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News from Executive Director, Tsehai Wodajo

Happy International Women's Day … and Month!

REAL Board Secretary Bontu Galata and I returned from Ethiopia in late January, my first trip since the start of the pandemic! We met with all the mentors and representative girls from each of our 9 sites, in person, in Addis Ababa. Traveling for the mentors and girls from our 5 sites in western Ethiopia was particularly challenging. We were so relieved that they all made it safely and inspired by their many stories of the girls' successes during the incredible political and health challenges of the last two years. The gathering was part of my ongoing goal to connect the girls and mentors from all our sites so they know and inspire each other and realize what a powerful movement they are part of.

I am happy—and relieved—to report that they all have done well, helped in no small part by the support of REAL sponsors and the perseverance of In-Country Program Manager Seble Habtamu.

This gathering REAL graduates and girls currently in the program was a reassuring celebration of their accomplishments, expanded opportunities, and bright prospects for the future. It was particularly powerful for the girls from western Ethiopia—their first visit to a big city and first experience of themselves as part of something much larger than their group of 20 girls at their home site. It was exhilarating for all of us!

REAL girls and mentors at the January 2023 gathering in Addis Ababa. Executive Director Tsehai Wodajo in the center, Tsehai's husband Lyle Wright, seated on her left, and REAL Board Treasurer Bontu Galata is the second woman on Tsehai's right.

REAL graduate panel presentation, with (l to r) Dr. Tsehaye from our Hosanna site, and Construction Engineers Elbetel and Hana, both from our Entoto site.


REAL Becomes an International NGO

REAL's long-time goal has been to identify and register as an international NGO in Ethiopia and we are, at last, well on the way to accomplishing that goal and we still have a ways to go. REAL has been successful because of the generosity of local churches and schools at our sites to provide us with office and gathering space for the girls. Becoming an international NGO makes it easier for us to establish an office in Addis Ababa, to expand our programs in-country including opening new sites, and makes us more attractive for partnership with other international organizations and funders, such as USAID, to expand our reach. We have filed all the necessary documents and expect final approval by the end of this year and are ready to celebrate our 20-year anniversary in 2024.

Tsehai at the Civil Society Organization (CSO) in Addis Ababa receiving REAL's official International NGO certificate from Teferi Galatu Gofe, Documents Approval Director.


Please join us on March 26 from 1 to 3 pm at Our Redeemer Oromo Evangelical Church, 4000 28th Ave South, Minneapolis MN 55406 to celebrate International Women's Day and the many successes of REAL girls and young women!

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