Updated: Mar 23, 2022
The REAL Spring Fundraiser, "Celebrating the Power and Resilience of Ethiopian Women" provided a memorable morning Saturday, March 19, 2022. The gathering spanned continents, language, and experience to acknowledge and celebrate the real difference REAL provides for girls and young women, a transformative effect that radiates through their families, their communities, their country, and the world. In celebration of International Women's Day, the event featured 5 outstanding women, 2 REAL girls who spoke and many other girls who tuned in. We raised $7,320 of our $10,000 goal and additional donations are still hoped for and are coming in.
The event was MC'd by Dr. Verna Cornelia Price who has founded multiple organizations
supporting girls and women, including Girls in Action (renamed Girls Taking Action), Boys of
Hope, and an Undergraduate Leadership Academic Minor at the University of Minnesota, The Power of People Leadership Institute. Jackie Bouvier Copeland, founder of The Wise Fund (Women Invested to Save the Earth) moderated the dialogue between Dr. Ellen Kennedy, Founder and Executive Director of World Without Genocide, Esther Watts former Country Director for CARE Ethiopia and currently working as CARE USA Gender Equity Gender Strategy Consultant, Tsehai Wodajo, REAL Founder and Executive Director, with a surprise visit by Abigeya Getachew, Federal Courts Reform Program Director, Office of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ethiopia.
Here is a sample of what these amazing women had to say about the importance of supporting the education of girls and women and their appreciation of REAL's longtime commitment and success in helping girls complete their education.
"When women win and have their full human rights, the entire world benefits. The solutions are in our hands." – Dr. Jackie Bouvier Copeland
"The [Ethiopian] judiciary is committed to working on gender equality and now there are women who are qualified to fill these positions." – Abigeya Getachew
"The best thing we can do to help to promote peace in the world is to keep girls in school … We speak a lot about scholarships and funding, but the message that REAL brings forward is that we must model and encourage the value of girls'; education, not only at the beginning of the process for the girl, but throughout that girl's and woman's life …This is what will transform families, communities, and nations." – Dr. Ellen Kennedy
"It's a basic human right for all to have access to education … In Ethiopia, we see higher rates of girls'; attendance in primary school, but … a huge drop-off as girls come into senior school; a key barrier is access to hygiene, particularly menstrual hygiene management. Also issues around attendance … girls have to do the washing up in the morning, clear up breakfast… the boys go off to school, but the girls turn up late … and if you turn up late, you're told to turn around and go home. It is absolutely essential to be working with parents, … with religious leaders, community leaders … and to address the social norms that are creating barriers for the girls accessing education." – Esther Watts
"I acknowledge the wonderful women who inspire me including the Ethiopian girls who are here (virtually) today. We get our girls from the 6th grade through completing high school. They are supported for 7 years by their mentor and in their group of 15 to 20 girls, their sisterhood. The girls also learn to save money so they can support themselves beyond REAL in university. Our work with the girls truly is enriching lives. Over the past 18 years, we impacted over 476 girls, their extended family, and communities." – Tsehai Wodajo
"REAL supported me for 7 years; our mentor was such an amazing woman who taught us a lot … now I have graduated from university as a doctor. Honestly speaking, I couldn't achieve this goal without your support. God bless you." – Dr. Tsehaye Girma, REAL graduate who is now a medical doctor
"REAL was a great chance for me … My sponsor encouraged me to see the big in me and what I can do, not only for me but for the other. And in the middle, Ms. Tsehai was there … I was thinking one day I will be someone who gives back for REAL … I am full of energy to give back. When we support one girl, we are supporting the whole family, also her surroundings … REAL is doing a great thing … because we need a safe world for women; to create the safe world that we imagine, we must teach, we must empower, we must mentor the girls so they become the ones who empower, mentor, educate, who support the others because they know how they came to that level." – Seble Habtamu, REAL graduate who is now the REAL In-Country Manager
"A part of giving is understanding the story. REAL provides the experience, the structure, and the know-how. And it is only $6000 to start a new site with 20 girls! Please give!" – Dr. Verna Cornelia Price