empower them, and educate them, and to embrace them as females."
The idea to host a silent and live auction to benefit the women's center began as one that would be hosted in Ruth Meyer's basement; as support grew, the group now plans to host both auctions together on Sunday, September 25 at Sacred Heart Parish Center in West Des Moines. The event, called Night of Nyame Do, reflects the name of the future women's center: Nyame Do, meaning "God's Love," in the local language. You can purchase tickets for the event here.