The REAL strength is working within existing systems

We support the education of girls in grades 6 through 12 within existing schools by engaging the help and support of the local community.


Our partners are community members who know the girls and their individual challenges, know their local schools, and understand the requirements of the national educational system.

REAL girls become leaders in their communities, because they are deeply connected and grounded in what is needed and effective in Ethiopia.

Educated girls are the Resource that Enriches African Lives.

Our Mission

REAL supports the education of disadvantaged Ethiopian girls through mentorship and collaboration with their local communities.


Our Vision

REAL and its partners transform African communities by empowering girls and young women to complete their education and fulfill their true potential, uplifting their families, communities and countries.

Our Beginning

Tsehai Wodajo's life was changed by a young Swedish woman, Eva Nordin, who showed up in Tsehai's village in Ethiopia more than 40 years ago. Eva saw Tsehai's potential and made it possible for her to stay in high school and even to go on to university.


Tsehai never forgot Eva who made such a difference in her life and was inspired to find a way to provide that opportunity for other girls and young women. She and her friends Hanna Getachen-Kreusser and Ann Jensen had the idea for Resources Enriching African Lives — REAL. In 2004 Tsehai and Ann traveled to Ethiopia to establish the first REAL site in Nedjo, with a local supervising committee and a mentor for 15 girls.


REAL has come full circle. Eva Nordin now sponsors a REAL girl at our Entoto site.

Tsehai Wodajo and Eva Nordin

Meet The Board

Tsehai Wodajo

Founder and Executive Director

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Tsehai has firsthand experience in and stands for the difference education and empowerment make for girls and women. Having a wide range of work experiences she brings a wealth of wisdom and knowledge in strength based business solutions. A founder and executive director of REAL, she is a recipient of a number of leadership grants and awards for her work in social justice and equality for women. Her education background includes BA in English Literature, and Masters in Social Work. 

Olga Tolle-Rodrigues

Board President and Chair

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Olga brings a wealth of experience in developing international partnerships and growing organizations. She knows firsthand the power of education as her parents, especially her dad who was illiterate and from a poor background, allowed her to attend school and pursue higher education. Education matters, and should be available to everyone regardless of their background or situation.

Kathy Coskran

Board Vice-President

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Kathleen's experience as a Peace Corps in Ethiopia inspired her life-long commitment to Ethiopia and to education. Upon returning to the United States, she trained to be a Montessori teacher. She eventually served as Head of Lake Country School, a Montessori school in Minneapolis for children ages 3 to 14. She is now retired.

Lidya Makonnen

Board Member

Lidya immigrated to the United States from Ethiopia at the age of four. After learning about her family's experiences and struggles, she was inspired to pursue a career in politics. Lidya is excited to use her experience and knowledge to support and empower girls through the work of REAL.

Randy Hoversten

Board Treasurer

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Randy has built his career using his financial expertise and experience in bringing organizations (both non-profit and for-profit) to higher levels of productivity, growth, and effectiveness. Having served in a variety of financial capacities and roles, Randy is committed to helping expand the footprint of REAL so that its model can benefit deserving girls around the world.

Ann Jensen

Founder and Board Secretary

When Ann taught mathematics as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia, only 10% of her 9th and 10th grade students were girls. Her brightest student, a girl, was forced by her very poor parents to quit school and get married. REAL is the realization of Ann's desire to do something to change the trajectory of such girls' lives. After a career in social work, Ann is now retired.

Heather Laubach

Board Member

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As a Senior Art Director, Heather brings a wealth of marketing and design experience to the organization. She was introduced to Ethiopia as young teen when her father sponsored many Ethiopian families. She believes everyone deserves a chance to thrive and reach their full potential.

We Need Your Support Today!

REAL Africa

Resources Enriching
African Lives

Email: getreal@real-africa.org



2233 University Ave, W, #338

St. Paul, MN 55114

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