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  • REAL

Celebrating our Sponsors

We were delighted to welcome the wonderful REAL sponsors to our first in-person event in over two years! Our generous sponsors who each support a girl, several more than one girl or a mentor, are the heart of REAL.

Board Chair Olga Rodrigues welcomed the group and offered an overview of our growth and long-term plans for the coming years. Executive Director Tsehai Wodajo reassured us that the girls were doing well in spite of the challenges of the pandemic and the conflicts that still affect daily life in much of Ethiopia. She fervently hopes that the current peace negotiations around the Tigrayan conflict hold, but also let us know that significant unrest continues in the Oromia region which directly affects many of our girls. REAL has been a stable, positive factor in the girls' lives during these difficult times.

Seble Haptamu, REAL in-country coordinator, joined us through Zoom with additional news of the girls and expressed her gratitude to the sponsors for their support and, most importantly, for their belief in the importance of educating women. Seble was a REAL girl herself and directly experienced the transformative effect of receiving an education and being able to support herself.

The gathering was also an opportunity to recognize and thank 8 sponsors who signed up to support a girl in 2004 when REAL was a new idea waiting to be realized. Now 18 years after our founding, these dedicated supporters have each sponsored several girls and transformed their lives and the lives of their families of origin and their families to be. We are so grateful for the leadership and dedication of these wonderful people:

Nancy Carroll

Pat and Pat Day

Janelle Hill

Christine Hurney and Tim Fisher

Debbie and Neil Okerlund

Joyce Prudden and Michael Shoop

Connie and Gary Roller

Pam and Jeff Schweitzer

Tsehai also thanked and honored co-founder Ann Jensen for her vision and support in the development of REAL. Look what these two women accomplished and are continuing to grow!

A highlight of the occasion was the wonderful Ethiopian dishes prepared by Tsehai—Marro Chicken Veggie, Marro Lentils, Marro Ancoot- followed by the traditional coffee ceremony prepared and served by Kelem Wolderufael.

It was a moving and celebratory event—and a reminder that it does indeed take a village—no matter how distant that village—to raise, educate, and celebrate a child.

View the slideshow below to see more photos

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