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Ellen Adu Baah gives instruction on feminine hygiene to girls in Ghana.

Featured Article

A Not-so-Private Matter

When local love extends globally, villages in South Africa become self-sustaining, and life-long impact is inevitable.

From Durban, South Africa to Monrovia, Liberia to the villages of Ghana, Reverend Dr. Adrienne Booth Johnson has created incredibly successful entrepreneurial programs to help improve the lives of women. She knows and understands all too well what it is like to be a teenage mother; to have dreams delayed, but not deferred. Adrienne knew that God put greatness inside her and that she had a calling on her life. As a little girl sitting on the back porch of her home in Louisville, Kentucky, she would watch the airplanes fly overhead and say, "I want to get on those airplanes and go to Africa."  Not really knowing what she was talking about as a child or where Africa was for that matter, in 2001, Adrienne took her first trip to South Africa.

The needs of women are different in every country and, according to Johnson, "To empower women, you first have to determine what the need is." Adrienne would sit in the villages and townships to meet with women and leaders to learn what was needed to improve the lives of the women there. In 2002, she developed a program for Zulu women artisans so they could learn how to market and sell their products. In that same year, Adrienne served as a liaison for local churches in Jonesboro and Atlanta that wanted to provide funding for churches in Durban, South Africa to build multi-purpose programs such as garden programs and libraries.

In 2013, Johnson joined a group from Clark Atlanta University on a trip to Monrovia, Liberia. As a retired Coca-Cola executive, she reached out to the President of Coca-Cola Bottling in Monrovia, Seth Adu Baah, and requested a market tour. It was this encounter that lead to the development of the Johnson Women's Empowerment Program. Eligibility for the program was simple. Adrienne asked local church leaders for the names of women who were looking for a second chance. The women were provided with an umbrella to shield them from the sun, a cooler to keep beverages cold, and Coca-Cola products to sell. Adrienne and her husband, Attorney Joe Johnson, sponsored 50 women to start the program. The number quickly grew to 100, then escalated to 3,500 when the program was adopted by the beverage giant. Seth Adu Baah, a Ghanaian, was so impressed by what Adrienne did for the women in Monrovia, he asked her to visit Ghana to meet his wife Ellen. There, Johnson would learn all about a day in the life of a girl in Ghana.

Can you imagine being so poor that sanitary products are considered a luxury? Or, worse yet, as a young girl, being made to feel so ashamed of soiling your dress during your monthly cycle that you take your own life? This is how many families live in the poorer villages in Ghana.  Adrienne and Joe, both ministers from Detroit, have dedicated their lives to being catalysts for generational change. Wo Ye Bra translates to "menstrual cycle" in Twi - a Ghanaian dialect. Many girls in the village miss anywhere from five to seven days of school a month. The Wo Ye Bra program addresses absenteeism while empowering women towards entrepreneurship. The program, which started in 2017, keeps girls in school by teaching the village women how to sew reusable sanitary pads. A $400 investment provides program participants with a free sewing machine, fabric, supplies, patterns and micro-funding, as well as marketing, sales training and finance education - everything they need to run and sustain their own business.

Before the inception of the Wo Ye Bra program, girls experiencing their monthly cycle would often resort to using old newspapers, old rags, or plantain leaves. Missing numerous days of school each month, girls would often get frustrated or discouraged and drop out of school. To date, the Wo Ye Bra program has trained 230 women to make reusable sanitary pads, which have a negligible impact on the environment as compared to disposables. For Ghanaian women - specifically graduates of the program - becoming a seamstress creates opportunities that extend well beyond feminine products.

Adrienne visits Ghana once or twice a year to reinforce the basic fundamentals of business, ensuring that progress is made and the businesses remain sustainable. Philanthropist, humanitarian and global entrepreneur, Adrienne wants to change the world one village at a time. Joe Johnson is her biggest fan and boasts, "Adrienne has an incredible ability to connect people and resources to make this stuff happen. That's the genius of the program. Adrienne has a way of connecting with women to understand their needs and how best they can be successful."

"I believe in entrepreneurship. I think you control your own destiny when you own your own business." To learn more about this impactful program or to become a supporter, visit

  • Ghanaian woman learns how to sew in the Wo Ye Bra program.
  • Joe and Adrienne Johnson with Ellen Adu Baah. The Johnson's donate sanitary pads to young girls.
  • Ellen Adu Baah gives instruction on feminine hygiene to girls in Ghana.
  • High school girls are happy to receive sanitary pads so they can stay in school.
  • First 20 participants inducted into Wo Ye Bra program in 2017.
  • Adrienne Johnson with high school girls in the Prampram village in Ghana, West Africa.
  • Adrienne Johnson with elementary school girls in the Prampram village.
  • Wo Ye Bra trainee smiling because she just unveiled her brand new sewing machine.
  • Graduation Day for Wo Ye Bra program participants.