About seven years ago I met Sia Yambire at the gym and we became cycling buddies. He's from Bolgatanga Ghana, and his Guruni Tribe makes world-famous colorful, intricate baskets. Known as Bolga Baskets, I’m sure you’ve seen them. Sia imports these baskets to make a humble living (see www.bolga-ayia.org).
Sia has a 6-year-old daughter, "Ayinema", a tribal word that means God's Will. Sia's wife Linda died giving birth to her. When she was a newborn, he took her to the US Embassy in Ghana and got her American citizenship. But until age four, she was being raised by family and friends in Ghana and Burkina Faso. When we visited Sia's tribal homeland three years ago, we saw Ayinema there and hoped for more for her.
Sia is widely known and loved throughout his village for his generosity and philanthropy. They call him "America Man”. He does great things there. With the help of a few Santa Rosa churches and Sonoma County friends that were moved by Sia's heart for his people, Sia finished building a church that he and Linda had started in Burkina Faso, and with Sia’s leadership, a well that pumps crystal-clear water for everyone around was drilled too. It was really an incredible change for all of them. Before that, all the families had to walk over a mile every day to a small spring, filling gourds with brown water.
A year-and-a-half ago, with our friends Jeremy and Jennifer Sycip and Connie and Mark Hawkins, we agreed to helping Sia raise Ayinema here. Since then we’ve all been doing just that, co-parenting Ayinema with Sia, and she’s been thriving.
Sia and Ayinema had a small apartment on Hopper Avenue in Santa Rosa. While they slept, Ayinema smelled smoke and she woke Sia. The devastating fire that hit our community was upon them, and it was bedlam. As the front of his friend’s car was literally melting from the heat, they loaded into it and got out. They weren’t able to grab anything, and all was lost, including Sia’s old van.
Sia and Ayinema are living at our house and they’re safe. We’re hoping to raise enough money for Sia to get a new (used) van to transport his baskets, as well as a couple of new canopies for farmer’s markets, and to buy some other basics too. $5,000 total would be great, but since they lost everything, anything will help.
Sia has been through so much in his life, it would already make a great book. He’s remaining strong--and believe it or not—happy and grateful. He seems more worried about others’ losses than his own.
Please consider joining us to help Sia and Ayinema get back on their feet. Thanks.
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- Molly Koehler
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